Measuring PR – Outputs, Out-takes and Outcomes

I came across some insightful research from the Institute for Public Relations recently that I thought it might be worthwhile to share…

IPR’s research indicates the power of using metrics (units of measurement) to track PR, and they have developed a neat methodology for what to measure, and how to measure both the process and the results of those processes.

The three metrics in their research are:

Outputs – outputs are the actual mechanisms of PR, the products you might produce, whether they are media releases, tweets and blogs, brochures, e-newsletters… the tangible evidence of your campaign.

Out-takes – these are the key messages that you want your audience to take away as a result of your outputs, i.e. buy more of this, rather than that.

Outcomes – the change in behaviour or in purchasing that the author wants to see happen.

So… to take one of their own case studies as an example, SouthWest Airlines, who when launching a new route, successfully used the three key metrics to measure the direct financial impact PR had on the business’ growth.

In this particular campaign, there were several recognised phases: beginning with ‘word of mouth’, then moving on to a media blitz, which was then followed by direct mail and emails to individual customers.

The use of the three ‘O’ metrics in charting Southwest’s PR effectiveness can be summarised thus:

Business Goal: Sell more plane tickets.

Communication Objective: Drive traffic to website from media releases and media stories.

Output: Media releases—number of articles released, amount of news coverage generated.

Out-takes: Increased market awareness of the brand, and of the new route currently being promoted.

Outcomes: Number of tickets sold on target route

Result: Over $40 million in ticket sales from media releases.

It makes sense to measure PR, in the same way one might measure any other input or output of the cost of doing business.  Equally, tracking the different phases of a PR campaign, then adjusting the different elements, enables you to fine tune your campaign in order to maximise results.  In other words, to borrow military jargon, it is a process known as ‘shoot and recalibrate’.

By being strategic and flexible in the way you plan and implement your PR strategy, and measuring its effectiveness, you will be sure to hit your targets every time.

Yours in PR,

Publicity Queen


  1. masego Said:

    Thanks for the clarity, m so gna nail my assignment,all thanks to you

  2. […] of the most effective ways of viewing the research process is in terms of inputs, outputs and outcomes. In order to determine what inputs and outputs should be, and what outcomes actually are, […]

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