Wow you really don't like us poor old PR people do you? So - how DO you replace the clip books - which you are so scathing of – and our bosses and client still demand? Can you help me understand how to explain to a client exactly what they have paid for on a monthly basis - you can't just say it's all out there in cyberland somewhere - they want to see results."
Here is a longer version of what I answered back to Lee.
Back in the day, I was VP marketing & PR for several public companies and engaged PR agencies, paying USD $20,000 and more per month.
I was always annoyed at the "clip book" form of measurement, but in the 1990s we had nothing better. (A clip book is a gathering of all the "clippings" cut from magazines and newspapers about your company in a month and presented as a bound book usually by your PR agency.)
The bigger the better.
In a good month, agencies would proudly drop the clip book on a table to hear the "thud factor." A deep resonance was good.
The problem I have with clip book measurement is that it does not reflect the realities of what we can do today to reach our audiences via the Web. A clip book implies that all we care about is ink from mainstream media. Measuring success by focusing only on the number of times the mainstream media write or broadcast about you misses the point.
If a blogger is spreading your ideas, that's great.
If a thousand people watch your YouTube video, that's awesome.
If a hundred people email a link to your information to their networks, tweet about you, or post about you on their Facebook page, that's amazing.
If you come up on the first page of Google for an important phrase, break out the champagne!
You're reaching people, which was the point of seeking media attention in the first place, right?
But most PR people only measure traditional media like magazines, newspapers, radio, and TV, and this practice doesn’t capture the value of sharing.
Here are some things you can measure.
1. How many people are getting exposed to your ideas?
2. How many people are downloading your stuff?
3. How often are bloggers writing about you and your ideas?
4. (And what are those bloggers saying?)
5. Where are you appearing in search results for important phrases?
6. How many people are engaging with you and choosing to speak to you about your offerings?
7. How are sales going? Is the company reaching its goals?
I talk more about these ideas in a free ebook I published last year.