PR measurement was never meant to be an exclusive club

Close-up of stack of mobile phones with a tape measureOK, maybe I have a biased opinion about this, but I don’t think PR measurement was ever intended to be an exclusive club.

I remember learning about measurement during the first week of my first PR course in college. We even learned an acronym that included research and measurement: RACE (Research, Action, Communication and Evaluation). Research and evaluation were engrained in me right off the bat.

Perhaps this made me wrongly assume that measurement was already an integral part of the PR industry, and I’m still continually surprised by how few professionals talk about it.

Not to say there aren’t a handful of incredibly knowledgeable folks out there who always share amazing thoughts and advice, but c’mon, y’all!

I know it’s been said time and again, but measurement has to be a part of each and every campaign or project. Whether it’s as simple as tracking an increase in fans or followers, or an intricate equation balancing numerous metrics, measurement is required to show success.

Think about how you determine success, and I don’t just mean at work. How do you determine whether or not you’re successful in your personal life, too? You set goals, right? And you measure against those goals in real outputs.

If you want to run a marathon by the end of the year, odds are you will measure your success based on whether or not you complete a marathon. Easy enough, right?

So why when it comes to measuring a PR campaign does everyone run for the hills or try to pass the buck? Measurement does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple or extensive as you want it to be.

It may require one extra step or keeping track of a few numbers here and there, but I promise you, anyone can measure. You do not have to have a background in advanced mathematics or be an Excel spreadsheet master. But if you know that 2+2=4, you can measure your next PR campaign.

Let’s step it up! We’re always talking about it in theory, but I want to hear more about how you’re using measurement in your every day life. There shouldn’t so few voices talking about PR measurement.

What do you measure every day? What do you keep track of? Do you find personal metrics can be applied to your job, too?

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  • Herb56

    I've always wondered how PR practioners could state that their efforts were successful if they didn't know what they were measuring in the first place. You must establish a meaningful and measurable goal (what do you want to accomplish) at the start — for anything in life.

  • I agree! There is no sense in trying to run around quantifying literally EVERYTHING that you do, but you absolutely must have an idea of what success means and how you can measure it. It's frustrating how few people are talking about it in PR!

  • jeffespo

    In terms of measurement on the PR side an easy thing to look at is volume month over month, quarter over quarter. It can also be tied to product launches and judging the success of the pitch.

    Working on something now where we'll take a more holistic approach applying metrics similar to those on the social end.

  • Quick. Tell me how many people this post has reached on Twitter. How about Facebook?

    Now tell me the actual impact to ad revenue that (hypothetically in this case) means for this site?

    See, metrics, measurement and analytics are all about context. What is the business problem this solves? Without setting the context of defining what success looks like, you could be wasting a lot of time and money. Sure, measuring impact and reach are great but how does that translate to making your client more successful.

    And by successful I mean profitable 😉

  • I agree, but what does that really tell you? Is volume your goal? And why?

    It all can tie back to goals and objectives, we just have to learn to do it right away and not shy away from it.

  • Ha ha. Don't be sassy!

    I'm with you 100%. It's all about figuring out before you start what problem you intend to address and how you will define your success. I don't mean to insist we all have to track Twitter or Web analytics. If you simply want to increase followers for the sake of increasing followers, well, that's pretty easy to measure!

    I just mean that any tactic can have a measurable outcome if we just take the time to think it through beforehand.

  • I agree with waht you say.
    Having an extensive background in communication effects research & measurement I am always glad to hear others get creative about measurement.
    What we all have to keep in mind is that evaluation doesn't start nor end with visits, reach, etc.
    Too often we forget that we really have to start in the very beginning – although the goal can't be to adapt objectives to measurement but measure how objectives help us achieve goals.
    And that's why it's great to have everyone participate.

  • jeffespo

    It is all about addressing what is important to your organization.

    The old model of using ad equated value is BS. Conversation share is a metric that I think companies can use a lot more. Most times the marketing end talks in terms of wallet share. For PR it is all about the mind share.

    So the volume in comparison to the competition month over month will help show where you stack up against the competition.

  • You're absolutely right! Evaluation isn't that finite, and it should never be restricted to just one metric.

    I'm glad you bring up not adapting objectives to measurement because it's important to reach your goals without compromising, and they must realistically be able to achieve those goals!

  • Cindi

    Does anyone have any reporting examples they'd be willing to share? I am still using ad equated value because that's how it's been done and the board and leadership of my not-for-profit are used to seeing that type of report (plus, they can easily understand it). Does anyone have any success stories on switching an organization from ad value to another measurement? Thanks in advance!