Back in the day, we measured ROI of a public relations campaign with media impressions. We took a story in the daily newspaper and multiplied the circulation by 2.65 (the number of people we believed read a paper including pass-along rate). That’s how the total number of media impressions was calculated and how the success of a story placement or “hit” was determined.
This equation is still in force today; however, the number of people actually reading a newspaper today is lower and suspect. How can we be sure the headline and lead aren’t the only two pieces of a print story to garner attention?
The other way we measured ROI was to calculate column inches for a story to determine how much ink our placement secured. Other ways we gauged success was to look at story content, tone, quotes, etc. These measurement tactics for traditional media relations haven’t changed, but the two PR ROI calculations for impressions and ink are archaic.
Yet in today’s Wall Street Journal, I was astonished to see “media impressions” used to describe the success of a campaign by Cricket Communications and Samsung Electronics to open new markets with the “world’s largest fully functioning cell phone, the Samsung Messenger ( 15’ x 11’ x 3’).” Not only did this stunt garner “38 million media impressions (the number of people who may have seen an article, heard something on the radio, watched something on TV, or read something on the Web),” it was entered in the Guinness Book of World Records by payment of nearly $5,000 to make the event official with a judge.
Nowhere in the story today is there mention of social media ROI to calculate campaign success; palpable.
If marketing is inviting public relations to the table to brainstorm events not yet designated world records by Guinness World Records, Ltd., shouldn’t social media as a bona fide strategy be included to calculate campaign success?