help! a pr system wish list

Hello. Can you hear us? We work in pr and we've been waiting for a decent system to evaluate. We've been waiting for some time so we've decided to come up with our own. Okay with you?

by Kate Reynolds

There has long been an understanding in the PR industry that we need to evaluate our achievements and impact. We get this. We know it's critical to evaluate to help us learn and improve, demonstrate our value to our internal stakeholders and report back how investment has made a difference to business objectives. We also know there isn’t one single measure that will do this for us but a balanced scorecard approach looking at our performance over a range of metrics is the way to go. (Check out the Barcelona Principles for background on this.)

We also know that we need to carefully plan our PR activity and that great coverage – and great business outcomes - result from knowing what the journalist wants and tailoring stories to meet their needs. Rocket science this ain't.

But I've yet to discover a product that makes this managing these steps easier. Sure, I've cobbled together my own system from Excel-Precise-Pressvine-Google Alerts but it's not simple, beautiful or smooth. And in particular, the scoring of coverage is a crude (and mind-numbingly dull) exercise. And I know there’s lots more products out there; I’m trialling Vocus tomorrow, but none have hit the sweet spot yet. So here I am laying down the gauntlet with my wish list in the hope that some clever web developer or systems programmer can hack me a solution (or some super-bright comms person has already got their own and is happy to share it). I would like:

- One simple system in which to plan, draft, target, monitor and evaluate all earned and paid more media activity including social media with multi-user access

- A more sophisticated way of evaluating coverage rather than positive/negative - I want to be able to track whether key messages were included for each story and do this at the click of a button, ideally from my phone

- I want to be able to create beautiful data reports that demonstrate how we compare against our competitors, what the sentiment is of our coverage and whether we achieved our targets plus any other metrics that the executive team might wish for

- I want to be able to track how we're doing in real time - again on my phone or iPad - so I can report up the chain easily where we are and what we're doing

- I want all of this data to be easily exportable into all manner of formats and be able to build up an archive of data so we can compare performance month-on-month and year-on-year

- My emphasis here is more on PR but an ideal system would incorporate social media and online presence too

So if you’ve already cracked this, I’d love to hear how you do it or if you have a system to recommend, please share it in the comments.

P.S I wrote this post without mentioning AVEs – go me! (Doh.)

Kate Reynolds is Group Head of PR and Communications at Sanctuary Group

Picture credit.