PR Measurement Is More Than Just a Report Card

Reporting the data from a communications campaign is more than just writing up a tally of various metrics.

Porter Novelli EVP, Strategic Planning, Analytics and Research Carrie Schum
Carrie Schum, EVP, Strategic Planning, Analytics and Research, Porter Novelli

Too many communicators try to use measurement simply as an end in itself, a gauge of how well a campaign performed after it's over. Rather, analytics should inform every stage of the planning process, says Carrie Schum, executive vice president of strategic planning, analytics and research at Porter Novelli.

PR pros should feel confident in analyzing the data that is most important to their campaign, she says, whether they’re reporting the data externally to a client or internally to senior leaders.

We recently talked with Schum—who will share more about metrics at the Measurement Boot Camp, Nov. 9 in NYC—about how PR pros can translate complicated data into simple terms that prove their effectiveness.

PR News: What is the biggest misconception people have about using analytics to measure their communications strategy? 

Schum: The biggest misconception is that analytics is an end point or a “report card”—a grade of how well you did. It’s far more than that. Analytics is a learning tool that feeds back into a program and helps you do smarter and more focused work.

PR News: Do you think communicators should leave measurement to a third party? Or can any PR pro effectively measure their campaigns?

Schum: I think it’s essential that PR integrate analytics into what we do. We are very different from advertising or sales; you have to understand the nuances of what it takes to do great PR to do great PR measurement. For example, we often get asked, “Did PR lead to more sales?” And the answer is generally “yes”—but on a very different timeline than you’d find from direct mail or advertising. You have to know that that’s how PR works and be ready for that longer timeline, and know where and how to measure the PR contribution to see that.

PR News: How do you translate an analytics report into simple terms for a client? 

Schum: All data tells a story. Make sure you know the story your data tells and organize any presentation that way, rather than simply presenting a series of data points.

PR News: What do you hope attendees at the Measurement Boot Camp will take away from your session on November 9?

Schum: I hope people take away that it’s always possible to measure, and measure well, no matter your timeline or budget. And have confidence that their judgement as good PR people is critical to getting to good PR measurement.

Connect with Carrie: @cateschum

Connect with Samantha: @samantha_c_wood