Pretty much all marketers do it. We spend money on programs that we “know in our our heart” are the right thing but are extremely difficult to track. What am I talking about? For me it has been PR. PR has always been a no brainer as a cost effective way to tell your story in long form and present your organization as a category leader. Plus from a team building standpoint, everyone likes to see the company’s name or the CEO’s smiling face in the Wall Street Journal or your hometown newspaper.
The challenge always arises during budget season when the pointy headed types ask the inevitable question:
“So, what did we get for that $120K we spent on PR last year besides some glossy reprints?”
As always it comes back to measurement. In a perfect world, one could connect the prospect who read the product review in a magazine and then bought your product. In reality it is much more complex. Different stakeholders learn about you through different media, leaving you with a series of indirect measures.
So what is the marketing metric of last resort?
When in doubt, I’ve seen people use a measure called “advertising equivalents”. This is defined as the cost to purchase an equal amount of advertising in the publication where you received PR coverage. If you get a half page editorial, then this is worth a half page of advertising. You get the idea. This is certainly better than nothing but here are the problems:
- This metric is more about activity than results
- It assumes you would actually buy media in that publication if you had a choice
- It has no reflection of the quality of the coverage
So, how do you measure those hard to measure programs?