Measurement: drop the ruler, break out the analysis and then celebrate

Image courtesy DBduo Photography on Flickr​While I know I’m not alone, I do know that I’m among the small percentage of professionals who have only practiced public relations in the digital age. Facebook, Twitter, blogs and online news sites have always been a part of my media mix.

But with so much information out there and different vehicles to carry the message it can be tricky to know which outlets and influencers really carry weight and can make an impact on a brand’s goals.

Get this, legend has it that PR people once measured success in newspaper column inches. Then an impression number was slapped on the media report and everyone celebrated. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? Well, don’t pop the champagne yet. Not until we also measure engagement, reach, relevancy and influence.

Wednesday, Katie Paine, CMO of News Group, spoke to PRSA Richmond to shed light on how the world of measurement has changed, where it’s going and what you need to know when putting together campaigns and programs for clients and organizations. And while it may seem like common sense, she reminded us to measure what matters.

Katie started off by debunking some common myths of social media, including eyeballs aren’t equal to awareness and “likes” don’t equal engagement.

She then went into her six steps to measurement success, which are:

1.      Define your goals. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Why am I doing PR for this?
  • What problem am I trying to solve?
  • What was I hired to do?

2.      Understand your audience and its motivations. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience, find their sweet spots, know what keeps them up at night, identify their pain points and tailor your message to fit their needs.

3.      Create benchmarks. Refer to historic data and past performances and incorporate what is valued within your organization.

4.      Establish metrics. Create a key performance indicator (KPIs – or Kick Butt Index, as Katie likes to say) that is actionable, helps improve your process and is specific to your priorities. Three is the magic number when it comes to KPIs – that’s proven to be the perfect number to track.

5.      Pick a [data collection] tool. Content analysis, surveys and web analytics can help measure messaging, awareness and engagement (respectively), but sometimes, a thought-out combination of the above are needed. Katie recommends two out of three.

6.      Gain insight & take action: Katie said, “research without insight is just trivia,” so next time you pull quantitative data, ask yourself “so what,” and look for a way to qualitative put that data in context and relate it back to your goals and benchmarks. You can collect numbers and data all day, but if you don’t have an answer for the “so what” from your results, do they really mean anything?

7.      Optional: Pop Champagne. That one’s mine. I feel like we all deserve a drink after all this analysis.

Casey Prentice

A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. Her agency work has helped clients like Virginia’s Community Colleges, VCUarts and Swedish Match.

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