Richard Cook

As you may be aware, PR Measurement is a big problem that has given rise to a big industry. Conferences, webinars, consultants, software platforms and industry experts are all available, at a price, to anyone who wants a dashboard to show how well they are doing.

Don’t get me wrong, measurement is important, but there are two conflicting quotes that spring to mind: “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t matter.” And “Not everything that can be measured, matters, and not everything that matters can be measured.” So where does this leave those of us in B2B PR and communications who want to know what is working and what is not, so we can do more of the good stuff which is helping our businesses or client’s businesses to achieve their objectives?

It all depends on the objectives. Measurement needs to be aligned with what the business wants to achieve. For the majority of B2B technology PR campaigns that I have ever worked on, and for 100% of the technology brand clients that Champion works on, our objective is always to help increase sales. “We Champion. You Grow.” is our strapline, and if that doesn’t appeal to a prospective client then we are not the right public relations consultancy for them and there are other PR companies or B2B agencies that they should work with.

Growth in the B2B tech space is fundamentally about sales. At Champion, we see ourselves as an extension of our clients’ business development teams. It is from them that we get the best ideas, and with them that we develop our strongest PR strategies and campaigns. Champion never takes a brief without talking with and understanding the challenges that the business development team is up against. Which is why we measure our impact in terms of our contribution to the business development process.

Today’s B2B buyer is faced with unexpected challenges that they didn’t ever get trained for. At the moment, the majority of them are stuck in isolation, with reduced access to experts from within their own companies, which is why, I believe, there has been such a dramatic increase in the consumption of B2B Editorial, particularly via digital sites. Decision makers want advice, insight and validation from trusted sources.

Our approach to measurement starts with being aware of and understanding the needs of the business development team. Are they looking to start conversations, progress and nurture relationships, refresh relationships, or give evidence that supports a purchase decision? The right earned media strategy can support all of these objectives.

It’s not enough to simply get something published and hope that it lands in front of the right prospect. A salesperson needs to be championing and proactively sharing earned editorial with prospects. Email, LinkedIn, or a telephone conversation can all work. But the editorial should be seen as an asset that supports business development.

We then seek to understand the impact it has had. Again, a relatively simple process. We speak to the sales teams, normally once per month, to ensure that they have seen the coverage, and to understand how they have shared it and the impact it has had.

Collecting this data provides metrics that the board appreciates, understands and looks forward to. Being able to say that 65% of the editorial coverage has contributed positively to a business development pipeline, according to sales, is a very powerful thing for any Chief Marketing Officer to be able to report.

Public Relations is unlikely to be able to claim that it has single-handedly made a sale. That rarely happens and is a false metric as attribution is so hard to define. Asking sales how they have used earned media, on the other hand is a straightforward and authentic way to evaluate what is having a positive impact.

Because we do this across all of our clients, and have for some time, we can also look at best practice and benchmark B2B PR Campaigns against each other. Therefore, we can see what best practice really looks like, and modify accordingly.

So, it’s cheap, quick and simple. And it gets to the heart of the objective of the B2B PR Agency investment and business goals. The process also strengthens the relationship between sales and marketing, because, after all, we are all in business development really anyway, aren’t we?

For more insight on how we can assist you in measuring PR impact, or drive sales for your business, get in touch at: