Public relations and communications plans take focus and consistency. Many business leaders work in companies with in-house marketing/communications professionals or own companies with outsourced marketing communications teams in place. Each month, these leaders review spreadsheets, P&Ls, balance sheets and other reports to be sure the business is financially healthy. Do those reports include marketing/communications dashboards? After all, isn’t it the marketing/communications that’s driving branding, new business, consumer purchases–your cash flow?
Some say public relations is intangible. With the advent of Google Analytics, email newsletters and social media, I disagree. And even before these tools were available, communications could be measured via qualitative and quantitative surveys, if not bumps in sales. A well planned and consistent strategy includes goals. And those goals should align to regular monthly marketing/communications dashboards. Before starting a dashboard consider these questions:
1) Do we have a public relations or marketing/communications plan?
Without a plan, it’s hard to determine what you’re measuring. A strategic plan has goals with tactics that align to what your team is trying to achieve. That drives your measurements. Maybe you want to lower your cost per click in your pay per click campaign while driving more consumer calls/emails. Tracking starting with a baseline and then reviewing monthly reports allows you to see if the campaign works.
2) How many people participate in your plan/tactics and who’s the lead?
We have clients with robust advertising, social media, and Internet presence. Our team acts as the conduit to not only plan the public relations and communications, we oversee the overall message, strategy and goals. Each month, we pull together a dashboard to tell the client how each tactic is performing. That means we’re reporting items such as: are campaign landing pages tracking new consumers, are those consumers using coupons, do consumers from pay per click campaigns produce calls/clicks. We’re also watching Google analytics. If we ask customers to write blogs or create content, we know that’s their time. We want to be sure it’s well invested. Is anyone reading the content? When emails are sent on behalf of a sales team, are they opened and read?
3) What happens if a tactic is not working?
Public relations and marketing/communications professionals know if a tactic isn’t producing then it shouldn’t be repeated. Sending out news releases and no one is picking them up? Spending time loading social media posts and no one is engaging? Ask why and analyze whether or not to continue.
4) What happens if something is working?
Pat yourself on the back. Then consider doing more of it and investing more time/budget.
Finally remember tracking public relations and marketing/communications work to creating dashboards isn’t a tool to bring someone to task for poor performance. It’s a tool to see results and re calibrate as needed to ensure dollars are invested well for ROI now and in the future. That’s why you measure twice and continue cutting and adding to find the perfect plan for your business.