Just like any good recipe, evaluation of the end product is the key to success.
With a surname like ‘Baker’ it’s not surprising that I spent a lot of my childhood sampling the delights of my Mum’s cooking, cheekily recommending she added “more chocolate” and “less fruit” to many of her baked goods. A rather amusing analogy, but one that identifies how the use of evaluation, analysis and tailoring something to a specific need – in this case my sweet tooth – is the only way to achieve the best results and ensure you have achieved what you set out to do. It’s much the same with PR.
As the recession continues to rumble on, many businesses, quite rightly, question the value and return on investment for any external costs. So, it is important, more than ever, to make sure that we are delivering exceptional PR programmes for our clients that not only meet, but also exceed their expectations. Evaluation techniques are crucial to ensuring that we produce outstanding results.
There is no such thing as a ‘one size fits all ‘approach when it comes to PR metrics and evaluation. There are a broad range of key performance indicators (KPIs) that we use; from advertising value equivalent (AVE), return on investment (ROI) and PR value to the inclusion of key messages and the number of pieces of coverage. Each client is different and we tailor our approach accordingly.
Weekly and monthly evaluation is commonplace at Westgate and this ensures we always meet our agreed PR objectives, whilst also securing the opportunities we have promised. As 2012 draws to close, a more in-depth evaluation of our PR programmes is currently underway for the majority of our clients and this helps us to identify the highlights of the year and the effectiveness of our campaigns in terms of our clients’ commercial objectives.
Evaluation is a full circle process, which ensures a continued level of excellence for our clients, consistent with their own business development plans and strategies. Successful evaluation, however, hinges on the right foundations being implemented in the first place. This is achieved through the careful identification of PR objectives and key performance indicators which are right for each client’s business.
So as 2012 draws to a close, we are busy preparing reports, analysing coverage and creating PowerPoint presentations, bursting with coverage achieved through the year. The final stage of evaluation involves planning and making strategic recommendations for the next year based on our learnings and observations. Needless to say I’ll be doing my planning with a large piece of cake!