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PR Measurement: An Integrated Approach

In recent years, multi-channel communication has blurred the lines between paid, earned, shared and owned media (known as the PESO model).

An integrated approach includes all aspects of communications — public relations, marketing, social media, advertising — for a 360-degree view of the planning and measurement process.

Media relations resulting in coverage is earned media, which has always been the stalwart of public relations. That’s no longer the case. Messages can begin as earned media and then may be repurposed and moved through owned, shared and paid to boost engagement and awareness or increase uptake with your target audience(s).


The communication industry may always struggle with who does what, especially when it comes to marketing/advertising and PR. People tend to think each is a separate, distinct entity with different goals; in reality, the best outcomes arise from cross-collaborating and working together.

Related: The PESO Model and the Modern Way to Integrate Communications Efforts

Case in point: Measurement is one of the most challenging aspects of the industry. According to Ragan’s 2023 Communications Benchmark Report, 33% of respondents said a lack of measurement is one of the things most holding them back from producing better communications.

Integrated PR measurement

Communications and PR professionals must show their work’s effect on the business objective—not just output metrics (aka vanity metrics). It’s not enough to just count what’s easy to count; you must measure what really matters.

Consumers engage with companies or brands in many different ways—across multiple platforms and channels. As a result, measuring requires a more integrated approach, such as AMEC’s Integrated Evaluation Framework, to appreciate the impact of all marketing communications efforts.

The AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework (IEF) helps you stop measuring in silos and bring it all together.

For background: AMEC (the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications) is “the world’s largest media intelligence and insights professional organization, representing organizations and practitioners who provide media evaluation and communication research.” In 2010, AMEC developed the ‘Barcelona Principles,’ a best-practice guideline to measure how well PR efforts are working. And in 2016, it launched its interactive Integrated Evaluation Framework (IEF) tool. In 2022, AMEC added a free tutorial course for the IEF that includes a certificate of successful completion.

How to use the AMEC measurement framework

The image below shows some basic information on how to use the framework and how it can be “the heart of the planning, research and evaluation process.”

When you go to the framework’s web page, you’ll find a tile-based, simple-to-use, clickable worksheet that you can complete right on the site and download the finished product.

When you click each tile, you will see a pop-up with additional information and an explanation of the section. Inside the pop-up is a link to a measurement taxonomy – giving you even more information on what types of objectives, activities and measures to include in that section.

The framework begins with planning using your organizational and communications objectives, defining target audience(s), strategic inputs, and activities. Then you move through the core elements of integrated measurement — outputs, outtakes, outcomes, and finally, to the organizational impact.

For example, when you click on the first box, it opens up with two prompts – organizational objectives and communication objectives. Then when you click the info bubble, you see a definition and an option to click for even more information, as you can see in this screenshot.

Once you get past the objectives and strategic inputs (including the target audience), you get to activities — the tactics you intend to employ.

It’s easy to skip over the first part and dive into tactics – resist the urge! Planning is a crucial part of the process.

The next four parts—outputs, outtakes, outcomes and organizational impact—are equally important as this is where the measurement component really takes shape.

Outputs are what you put out to your target audiences—these could be paid (advertising, sponsorships), earned (media volume and impressions), owned (websites, partnerships, direct email), and shared (volume of social shares, posts, videos, etc.).

Outtakes are what the audience takes away from the outputs—what did they do after being exposed to your output? What action did they take—click through, subscribe, share, comment, etc.?

Outcomes are the impact of PR activity on the audience—was there a change in awareness, knowledge, attitude, opinion, or behavior? What were your audience’s takeaways from your output?

You should then be able to demonstrate how the audience moved from the awareness and knowledge phase to consideration, engagement, or action.

The final step is organizational impact. This is where you identify what changed and how it ties back to the organization’s objectives.

But don’t stop there! You now have valid, comprehensive data that you will use to tell the story of how the investment in PR and these communications activities all build to take consumers ‘through the funnel’ and to your goal.

If this seems confusing, I encourage you to take advantage of the free AMEC IEF Tutorial course. Even though I’m familiar with the framework and have been writing about it for nearly a decade, I found the tutorial extremely beneficial.

Confession: I re-visited and took the outputs, outtakes and outcomes quiz three times before I felt like I really ‘got it.’ Then I got this cool certificate. 😊

Related: Is Artificial Intelligence Replacing Humans in PR Measurement?

Wrap up!

AMEC members believe PR and comms pros cannot continue to measure the old way (audience multipliers, AVEs, etc.) if they want to keep (or earn) their ‘seat at the table.’

Burrelles does provide potential audience reach (impressions) and ‘advertising value’ for our clients who need those figures. At the same time, as AMEC members, we recognize and understand there are better ways to prove value and usefulness.

This isn’t new to us. Burrelles introduced media analysis services in 1980, long before executives expected ROI from PR efforts! Even so, you can be sure our methods and results have kept up with the times.

Burrelles offers qualitative, in addition to quantitative, measurement and reporting. Qualitative measurement requires human acumen and perception, which artificial intelligence (AI) simply cannot match.

A message from our Measurement Manager: I asked Marcia Simonds, our media measurement manager, how she would explain what her team of analysts does.

To create a baseline, Burrelles helps you gather content before your campaign begins. We then provide a human review of content to validate the relevance to your goals, like message presence and product pick-up.

We create daily (or weekly, monthly, quarterly) briefings, working together with you to highlight the pressing news of the day and highlight stories that may need immediate attention. Briefings can be delivered very early in the day with mobile-friendly formats, giving employees and other stakeholders a comprehensive view of the day’s issues.

Using prominence and quality rating scores (using your criteria), we can provide value to the coverage beyond volume comparisons and AVEs. We also offer share of voice with the ability to show several market comparison levels (e.g., volume, impressions, direct comparison of like products in key markets.) Perhaps most importantly, we are flexible to the client’s goals.

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