Measurement is Sexy. Really.

There you are, reporting to your CEO on the outcome of a recent PR campaign you spearheaded. Your excitement is contagious as the CEO wants to know more about the positive tone, product awareness and visual dimensions, more about your company’s share of voice and the way you were able to tie sales to the efforts. He asks you what the ad equivalency would be for this PR campaign and you explain, patiently, that AVEs are not how we measure anymore; that’s for amateurs. You refer a few times to the Barcelona Principles, but you had him at “awareness.”

Measurement is the new black. Those who measure their PR understand the profound impact the activity can have on a company’s brand and bottom line. Measurement experts go far in their career because they have gained a keener understanding of their activities by tracking what’s important and by dispensing of activities that bear either no fruit or rotten fruit. One of the best indicators of an organization’s support of the PR department is its investment in measurement and its willingness to listen to the results (however tough they may be) and heed PR’s counsel.

What used to be cordoned off as the geeky discipline within PR, measurement and research is now integrated into everything communicators do. Or it should be. Whether it’s measuring the impact of a tweet or analyzing the performance of a year-long community relations effort, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

In a recent PR News/CARMA survey, roughly 10 percent of respondents admitted they don’t typically set objectives for some campaigns and don’t measure social media, and nearly 64% still use clip counts more than other metrics. And surprisingly, 32% said the primary reason they measure is because their boss or senior management requires it. Until we get the 32% of PR pros to measure because they want to be better at PR and until we get 100% of communicators setting real objectives, then we are not done with evangelizing the power of measurement.

– Diane Schwartz


PS: At PR News, we are bringing hundreds of communicators to the National Press Club on May 15 for our annual PR Measurement Conference. We’ll share measurement tips, tactics, war stories and advice. Hope you can join us for this “sexy” event.  I hope you’ll join us. Email me your hot-button measurement questions to pose to the speakers at




  • Angela Jeffrey

    Diane – great post! Love the simple truth that measurement IS, truly, exciting and very trendy. Looking forward to speaking about it at the PRNews Conference in May. Well done!

  • Raeann Kraft

    I agree measurement is important. In order for a campaign to be successful it must prove effective throughout. If you do not measure your results task by task, you have no room for mistakes when deadline hits. When you take a comprehensive approach, it’s formula for success. Even if the campaign turns out not to be as successful as one had hoped, you still have identified the components of success and those of failure.

    The measurement of social media is huge. At an age when data is so abundant, we are able to analyze our audience better. Social sites, such as Facebook, have recognized this and taken the initiative to assist its publics by offering measurement tools.

  • Nicole Moreo

    I am so glad that measurement is finally getting the attention it deserves! It is nice to see that people are finally moving beyond the basic and the “useless” metrics. Here at Peppercomm we have always worked to only measure what is important to success and what can be tied back to a company’s goals. My only worry- now that measurement is becoming “sexy” are we going to go into measurement overload? Not everything can, or should be measured- and with the sheer volume of data that social media brings to the table… how much is too much?

  • Richard L. Brandt

    It amazes me that so few executives get this. And I have a question. What do you do if the ‘quality measurement’ is negative? Learn and alter the PR strategy?

    Of course, many companies don’t get as far as measuring quality, but react immediately.

    I wrote an article for one online publication which had assured me up front that it had strong editorial integrity. My article was accurate and mildly negative about an advertiser, the company that had pitched me the article in the first place.

    Instead of analyzing the pitch they had given me and its positive or negative impact, the company immediately called the president of the publishing company and complained (to put it mildly). The publication took down the article, replaced it with a puff piece, and a few weeks later decided it didn’t want me writing articles for it any more.

    There’s no way to measure the impact of the original article, thus missing out on some valuable information about its approach to PR.

    Neither can it measure the impact of pulling the article and essentially buying a new article by threatening to pull advertising. I don’t know if that strategy was positive for the company. What do you think?

    But I can guarantee that, long term, it will be negative for the publisher. The industry it covers now knows that all anyone needs to do to get positive press is to advertise and pretend it’s a valuable article.

    I thought this kind of thinking ended a long time ago. I guess I’m naive.

  • Steve

    Some very pertinent points made here.

    As a firm that helps companies fill PR jobs, we regularly receive post-interview feedback from the hiring company saying that the candidate just simply couldn’t put figures on any of their achievements.

    In today’s environment with so much PR work being done online, metrics are easier to obtain and work by. Companies can now see who is opening or forwarding what emails etc., who is looking at which blog-post and this gives data which is so much closer to the old style ‘we had an article in x, y and z magazines and sales went up by 10% the following week.’

    Becoming too obsessive about data and metrics and essentially putting them ahead of the actual goal of any campaign is daft, yet there really is no excuse for businesses for not utilising the data that is so easy to obtain these days.