CPM: A Legitimate PR Tool for Online Communications

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With PR pros looking to measure the effectiveness of community outreach via their digital channels, there’s an ongoing debate about whether CPM (cost-per-thousand) should be part of the conversation.

CPM, of course, is a universal advertising measurement. It enables media brands to sell advertising inventory based on the number of eyeballs that view an ad, whether in print or online.

Media mavens tend to pooh-pooh CPMs as a legitimate PR tool.

But CPMs can apply to a slew of digital channels, starting with the volume of traffic on your website. CPMs can also apply to social channels, such as the number of Facebook followers.

“Thousand” can represent “quality messages delivered through target[ed] media,” according to Mark Weiner, CEO of PRIME Research Americas. And in an increasingly digital age, targeted media could mean a Twitter campaign, engaging with a LinkedIn group or posting a video on YouTube.

As digital channels evolve into the core of marketing communications, the onus is on PR pros to measure all their digital efforts and align them with corporate goals and objectives.

In this excerpt from PR News’ Digital PR Guidebook Weiner and Johna Burke, executive VP of media monitoring company BurrellesLuce, provide a checklist of what C-level executives want in PR measurement.

1. Align PR measures with the organization’s overall objectives (rather than professional or departmental goals).

2. Report PR results in the language of business (rather than PR speak such “buzz,” “impressions” and “influencers.”)

3. Make sure reports are concise, accurate and guide the decisions executives make (in addition to informing the decisions practitioners make).

4. Avoid perceived prejudice by employing third-party objectivity (similar to an account’s annual audit or a doctor’s physical exam).

5. Eliminate risk by applying generally accepted PR measurement techniques and metrics (Barcelona Principles).

For the full report on this topic, plus dozens of other actionable tips and tactics for digital communications, order the 2013 PR News Digital Guidebook now.

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1