Public relations, like anything else, has its own vocabulary. When you’re working with your PR team to plan a successful campaign, it helps to know the meaning of terms that PR professionals use. The terms outputs, outtakes, outcomes, and impacts are important elements of a PR campaign that you should know.
In our previous post, we explained inputs and activities using a fictional company, Twidget, as it begins a new PR campaign. Twidget’s goal is to increase awareness of its new product line. Its S.M.A.R.T objectives are 1.) to increase sharing of new product line posts on social media platforms and 2.) to increase positive reputation by the end of the next quarter. As part of its strategy, Twidget’s PR team intends to measure if there is any correlation between the audience sharing behavior, positive social media sentiment analysis, and sales conversions. Additionally, the team will work closely with influencers and other members of the media to align earned media coverage with the new product line.
Here, Axia Public Relations defines each of the elements that help you measure the success of your PR campaign.
Outputs: What you put out to target audiences
These are news releases, email marketing blasts, and events, as well as the media coverage that these generate. Outputs also include proactive communication by an organization on its owned media channels and properties. In the most basic of terms, did the PR team’s message get exposed to an audience?
In our Twidget example, social media posts, news releases, and sponsored events are all outputs. Notice there is no evaluation at this point as to how effective they were. Outputs are simply the work you produce. As such, they are fairly easy metrics to collect. How many people attended the event? How many tweets or Instagram posts did you create? How many media impressions did your news release reach?
Outtakes: What audiences do with your communication
Think of this as knowledge transfer; it’s what an audience now understands after its exposure to content about your organization or brand. Audience engagement, sharing, and commenting are examples of outtakes. How did your efforts change minds or touch emotions to provoke a behavior? For Twidget, outtakes were one of its objectives. To measure audience behavior change – in this case social media sharing – is to measure an outtake.
Outcomes: The effects your communication has on audiences
What happened as the result of a campaign? In PR, this would typically be a measurable change in awareness, knowledge, attitude, opinion, behavior, or reputation metrics. What change did your social media efforts make? Did customer loyalty for the brand improve? Are your leads more qualified? Did increased engagement lead to people subscribing to your newsletter or downloading an e-book? Can you attribute increased sales directly to increased product awareness? The PR team at Twidget selected improved reputation as a primary outcome that would flow from its outputs and manifest as concrete outcomes.
Impacts: The results that your communication brings
Impacts clearly demonstrate how the efforts of the PR team affect business objectives. For example, if Twidget meets its reputation objective, does this transfer to the organization as a whole or is it limited to the new product line? Does improved reputation lead to greater sales overall? How much greater? By keeping in mind how the work of the PR team helps reach organizational objectives, the team can prove how it provides real value to the company as a whole through solid numbers and tie-in to the bottom line.
Taking this kind of systematic approach leads to increased client confidence, agency credibility, and stronger relationships built on mutual trust. Does your current PR agency have your full confidence and trust? Talk to the pros at Axia Public Relations to see how we use meaningful metrics to create PR plans with impact.
If you would like to learn all about measuring what matters in your communication efforts, join Axia Public Relations at our PR Measurement Webinar on
Wednesday, June 6 at 2 p.m. EST.
Clients love Noell’s high tech PR and instructional design experience. She earned her Master of Science in information technology management and business analytics from University of North Carolina. Noell has worked with Axia since November 2017.
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