Measurement Mania: The Daunting Task of Proving Your PR Worth

PR measurement – we all understand its value and importance to our industry. Similar to other fields, it is our job as PR professionals to deliver quality work and prove the value of our efforts. The hardest part is figuring out HOW to prove value. With a variety of tracking tools to choose from and a ton of different reporting styles, measurement can be an intimidating task. But once you get down to it, the golden answer to tracking is really simple – give the client or C-suite what they want. It’s important to understand their goals and make sure your measurement and reporting properly reflect those goals; otherwise, you’re walking a fine line between information that is useful and information that is definitely not.

In our industry, it seems like the only consistency in conversations about measurement are phrases such as:

  • “You’re doing it wrong.”
  • “The measurement style you’re using is so outdated.”
  • “Count this, not that.”
  • “Use these new guidelines and forget those old ones.”

Measurement nerds like me are so hard on each other! Instead of these negative-driven discussions, we need to shift and create a positive environment establishing goals and showcasing how these goals can be met. While some may argue that counting the number of tweets using your hashtag may seem outdated or frivolous, if this is what your C-suite wants, you need to give it to them.

But what if you don’t agree with the measurement tools your client or C-suite are looking for? You can slowly change their way of viewing measurement, but it likely won’t be all at once. When the Barcelona Principles were introduced a few years ago, I think many PR pros thought they had to jump off the measurement cliff and make a full throttle shift from quantitative to qualitative data. I would hazard to guess that a lot of those jumpers found themselves stuck between a rock (new, radically different measurement tools) and a hard place (an “old-fashioned” C-suite looking for hard numbers). What may be a safer bet is to introduce factors of qualitative data over time to supplement your existing quantitative measurements. Just because a panel of PR professionals decided that measurement guidelines had to be changed doesn’t mean your C-suite thinks the same thing. Changing measurement principles is a marathon, NOT a sprint.

In my job at MediaSource, I help our clients tell the best story – and it’s important to also do the same when we report results. My measurement team may not have the cool cameras and editing technology that our production team has, but we can tell a story that is just as strong using compelling data. This is something all PR measurement pros should strive for in their reporting process.

Here are a few of my measurement and reporting tips that all PR pros should take to heart:

  • Even if your management requests a simple spreadsheet of data to showcase results, include a written and visual summary of all media relations efforts as well.
  • Develop measureable campaign results at the outset of the project.
  • Do not be resistant to change, but don’t make a change without getting approval from the people you report to first.
  • Establish yearly touch bases with each client or with your C-suite to discuss the results from the year prior and establish what the goals are for the next year. There’s nothing worse than blindly tracking for an extended period of time just to find out the results you are reporting are not what your client or C-suite are looking for.
  • Do not be afraid to speak up and offer recommendations to those managing the campaign. If you can tell through your measurement work that a campaign is not performing well at the halfway point, SAY SOMETHING. Your management will appreciate the heads up and you can work together and make adjustments to the campaign to (hopefully!) ensure better results and meet your goals.
  • Always, always, ALWAYS report the most accurate results you can. It is your job to show both your team and the client/C-suite what is working well and what is not. Having trustworthy reports will only increase their reliance on your skills moving forward.

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