Implementing Marketing PR and evaluating results

MPR contribution to the bottom line is difficult to measure, because it is used along with other promotional tools. The three most commonly used measures of MPR effectiveness are number of exposures; awareness, comprehensive, or attitude change; and contribution to sales and profits.

The easiest measure of MPR effectiveness is the number of exposure carried by the media. Publicists supply the client with a clippings book showing all the media that carried news about the product and a summary statement such as the following:

Media coverage included 3,500 column inches of news and photographs in 350 publications with a combined circulation of 79.4 million; 2,500 minutes of air time of 290 radio stations and an estimated audience of 65 million, and 660 minutes of air time on 160 television stations with an estimated audience of 91 million. If this time and space had been purchased at advertising rates, it would have amounted to $1,047,000.

This measure is not very satisfying because it contains no indication of how many people actually read, heard, or recalled the message and what they though afterward; nor does it contain information on the net audience reached, because publication overlap in readership. Because publicity’s goal is reach, not frequency, it would be more useful to know the number of duplicated exposures.

A better measure is the change in product awareness, comprehension, or attitude resulting from the MPR campaign (after allowing for the effect of other promotional tools). For example, how many people recall hearing the news item? How many told others about it (a measure of word of mouth)? How many changed their minds after hearing it?

Sales-and-profit impact is the most satisfactory measure. For examples, 9-Lives cat food sales increased 43% by the end of the Morris the Cat PR campaign. However, advertising and sales promotion had also been stepped up. Suppose total sales have increased by $1.5 million, and management estimates that MPR contributed 15% of the total increase. Then the return on MPR investment is calculated as follows:

Total sales increase————$1,500,000
Estimated sales increase due to PR(15%)————225,000
Contribution margin on product sales (10%)————22,500
Total direct cost of MPR program————210,000
Contribution margin added by PR investment————12,500
Return on MPR investment ($12,500/$10,000)————125%