Marketers like precision, and PR programs have traditionally been less than structured with fewer set metrics. Months into a campaign, it’s not uncommon for marketers to struggle with the ROI proposition. Many marketing executives crave the value a great earned media campaign can bring, but often have to sideline their vision due to the ambiguity of traditional PR campaign outcomes.

With methods, budgets and outcomes varying from one firm to the next, what structure can or should be in place? anthonyBarnum has spent many years working to answer this question with the goal of creating efficient and systematic campaigns.

Here are the top four ways PR campaigns can be designed to determine outcomes:

  1. Marketing Objectives First

A press release, a series of media outreach on various subject matters and a couple of media placements do not comprise a campaign. The very first step in designing a PR campaign is to define the marketing objectives in context of PR. This requires a PR team that can translate the most efficient way to align PR with marketing’s goals. This includes interpreting the marketing message for the news media environment; translating the personas into the categories of media that are most likely to be influential; and aligning thought leadership concepts with what differentiates the company and ultimately matters to the targeted audience. The last point is critical – thought leadership can be engaging, but may still miss the boat. Laser focus must be on the persona audience’s needs, and what distinguishes the value of the company’s product or solution-set.

  1. Budget to Outcomes

Budgets should not be ambiguous—they should be based on anticipated outcomes. While a radical idea in the world of PR, anthonyBarnum collects data and metrics of similar campaign types to help define results. We leverage hard, predefined metrics to offer marketers outcome guidelines and forecasted results. Not only should budget correlate with outcomes, but the marketer should be able to look at similar campaign types from point-of-origination to gauge true ROI with ramp-up time incorporated. There is a difference between a company seeking to increase its brand presence in a known category and the ultra-innovative companies that start out with no exposure and have no existing category infrastructure. The ultra-innovative company will likely require more time on the frontend of the campaign to introduce it as a concept to targeted media, thus requiring a bit more time in the water prior to ROI.

  1. The Concept Matters

While objectives and budget-to-outcome analytics are important, so too is the underlying impact of the software in its industry or segment of business. A consideration when designing the outcomes of a PR campaign is the level of interest in the subject matter from media. To understand this more conceptual area of programming, the senior leaders of the PR team need to frame thought leadership pitches or approaches to media relations that are likely impactful. The best way to measure the stickiness of a concept is to research the media environment on the subject in advance of execution. In some cases, the PR team needs to evaluate similar scenarios versus concepts, or a combination of both, to project likely engagement from the media. It’s important to remember this more conceptual facet of determining outcomes has its own set of methodologies.

  1. Timing (and Program Timing) is Everything

To truly define outcomes, the vision of the campaign has to be outlined in context of all the available and upcoming assets that can be leveraged. More importantly than putting together tactics, programming is really about creating or driving inflection points in the media. For example, if a company is planning a breakthrough new product launch, it can optimize the outcomes of that launch by executing a thought leadership campaign designed to pre-introduce concepts to targeted media. The goal is to engage media ready to have a deeper conversation and report on the news versus trying to introduce the concept and product in one swoop. The PR team will break down various scenarios, referencing outcomes of similar circumstances, to guide marketing on what is likely to have the best results.

In an objectives-based approach that synthesizes data, concepts and programming elements, PR campaign outcomes can be designed and optimized with metrics. Executive marketers who rely on data everyday don’t have to forfeit these ideas when engaging in PR— with the right process and PR team, they can engineer it.