Albert Einstein is often credited with saying, “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” While we certainly believe that measurement and analytics are the life blood of any modern PR or marketing program, we agree with Einstein’s assessment that the fact that you can measure something doesn’t mean you should.
So much information is available to PR pros and marketers today that it is easy to become overwhelmed by data and lose sight of the simple fact that all we are really looking for is knowledge that will drive better decisions. We all have limited time and resources, so we thought it might help to filter out those measurements that are likely a waste of your time so that you can focus on what’s really important. Here are three things you (probably) shouldn't waste your time measuring:
- What You Can't Control – We’d all like to be able to tie every dollar of PR spend to its impact on revenue, but can you realistically tie your PR efforts to the buyer’s journey or the sales funnel? For most organizations, this is the goal but not today’s reality. If this is the case for you, don’t worry about measuring lead conversions and sales. Instead, focus on the things that you can impact directly. While it is always important to look for ways to prove the relevance of earned media at every stage of the funnel, this analysis shouldn’t be prioritized over the things you can control.
- What You Don't Intend to Act On – This is all about focus. We are constantly distracted by data, which can be a good thing if you happen to have access to IBM’s Watson, but the rest of us should question whether we will REALLY do anything with the information provided by a measurement. If the answer is “probably not,” don’t bother. Be honest.
- Things that Don't Have Value – I think there are some things that PR pros have been conditioned to measure because the math is easy. Passive impressions and advertising value equivalence fall into this bucket. It’s not hard to get a handle on these numbers, but so what? They provide very little insight into the effectiveness of your campaigns and divert attention from the metrics that truly do matter.
We don’t claim that abandoning these particular measurements will lead to the Holy Grail of dashboards or client reports. There are always going to be ad-hoc questions or requests that come from the CEO, or your client that you will need to be able to answer (and you better have a tool that lets you do that). However, if you're drowning in data, this will help you provide some focus as to what you can eliminate that's not helping. Of course every brand, industry and client is different so your mileage may vary, but by and large you can use these as filters to figure out the things that aren't important to you.
We’ll leave you with one more quote about counting things, “That which gets measured improves.” Think about the things you want to and can improve, then measure the heck out of those. Everything else is just noise.