A few months back someone posed a question in a Linked-In discussion group wondering how much the major hit in USA Today he had just got for a client was worth. Obviously he is not the first PR practitioner to ask this question. Before pondering the answer, there are several questions we should address first:
- How many people in our target audience had an opportunity to see the placement?
- How many actually saw it?
- Of these, how many actually read the article?
- Of those reading it, did it change their thinking in any way?
- Did they forward it on to others?
- Mention it in a phone conversation with a friend?
- Visit a website?
- Digg it.
- Tweet it?
- Blog about it?
- Buy it?…
While one must have Exposure before Engagement, much like Awareness must precede Purchase Consideration, true value creation begins at the Engagement stage. Using old school language, value occurs with Outcomes, not Outputs. Seems simple enough yet the majority of PR professionals are still relying on output-oriented metrics like clip counts and ad value equivalents (AVEs) to judge success. PR pros who are savvy about social media seem to be further evolved. They understand that true value is not in the content (an output) per se, but in the level of engagement caused by the content.
Are you looking for value in all the right or wrong places?