Public Relations has been hampered by the measurability factor and for years industry experts have been engaged in evolving ways to measure the impact of PR campaigns through data. But the question is – can creativity be measured?
“In the era of modern management, we are in the business of accountability. The role of PR impacts reputations and hence it impacts bottomlines,” said Paresh Chaudhary, Founder President, IFCC.
According to Shweta Shukla, Associate Director and Head of External Relations, P&G, measuring the impact of PR had been a long drawn battle. She listed three factors in measuring the impact of PR – PR worth, which was in the short-term and based on campaign-to-campaign. The next factor was the marketing mix model, which Shukla called a medium-term factor that involved assessing RoIs of different elements in the marketing mix. The third factor was the impact of PR on the equity of brands, which was a long-term step.
Here, Shukla cited two examples from P&G’s brand portfolio – Gillette: Salute the Soldier and the Shiksha campaign. Shukla elaborated, “The ‘Gillette: Salute the Soldier’ campaign was based on the premise that most people had the highest regards for soldiers and associating Gillette brand with soldiers generated a positive image for the brand.” Continuing further, she said, “With this PR campaign, $2.4 million worth of coverage was generated. Brand equity went up by 15 per cent, while 41 million social media impressions were registered on Facebook and Twitter. It culminated in sales growing by 500 per cent.”
Elaborating on Shiksha, P&G’s signature CSR programme, which is now in its seventh year, Shukla said that in terms of PR worth, over $2 million worth of free media was generated in the last two years alone. Purchase intent went up by 21 per cent, while in terms of impact on cause, over three lakh children were receiving education as part of the Shiksha programme, she added.
Factors in measuring RoI
Veena Gidwani, CEO, Madison PR, stressed that there was need to make resources work harder. She noted that today, PR had moved to a more qualitative role. Listing the advantages of PR, she added that PR can help generate buzz and awareness, engage with consumers and change their perceptions, as well as bring about a behavioural change.”
Speaking further, she said that PR was one of the disciplines that today gave the best RoIs. According to Gidwani, “There are four Cs to measure this RoI – Connect, Context, Consumers and Cost.”
Sharif Rangnekar, Director and CEO, Integral PR, added here that while measuring RoI of PR, it was important to consider PR as part of the marketing mix and not be seen in isolation. “It is good to have a more comprehensive research done. Today, PR has gone way ahead of media relations. PR professionals provide multiple touch-points to clients to reach out to consumers, which bring in a lot more value,” he noted.
Shukla listed a few best practices that need to be embraced by the PR industry:
• Factor in quality of PR worth
• Measure impact of PR on social media
• Measure word of mouth
• Standardise measurements for the industry
• Business impact measures need to be consistent with the marketing mix
In her wish-list, Gidwani said, “We would like to see PR budgets go up. We are becoming more qualitative in our approach and PR agencies’ role has expanded vastly.”
Providing a different perspective, Dr Arvind Lal, MD, Dr Lal Pathlabs spoke about India’s healthcare sector and how the country lagged behind in it. “India is becoming the diabetes capital and there are growing cases of cancer too. Preventive checks are needed today as cost of healthcare is very high,” said Dr Lal.
He raised the issue of whether PR could create awareness amongst people on how to prevent diseases. He said that an economically viable India will be led by its healthy citizens.
Paresh Chaudhary, Sharif Rangnekar, Shweta Shukla, Veena Gidwani, Dr Arvind Lal were speaking on the topic ‘Calculating Communications RoI’ at the India PR and Corporate Communications Conference 2012.
The Conference was presented by Adfactors Public Relations. SAIL was the co-sponsor, while Yakult was the official health drink partner.