If you’re going to measure, you have to get real and face the music

Ruler with imperial and metric measurementsLately there has been much more of a focus on public relations measurement, which I think is a great step for the industry. My concern with suddenly embracing measurement is that it’s a bit like Othello – takes a minute to learn the basics, but a lifetime to master.

Measurement is tough, and measuring PR requires a great deal of thought. There are many, many factors to consider when deciding what metrics to use and what exactly it is that you want to measure. Sometimes when folks rush into measurement, they only focus on metrics or media sources that they think are going to yield the best results. Why? Because it’s easy to get budget for a measurement project that is going to give you a pat on the back.

Be real and honest with yourself. Do you want to measure your PR programs, campaigns and events? Or do you want to discover new data that will make you look good? They’re not always one and the same.

I will admit that I am guilty of this, too, and it can be easy to seek out measurements that show yourself or your efforts in the best light. But I urge you to understand a few things before you jump into measurement:

  1. You are not going to like all of the results that you find.
  2. Even if you aren’t using every media channel to reach your customers, your customers are probably using them to talk about you.
  3. You should do a trial run first. Get an idea of how much content you will be dealing with and how long it will take you to analyze it.
  4. Be prepared for speed bumps and learning curves. If you have never done a measurement project before, you will make mistakes.
  5. Devote the most amount of time to analysis of data and content. While collecting the right data is important, it should take you much longer to fully understand its implications.

For those of you who have experience with measurement, what are your best tips? I’ve found the most important thing to consider when diving in is to understand that not all the results will be pretty. It’s hard to face the music sometimes, but in order to get a true and complete picture, you must be willing to accept the whole picture. You must take the bad with the good.

In the end, understanding everything will do you more good than only focusing on the praise you already receive.  For those of you that have taken a dip in the measurement pool, what surprising results did you find?

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