Communications: What’s your impact?

March 28, 2022

The numbers are good: strong engagement rate, steady increase in performance throughout the campaign, and sufficient pick up by target media. Yet, something isn’t right. The campaign hasn’t yielded the results these numbers were supposed to produce, and the media engagement figures don’t justify it. Having a closer look at different campaign assets to understand what went wrong isn’t much help either – these assets weren’t assigned their own objectives. 

And this is why we all need the right characteristics and metrics to measure success. In marketing and communications, this is the reason we have measurement at all.   

Measuring the impact of communications is not an arbitrary exercise in the pursuit of flattering statistics. It is meant to guide us into better and smarter ways to tell our stories, to ensure they have power, purpose, and direction. 

Over the last 11 years, our team with a combined experience of over 400 years has poured hours into the analysis and assessment of what makes powerful marketing and communications. Perhaps before even a decisive and directional strategy, the objectives and purpose with which you set out to do marketing and communications activities are most important.  

Without starting with the definition of success or being clear about what we need to achieve from activities, the outputs and the relative level of success can really vary, and the client’s communication and business objectives must be built into this process. An activity that drives footfall will be very different to an activity that drives brand recognition. It’s not to say that one activity can’t do both, but without being clear from the outset then it’s unlikely it will produce exactly what it needs to.  

It follows then that, in an evolved media landscape, it isn’t enough to count outputs or simply monitor vanity metrics. It’s what you measure and whether it’s making an organisational impact and working to achieve business objectives that count.  

Innovation in public relations 

As an agency, we are constantly working with our clients to move away from simply ‘output-based’ tactical work, to also incorporating an integrated campaign-led approach for maximum impact. In the course of this work, we developed our own media coverage measurement tool based on Barcelona Principles 3.0, which first and foremost stipulate that “setting measurable goals is an absolute prerequisite to communication planning, measurement and evaluation.” 

The Media Content Analysis Model was built to record, analyse and report on media coverage as an output achieved through our award-winning public relations programmes. The metrics used within the model take into consideration the ever-expanding media landscape and as such feature qualitative and quantitative data, including pre-determined ‘quality criteria’ developed based on our clients’ bespoke business objectives, as well as reach, impressions, tone of voice, number of clippings and cost-per-contact (CPC), in conformity with principles 4 and 6 of Barcelona Principles. 

With input that combines our clients’ objectives, our thorough understanding of media and public relations, and the metrics that capture the right aspects of performance with impressive precision, we created a perfectly adaptable tool with which to assess marcomms activities. This includes the ability to measure tactical and output-based performance, ensuring that each campaign asset and piece of content will fall into place guided by pre-defined objectives. 


An award-winning approach 

Researched, refined and pilot-tested over an extended period, the new and improved reporting system aims to support our daily mission as a strategy-led, integrated agency: delivering real value and high impact results for our clients. The model has been behind several of our award wins over the past 10 months.  

More precisely, the Media Content Analysis Model was launched at the PRIA Golden Target Awards, where Acorn Strategy took home the Silver and Bronze awards for Community Relations & Management and Corporation Reputation, respectively, in partnership with our client, Inverse Interactive.  

Inverse and Acorn Strategy’s Melbourne and Perth Offices worked on the pilot project ‘VR Night at the Opera’, which pioneered the use of virtual reality for entertainment during the pandemic. The campaign saw Inverse Interactive, Australia’s first 3D VR streaming platform, hire Acorn Strategy to bring the event to life through public relations services. The objectives were to generate national media coverage in Australia and business enquiries, over a period of three months. 

And just as well as it was thought out and planned, the campaign received considerable acclaim.  It was an immediate success, bringing joy to many hearts in Australia’s aged-care sector, generating massive media coverage, and booking a place for Acorn Strategy on the awards shortlist of the world’s largest professional PR body, PRCA. 

But how did we get here? 

The Media Content Analysis Model takes the credit for much of it, having guided the campaign’s tactics based on an accurate reading of performance in real-time. The model demonstrated the effectiveness of our work to Inverse, and consequently, to PRCA jury members and the PR industry in Australia. Its object-driven approach to measuring success, and the genuinely useful insights the model brought to our clients are what put us ahead of even major national brands, such as Virgin Australia, Coles Group, and Philips Group.   

And here we are now. Even with the busy start of 2022, our Client Experience team continues to work towards new processes and tactics based on the best PR and marketing knowledge developed anywhere in the world. We apply learnings as soon as we learn them and take the lead in tailoring each approach to fit your business model and objectives.  

We are very proud to be offering this as a value add to each and every one of our clients and look forward to discussing the model with you.