When clients hire a public relations agency to develop a PR campaign, they typically measure its success by the number of times the story was picked up, in which publications it appeared, and how many times it was retweeted or shared. Of course, they also want to know that the story was free of errors and that the right message was communicated, but both clients and the public relations industry have grown accustomed to measuring the success of a PR campaign by placements and impressions alone.

Yet how many people remember the campaign after two or three days? The fact is, without timely sustained action and continued loyalty work, audience interest will quickly fade. And while many companies believe that they can handle retention on their own, the best way to truly maintain this forward momentum is through an annual contract with a PR agency.

That’s why I believe the way to measure the success of a PR campaign cannot continue to be based solely on the number of placements and publications. Although those factors undoubtedly matter, the true success of a PR campaign should also be measured by the contacts and relationships that are made, and how they serve the company in the medium term, as well as the long term.

For example, a successful PR campaign should build a relationship of trust that leads to loyal customers or business contacts, or establishes the company as a reliable and permanent source for future alliances with the media. It’s also important to remind our clients that they only get one chance to make a first impression, and that is where our consultancy and advice can be invaluable.

Unfortunately, clients rarely consider all of this when budgeting for their PR campaigns and reviewing our fees. That is why, as PR agencies, we must continue to educate our clients about what the final objectives are, and what they are really worth.

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