Stumped on PR Metrics? Try a ‘Hybrid’ Approach

Season Solorio

“Did this change behavior?” As data becomes integral to public relations, the question may be the new mantra for marketing communications professionals. It’s what the PR team at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association often asks itself when measuring PR outcomes, according to Season Solorio, executive director, issues and reputation management, for the association.

Solorio will be a featured speaker at PR News’ One-Day Boot Camp for Emerging Stars Dec. 11 in Washington, D.C. PR metrics and measurement will be a major focus of the meeting. In the Q&A below, Solorio provides a tease of some her talking points.

PR News: What are the most effective ways right now to show C-suite executives the value of data?

Season Solorio: Speak their language—show your C-suite executives why the data and insight that you have matters to them by linking measurement to both the PR/communications goals, as well as the wider business/organizational goals. In our organization, we frequently ask ourselves, ‘Did this change behavior?’ This may mean that some of the outcomes being measured will need to be longer-term outcomes, rather than short-term results, but linking public relations to results they can understand in the boardroom is priceless.

PR News: With PR pros bombarded by social media metrics how should communicators pick and choose which social dashboards to adopt, use and deploy?

Solorio Start with the basics, such as a clear understanding of your goals, objectives and resources. Questions to think about before you even start talking with companies are: What are you measuring and why? What can you afford, what’s the timeline and scope?

From there, you can weed out some social dashboards and start having strategic conversations with providers about what your needs are vs. just being pitched on dashboards that might look good but simply don’t meet your needs. I’m also strong advocate of using a hybrid approach that is part automated and part human—no automated dashboard can take the place of someone on your team that will need to analyze and provide strategic insight into the dashboard, so make sure that you have the resources and bandwidth for someone in your organization to lead measurement.

PR News: What are some the more subtle indications that your existing measurement strategy may not be working?

Solorio: Everyone needs to start somewhere, so if you don’t have an existing measurement strategy, start building one—you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

If you do have an existing measurement strategy, think about how you can take your measurement to the next level. For example, if you’re only counting media clips, can you improve by adding a qualitative aspect—is the clip positive, does it include a key message, a key messenger and ultimately, is there a way that you can add a question to a survey to ask whether or not that PR is creating awareness, improving reputation/favorability and purchase.

Season Solorio will discuss Measurement and Metrics: The Keys to Managing PR Success at PR News’ One Day Boot Camp for Emerging Stars, which takes place on Dec. 11 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Follow Season: @seasonsgreeting 

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1