Delivering real value from PR in 2015

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This year, as for every year, clients will be looking for great ideas that help them stand out from the crowd. However, 2015 will also see a fundamental shift in the accountability of those ideas and what value “standing out” is really having on the bottom line.

As the PRCA’s ‘15 for 15’ highlighted (, PR activity must – quite rightly – be about creating ‘outcomes not outputs’. With PR’s growing importance alongside other marketing disciplines, there needs to be a direct link between actions taken and client business results.

At Forster, we’re focused on inspiring and igniting social change and we challenge ourselves to answer two key questions at the end of each project; what value have we delivered for clients, and how have we helped to protect and improve lives? In order to unlock the answers, we have developed an evaluation framework that enables us to track the target audience’s progress through their individual journey of change; from being unaware to aware, to taking an interest and engaging in the proposition, to taking and then repeating the desired action.

Each stage has different metrics for effective measurement and while more traditional PR trackers such as ‘opportunities to see’ are useful to measure audience reach (did our messages get to the audience?), they are just the starting point. What we really want to know is ‘what did the audience do as a result of seeing the messages?’ and in today’s integrated multimedia environment, with instant engagement and monitoring opportunities across digital, mobile and social media platforms, it has become much easier to find out.

What is critical is that whatever the metric, it must be put into context. There needs to be a dramatic change in how raw data is reported to clients, and how it is interpreted and used to optimise on-going communication. Bland achievement statements such as “increased Twitter followers by 500” and “got 20,000 Facebook Likes” are simply not enough. Who is following whom? Are they the right people to be exposed to this message? Have they contributed to a related conversation, or taken a recent action as a result of being exposed to a similar message? Although mass and scale are statistically important to measure, high social media community numbers do not necessarily equal better campaign outcomes or best use of budgets.

Whether it’s building a brand, driving participation or increasing sales, the role of PR does not end with the generation of media coverage. In 2015’s world of complex and multi channel communications, relevant measurement and evaluation at each stage of the audience journey is key to ensuring real client value is created.