The PR industry has come a long way since the days of intricately dissecting coverage from a magazine and laboriously sticking these into a cuttings book. While the impact of this as it slams down upon a client’s desk is undoubtedly impressive, just what is the impact of this PR in communicating a message that remains with its audience long after they’ve finished reading an article? How effective is this in stimulating action? And finally, how can we measure this in a meaningful way? These are all considerations that were discussed at a recent conference – entitled PR Analytics – organised by online magazine PRmoment.com.

One spokesperson at the event stated: “It is important to think about re-calibrating our approach so we’re not just delivering vanity metrics.” Indeed, ‘metrics’ is a useful term when considering how the industry will progress in evaluating a PR campaign’s merits by using accurate statistical data to do so. Making use of tools such as Google Analytics will enable precise media monitoring to discover whether, for example, a company website has enjoyed increased visits following press activity. Other considerations include the journey that a visitor takes around a website, and whether this correlates with the expected route, and the success in securing key messages with publications. Indeed, which messages are generating media coverage? What type of conversations is this generating? Where is website traffic coming from?

PR practitioners must recognise that evaluation methods are developing. As Jim Desler, director of worldwide PR for Microsoft, added: “The question is, ‘how are we going to measure ourselves in a way that’s meaningful for what we do?’ We need to talk in numbers, the same language as our business stakeholders. The science of metrics and analytics will greatly aid PR. This richness of data is where we will derive value from our actions.”

What are your thoughts on measuring the impact of public relations? Join in the discussion with us on Twitter at @WyattIntl.