Legendary business management expert, Peter Ducker, is credited with the phrase, “What gets measured improves.” This notion gave rise to the practice of Six Sigma and other business process methodologies. While the idea was initially applied to manufacturing processes, it is equally relevant for public relations teams.
Legacy Measurement: Activities and Artifacts
Traditional PR reporting involves tracking the activities of the PR team or agency and enumerating the resulting artifacts. These types of reports contain the number pitches, press releases, interviews and mentions. These days they may also include the number of owned assets, such as blogs, social posts, and ebooks created. This type of reporting is great for proving that your PR team is busy. If you use this approach to measuring success, you can be quite certain that you will have a very busy PR team. They will, after all, improve on what you measure. If your goal is a hive of busy bees, rock on with this type of measurement. It will serve you well.
Modern Measurement: Outcomes
We doubt that your most important PR goals involve activity for the sake of activity. You are more likely doing PR for a reason. You don’t craft a press release so that you can say you did. You do it to attract the attention of a media contact who will mention your brand favorably and hopefully influence a potential buyer, employee or investor to take some action. What you’re after is increased web traffic, leads, conversions, revenue, job applications, etc. Your success at impacting those metrics is what should be on the PR report. That’s what will get the attention of executive teams and clients. That’s what you want your team to improve.
Before the internet age and the rise of big data, it was admittedly difficult to tie PR work to outcomes. That’s why we used activity reporting and silly, meaningless calculations like Advertising Value Equivalency. Fortunately, this no longer needs to be the case. Today’s PR monitoring and measurement software makes it possible to directly link PR work to pressing business goals.
We started this blog with a quote, so we’ll leave you with one too. Grace Hopper, one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer in 1944, and the inventor the first compiler for a computer programming language, said, “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.” In 2016, don’t opine on the success of your PR efforts. Prove them with data-driven, outcome based measurement and reporting.