If You’re Not Measuring, Then You’re Not in PR


If that new car you’re shopping for doesn’t have the latest bells and whistles, it’s likely you’ll opt for the one that sports the coolest technology and whose dashboard displays practically everything except your blood pressure and daily calorie consumption. When it comes to PR measurement, however, your dashboard should be quite the opposite. It should focus on key metrics (think speed, gas consumption, temperature on your car). If you’re measuring every activity because you think more is more and that everything is important, then it’s time to switch lanes. As Margot Savell of Hill + Knowlton reminded our attendees last week at the annual PR News Measurement Conference, “too many priorities means no priorities.”

We’ve been hosting a measurement conference for more than a decade and there’s been a lot of industry progress since our first event. For one, a good number of communicators are now using PR dashboards, and even more are taking an integrated approach to measurement, looking across platforms, activities and even disciplines (Marketing, IR, Human Resources).  The PR News Hall of Fame is a testament to this progress, with three industry luminaries among this year’s class: Hill+ Knowlton’s Savell, Barry Leggetter, CEO of AMEC and co-founder of the Barcelona Principles, and Eileen Sheil of Cleveland Clinic.

Another sign of progress: the Measurement conference speakers were able to share cartoons about measurement and the audience not only laughed but they got the joke.  Measurement is hard work but it’s the work of smart PR practitioners and communications leaders.

As you embark on a week of heavy measuring (right?), you might need a pep talk. So I’ve culled these morsels of wisdom from our conference speakers to get your engine running:

  • The three ways to measure brand impact are Awareness (mentions), Mindshare (share of voice and amplification) and Reputation (sentiment)
  • Stop talking about data and start speaking about impact.
  • It takes about 20 touches to make a sale – even selling your PR message.
  • Some social media channels are important and others are KTLO – Keep the Lights On (but don’t use them much).
  • If it’s fast, cheap and easy to get, expect it to be just as fast and easy to forget.
  • Reporters’ #1 metric is inbound traffic, so share and retweet their content.
  • Isolate your crisis/big event from other initiatives so it doesn’t impact your benchmarks.
  • What’s better: 1,000 views, 100 likes, 10 comments or 1 lead? The answer: 1 lead.
  • To get on a reporter’s good side on Twitter, add him/her to your Amazing Writers list on Twitter (if you don’t have lists, now’s the time).
  • Move from outputs to outcomes.
  • Focus on media coverage that moves the needle, not coverage volume.
  • Nearly 90% of companies expect to compete on the basis of customer experience, so if it were magic, what would your customers’ experience look like?
  • If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough (that’s from Einstein, who was at the event in spirit only).

— Diane Schwartz

Meet me on Twitter @dianeschwartz

Special thanks to these industry friends and PR News Measurement conference speakers for sharing their ideas and making measurement, um, kind of fun:

Johna Burke @gojohnab

Evan Carroll @evancarroll

Serena Ehrlich @serena

Paul Englert

Margo Savell @margotsavell

Jovan Hackley @JovanH

Catherine Hernandez-Blades @Aflac

Audrey Huan @DrAudreyHuang

Erik Huddleston @TrendKite

Mike Knox @lexisnexis

Sarab Kochhar @Sarabkochhar

Saul Leal

Barry Leggetter @BarryLeggetter

Katie Paine @queenofmetrics

David Peikin @KavidPeikin

David Rockland @ketchumPR

Eileen Sheil @EMSheil

Kathleen Smith @DeptofDefense

Cindy Villafranca @CinDLew