PR News Q&A: Margot Sinclair Savell on Avoiding Measurement Blind Spots

Margot Sinclair Savell

Developing a digital PR measurement strategy can be a challenge for PR pros trying to define the ROI of retweets, influencers, fans and followers. According to Margot Sinclair Savell, vice president, measurement and analytics at Weber Shandwick, defining goals for your measurement program will clarify which digital metrics to measure. Sinclair Savell will elaborate on aligning communications objectives with corporate goals, identifying key performance indicators and more at PR News’ Digital Summit on October 5 in New York City. Sinclair Savell, along with VMS’ Angela Jeffrey and CSC’s Nick Panayi, will speak on the panel “Prove the Value of Your Digital Efforts to the C-Suite.”

PR News: What’s your take on digital PR measurement and the ability to prove value to the C-suite?

Margot Sinclair Savell: The C-suite is naturally interested in the value of digital/social media strategies, but executives are not typically attracted to the same engagement metrics that PR managers, agencies and social strategists are capturing. Value to the C-suite is demonstrated through business metrics related to reduced costs or reputation, for example. So the ability to win the attention and support of the C-suite depends on the social media measurement and analysis that you provide.

PR News: When it comes to measurement, what are the common blind spots? What do PR pros often miss?

Sinclair Savell: Social media measurement is still new enough that people are often unsure of which metrics to consider, so they try to measure everything. In my opinion, too many metrics means no metrics—particularly when talking to the C-suite. It’s overwhelming, time-consuming and costly. Choose metrics that are relevant or of the highest importance to the company. For example, if its target audience is not on Twitter, you might not want to consider Twitter metrics.  Another blind spot falls under influence. Influence is much more than followers or fans. Influence must be kept in context. Justin Bieber or Ashton Kutcher can generate millions of followers, but what does that mean to your strategic plan? Find influencers who have the right audience and the relevant messages that resonate with your company’s followers and fans.

PR News: What are the key metrics to consider when measuring social media activity?

Sinclair Savell: The key metrics depend on the goals of the measurement program. Once you determine the goals, then measurable objectives are set, and the metrics flow from those decisions. For example, if the goal is to expand your social footprint, the measureable objective would be to grow the number of blog subscribers, influential fans or followers by x% each month. Engagement metrics are of most importance to social strategists. But metrics for the C-suite must relate to the company’s business plan.

PR News: What's one key tip you'll give to our audience at PR News' Digital Conference?

Sinclair Savell: Because of the large volume of social media conversations, people frequently want to provide quantitative metrics only, without looking behind the numbers to determine trends, successes and missed opportunities. They create beautiful spreadsheets that show month-over-month or quarter-over-quarter changes, along with charts to visually demonstrate the data. But data does not equal intelligence. Analyzing the data brings actionable insights and recommendations that can be used to revise future strategy.

Attend PR News’ Digital Summit on October 5 in New York City to learn more from digital leaders like Margot Sinclair Savell.