Let’s face it, public relations measurement isn’t fun or exciting. Creating dashboards, reviewing data and figuring out the why behind the metrics is great if you’re an analyzer who likes to dig into the data. Yet it’s probably one of the most important areas where we as business leaders and owners need to focus.
In public relations, I’ve heard it said that programs and projects cannot be measured. Not true. A well organized and thought out plan includes a lead up to the expected metrics. And honestly, I can be a bit of a data geek when I dive into Google Analytics or review details on an email newsletter campaign.
Often, we meet with prospects who want to get straight to the tactic. Their expectations are high. They want their news release to hit the mark and generate article after article. Others want a social media program, yet when we ask what’s the message and goal, they aren’t sure. This is why it’s important to have a plan with realistic measurement tools embedded.
Think of it like this. If you build a house, you don’t jump in picking flooring, countertops, paint, backsplashes and all of the other selections that make the home look nice and impress the guest. You think big picture: where’s the lot, what’s the home’s floor plan, what’s the timeline, how much will it cost and more?
So ask: what’s the lead up to your public relations plan and what’s your expectation. What are you measuring? If you’re not sure if it’s realistic, consult a public relations professional.
While thinking through measurements for this blog, I did what most professionals do—searched Google. Most of what I read was a refresher, but overall it made me think this: PR professionals have been trying to unravel the measurement mystery for decades. Most of our clients want to keep it simple, and those clients range from top global companies to local non-profits.
In 2010, the Barcelona Principles were adopted by PR professionals during a conference in none other than Barcelona. This is a set of seven principles that provide the first overarching framework for effective public relations (PR) and communication measurement.
- Goal setting and measurement are fundamental to communications and PR: Your public relations project or program should have goals that are measurable. Think about how you’ll measure.
- Measuring communication outcomes is recommended vs. only measuring outputs: You are printing 1,000 postcards and mailing them. How many leads do you want? How many clients?
- The effect on organizational performance can and should be measured where possible: Maybe your company has a fantastic community relations program. How does that impact your employee retention, for example?
- Measurement and evaluation require both qualitative and quantitative methods: Surveys are great, but face to face interviews or focus groups allow people to speak and share ideas. You can really get to the why with qualitative research.
- Advertising Value Equivalents are not the value of the communication: Yes. Nothing more to add here.
- Social media can and should be measured: While this seems like a no brainer, consider these principles were created in 2010. Facebook and Twitter were four to six years old, respectively.
- Measurement and evaluation should be transparent, consistent and valid: Consider the ethics and integrity of the data and evaluation. Also consider how it will be shared.
Measurement takes planning, organization, time and commitment. It’s done in partnership with clients. And when it’s done well you don’t just feel the impact, you see it in data, dashboards and reports. And for us, that’s the fun part–impacting a client business by meeting their goals and objectives.