Research Without Insight Is Just Trivia, and Causes Nightmares

PR pros who are serious about measurement are flooded in data. They’re swimming in it. Sometimes they contract with measurement and monitoring companies, which provide them with bucketloads of data. They may also be getting data from in-house marketing analysts. And then there is data from their own surveys and from Google Analytics.

With their backs breaking under the weight of all this data, they’ve got to somehow make sense of it and use it to prove the value of their PR programs and secure their budgets for the next year—as well as secure their own jobs.

This is the stuff PR pros’ nightmares are made of.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can immerse yourself in PR measurement—and be a data freak, even—and still get a good night’s sleep. You just have to learn how to simplify and repeat this mantra: Research with insight is just trivia.

This the mantra Katie Paine kept repeating during PR News’ Dec. 13 measurement workshop in New York. Katie, who is chief marketing officer of News Group and author of Measure What Matters and of PR News’ long-running Image Patrol features, is on a worldwide mission to show PR pros how to create measurement programs that are manageable and effective. As Katie says, the secret to curing yourself of sleepless nights is to find out what’s keeping your senior leaders awake at night. Learn that, and figure out which stakeholder group you want to influence and measure, and you’ve got yourself a measurement program that will help your business prosper—and that’s how you secure your PR budget.

“PR measurement is difficult enough—start simply and be specific about who your stakeholders are and what you want them to do,” Katie said at the workshop. “Your audience is not everybody with a pulse. And ask yourself what is your role in getting them to do what you want them to do.”

Once you’ve cornered the CEO and found out what keeps her or him awake at night, figure out which actions from a particular stakeholder group will allow the veil of sleep to descend on your CEO. Then, start with a stakeholder group that is easily identified—and one that you can measure. (Admonishment from Katie: Just pick one stakeholder group and resist the temptation to think big.)

You do need to make the connection between what you do as a PR person and which action you want that stakeholder group to take, but with these simple, humble beginnings, you’re on your way to becoming a well-rested data geek.

Steve Goldstein

On Twitter: @SGoldsteinAI 

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