PR News’ recent Measurement Conference provided an interesting glimpse into the state of PR measurement and analytics, bringing together a cross section of practitioners. Some attendees had fully integrated PR measurement strategies and others were just starting to look at PR measurement and analytics. Wherever they were in their journey, it was encouraging to see so many communicators in one room who recognize the importance of measurement and analysis to not only help them prove their value but also become more proactive and strategic business partners.
A few common challenges emerged regardless of experience level. Whether they were seasoned data analysts or measurement newbies, many continue to wrestle with these issues when it comes to creating an insightful PR measurement strategy:
1. How to Tie Your PR Measurement Strategy to the Business
Starting with the first session and throughout the day, speakers unanimously agreed that reach and potential impressions metrics are quickly becoming irrelevant. As AMEC Global Managing Director Johna Burke pointed out in her session about the Barcelona Principles 2.0, if you have 6 billion impressions but can’t walk out on the street and have one person tell you about your brand, it’s probably a fake metric. To implement a PR measurement strategy that provides insight, you must root your metrics in the goals of the business.
I think all communicators can agree with this premise, but attendees’ first question was: how do I actually do that?
The simplest and best answer is to have a conversation with your senior leadership about the company’s priorities and how you can contribute. Once you know the challenges they’re trying to solve, you can bring forward insights that matter.
2. How to Attribute Business Impact
The ways in which you can attribute your business impact are not always obvious. Even after you’ve had the conversation with senior leadership, it might take some creative thinking to determine how you can contribute to that goal. If your CEO says, “our only goal this year is to grow by 30% percent,” you might feel pressure to tie to a dollar amount. But unless you’re an online retailer or similar direct to consumer business, this is very difficult and PR pros should be wary of metrics like AVE’s that claim to do so.
Think creatively about this goal: will you be recruiting new sales and marketing employees? You’ll want to be known as a great place to work. Trying to attract a millennial and Gen Z audience? They want to do business with socially conscious organizations.
Using accurate and relevant data, correlate how your work impacts:
- Website Traffic
- Hiring efforts
- Sign ups
- Employee engagement
3. How to Find Agreement and Get Buy-In
Most questions throughout the conference revolved around how to get stakeholders on board with a new measurement strategy. If executives are accustomed to seeing growing impressions quarter over quarter, how can you convince them that new metrics are more valuable?
Panelists agreed you can’t completely rip the rug out from under them. Show them impressions, but then introduce a metric that actually provides an insight into a business challenge they’re trying to solve. This is a sure-fire way to get buy-in from senior leadership. Try introducing demographic and psychographic data that shows what percentage of your coverage and key messages reached your target audience – not just 6 billion anonymous people. Those are conversations that the rest of the business can understand.
Getting people on board with a new measurement strategy requires asking a lot of questions of your stakeholders, from executive leadership to teams outside your department like Marketing and HR. It’s worth the effort to ensure agreement across stakeholders and align your metrics to business goals from the outset of your PR measurement strategy.