PR measurement is the business communicator’s equivalent to Groundhog Day. PR pros could be forgiven if they feel like they are the living the same day over and over when it comes to trying to demonstrate the value of their activities. That’s not to say PR pros haven’t made any progress regarding metrics; the rise of online analytics has enabled communicators to gauge their digital PR efforts and get a better read on the types of messages that resonate with their audiences.
Nonetheless, there are miles to go, and many CFOs still view PR as a cost center and not a profit center. With that in mind, here are a few ways tips for PR pros to boost their measurement programs and think more strategically about measurement and metrics.
Ø Be more selective. From Google Analytics (which has a free component) to the bevy of paid analytics services available online, there’s no shortage of measurement tools for PR pros to adopt and put to use. But PR execs need discriminate when it comes to analytics or they risk drowning in a sea of a data and throwing bad money after good. Start out incrementally. Liaise more frequently with the head of IT to find out which measurement tools are the most user-friendly and the most appropriate gauge for your PR and content marketing programs.
Ø Lose the vanity metrics. While vanity metrics—including the number of likes and followers to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, respectively—will help keep you cocktail-party-compliant, such metrics have been roundly dismissed as having any real value for PR. Shift your mindset to what the marketplace views as more legitimate marketing metrics, such as whether consumers who initially check out your content move (however circuitously) to the path of purchase or the amount of time consumers spend watching one of your branded videos. If you work for an automotive company, how many people contacted dealers after engaging with your PR your content? If you work for a financial services company how many people contacted a sales rep after engaging with your content? Locate those legitimate business threads and publicize them.
Ø Speak the language. A constant knock on communicators is that when they explain their business activities to the C-suite they fail to speak in language that senior managers can appreciate and instead resort to PR-ese. This does PR pros no favors. Communicators once and for all must stop couching their metrics in terms like “media impressions” and “media hits” and start speaking in “spreadsheet” terms, or how their activities align with the company’s financial goals and objectives. You need to show the C-suite how PR can generate concrete results. Otherwise, you’re just spinning your wheels. Don’t give your CFO another excuse to call PR and marketing execs the “arts and crafts” crowd.