Metrics and Cockfosters

I’ve been a bit delinquent in writing my fair share of posts recently due to my recent vacation to London. I spent one glorious week with my little sister and parents exploring one of the oldest cities in the world.

Continually struck by the historic and surreal atmosphere of the city, I often daydreamed about how different my life could be. What if my ancestors hadn’t left for the new world, would I live in London? Would I still giggle at words like Cockfosters and bangers and mash? (Hang with me for a moment, I promise this isn’t an entirely sentimental and introspective post.)

Each choice we make can have a profound effect on our lives. If I had not chosen to visit the University of North Carolina when I was a senior in high school, I would never have spent four years there. Had I not attended UNC, I likely would not have gone searching for a new major when biochemistry didn’t pan out. If I had continued to push myself to study something I wasn’t truly passionate about, I would never have signed up for the journalism class that led to where I am today.

You can never wake up one day and decide what your life will be like. You choose your path with each choice.

Similarly, you cannot wait until you have finished a campaign, look back and expect to find success. I have said this time and again, but I will keep writing about it until the entire PR industry really listens. Measurement must be planned from the very beginning.

On rare occasions, you will get lucky and be able to find some numbers retroactively. But if you want to really prove value, you have to set yourself up at the very beginning. Decide what success will look like and how you can realistically track it. Record benchmarks so you can accurately show where you were and where you are in the end.

Often I think folks assume that because there is such a wealth of data available online, there is no need to worry about measurement at first. A great deal of data is only available if you have planned to track it and have measures in place. In most instances, you cannot simply decide one day that you want data from the past three months and obtain it easily.

Planning for metrics may seem as silly to PR folks as Cockfosters seems to Americans, but we must learn to become more comfortable with measurement to accurately show our value. Plan for measurement as soon as you start planning anything at all, and you will be able to prove your worth every time.

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  • Great post Rebecca. You are spot on that measurement should be a part of the campaign planning process rather than an afterthought when the campaign has been completed. I think too often we get trapped thinking that as long as we follow the proper roads to creating an effective campaign that are based on the most proven ways to reach our audience, we assume that measurement will reflect the positive results we expected. Planning measurement beforehand actually helps us to fine tune and sharpen the campaign itself to make sure that we are putting our best foot forward. The recent raid of OBL’s camp by the US government is a perfect example – there was careful planning and lengthy discussions of what they expected to achieve and the measurement by which the raid would be judged and evaluated. It helped them to focus and achieve their goal as efficiently as possible.

    • Exactly! So often I think we undervalue ourselves because we haven’t defined what success will look like.

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