Since the dawn of PR, practitioners have been looking for one-size-fits-all ROI to prove their worth, in line with (some) other departments. With Equivalent Advertising Values (EAVs) and clip volumes now ‘officially’ derided, the quest for meaningful metrics continues.
This is especially true for social media, where the quest enters a minefield. How do you show an ROI on the cost to monitor what is being said about your company? And how do you show an ROI on the resources used to pro-actively engage with users and promote a brand?
There is no shortage of quantitative metrics to measure a campaign’s success – total reach via twitter followers, number of influential blogs/tweeters linking to us, and number of retweets to name only a few. The dazzling array of numbers can understandably leave us feeling bewildered. Particularly if what we are ultimately looking to measure is bottom-line sales.
Qualitatively, we can look at sentiment towards the brand, and how this changes over time, as an example. These ‘softer’ metrics are naturally harder to report on, but are just as, if not more important, because they ultimately affect a company’s reputation.
It is this premise that led Dallas Lawrence to introduce the idea of ‘return on avoiding pain’. Rather than looking solely at numerical outputs, we should also be looking at future crises stopped in their tracks by picking up potential reputational threats early, and engaging before they snowball into mainstream news/disasters.
Ultimately, any measurement of success will be dependent on concrete aims and objectives defined before a campaign, from which desired outputs and outcomes can be evaluated. The concept if ROAP is of course even more difficult to quantify, but is an important one to consider – what is the price for a damaged reputation?