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When I starting this blog one of my first posts was on measurement and evaluation. At the time I had little experience, other than using Vocus whilst on placement. Since then my thoughts on this hot topic have changed slightly.

I don’t think it is as simple as selecting a service and allowing them to send you daily press clippings and data about how often your brand is mentioned across social media. Measurement and evaluation should not be exclusive to daily monitoring of a brand or organisation. What about specific campaign measurement? Do most organisations group everything together and simply present the results by monthly or yearly reports. A PR campaign takes effort, planning and a dedicated team to see it through – evaluation should not be dropped at the last hurdle. PRs need to know that all their hard work has paid off.

This post aims to provide a selection of services that can help in evaluating a public relations campaign and work out which tools work best for the purpose. Afterall while I may talk about several options, they may not be particularly effective or relevent to you or your campaign.

Tracking the website
A dedicated website or page is a common part of a PR campaign, and knowing who is visiting it and how often is a key way of evaluating whether the efforts you put in are reaping the rewards.
Google Analytics is a favourable choice for monitoring your website and pages. Google’s service provides an in-depth view of just about every measurement form I can think of. From traffic sources and unique visits to the way users navigate through the site.
Alexa is a free service I recently stumbled upon. Alexa allows the user to search using keywords, URLs and categories to obtain a breakdown of web metrics. This service will give a breakdown of the search terms, traffic, audience overview and click stream data.
websitetrafficspy.com turned out to be a great free tool that actually takes the data from a lot of the tracking and analysis sites like Alexa, Compete and Google Trends. It gathers all the basic data in one place and provides a summary of what it is presenting you with. This is ideal if you’re in a hurry and just want a generic overview of how well your campaign is driving traffic to your site.

Trends and search data
Tracking website hits and unique visitors isn’t enough to analyse the overall effectiveness of a campaign. Using services that can provide information on search terms and frequency of the searches can add value to the evaluation process.
Google Insights for Search, for example, allows comparisons of search patterns. You can even make your data more specific by narrowing it down by regions, time frames and categories making your results much more relevant to your campaign.
Another service from Google – Google Trends provides comparisons and data on the world’s interest on your specified topics. This free service provides data on how frequently your trends have appeared in Google news stories and which geographical regions have carried out the most searches.
It would not be enough, however, to only use these services in campaign evaluation. It is important to develop an overall view of the different areas where a campaign can provide results.

Social media measurement
It can be all to easy to measure and monitor all the printed news coverage, and log the minutes clocked up in radio air time. But what about all those conversations taking place on social networking sites? Monitoring conversations is just as important… you need to know who is saying what and whether it is positive or negative.

As a basic start it is possible to locate places where your brand or topic is being talked about. As an example Google Blog Search will provide a list of where your search terms feature across blogs. You can also use a similar approach with other social networking sites. This will generally provide a real-time view so it wouldn’t be worth doing this if you want to choose a time frame.
Social Mention is a free real-time social media search and analysis tool. Simply enter your search term and either filter which channels you want to look at or go for the whole lot. Social mention will then provide a dashboard of information including a general listing of where your search term in mentioned, sentiment ratio, reach or influence percentage and details of keywords, top users and the ability to choose a date range.
How Sociable provides a series of metrics based on entering your band name, although I have tried this with a search term and it also provides some helpful data. How sociable provides magnitude numbers for a variety of social media channels and when clicked on, it will break it down into history and high impact mentions. This is a free service as well and will provide some basic information, however, I would probably recommend using this with other social media monitoring tools.
Tweet Reach is obviously for Twitter analysis only, but works really well if you have created a hashtag or want to track your Twitter handle. Tweet Reach will provide a list of the most recent tweets mentioning your search terms as well as data on tweet types, exposure and impressions and a list of the most recent contributors. This would be a good service to use on daily basis, particularly when monitoring and evaluating a particular campaign or activity.

Traditional news monitoring
Don’t get bogged down in online monitoring, remember that traditional media still exists and its value is important in the evaluating process. There are so many services available which will generally do all the hard work for you and provide daily clippings with all the data attached. These services usually come at a cost. A lot of media monitoring services will also cover online and social media, meaning all the work can be done through one programme.

However, for the case of this post I have demonstrated free services for monitoring and evaluating online coverage and conversations.
In my opinion, it will take a culmination of these tools to create a sound overview of the success of a PR campaign or activity. Just tracking social media will not be enough to tell you whether your website is working, or if stakeholders are following your call to action.

Which services are best?
In order to know which of these tools will work best for you, so you know for future evaluation and monitoring a good place to start is trying them all out. Then using a checklist or a set of questions based on what information you want to obtain will be an ideal way of whittling the list down. The key factors I would consider in choosing the right tools are;

  • Is the service easy to use and understand?
  • Will the service provide me with the right amount of information?
  • Is the information I am being presented with relevant?
  • Can I interpret the data or information so that it can be evaluated?

In using a mixture of evaluative tools it is possible to create a bespoke evaluative process that will provide all the information you need to build an analysis of the success of a campaign, brand or organisation.