This is Part 1 of The Single Answer to 10,000 Measurement Questions: Measure Your Business Impact. There will be three more posts in this series. Links to each will be here after they are posted:
- Part 1: Using Measurement to Link PR and Business Goals (13 questions)
- Part 2: Social Media (11 questions)
- Part 3: How to Do Measurement With Limited Resources (6 questions)
- Part 4: Measurement Nuts and Bolts (15 questions)
by Katie Delahaye Paine
People are always asking me measurement questions: “How do I do this?” “What’s the best way to do that?” Recently, thanks to a speaking engagement at the PR News Measurement Conference, I have come to realize that almost all of these many questions have the same answer.
Prior to the conference, the organizers asked my fellow panelists and I a large number of specific measurement questions to ensure that our comments would be relevant to the audience. As I was working through them, I realized that almost all the questions had some version of the same answer: “Measure your business impact.”
And so I realized that when people ask me how to measure ROI—or how to measure on a limited budget, or how to link PR to business goals—they all are really asking different versions of the same question: “How do I measure what really matters?”
What really matters—and the one answer to most measurement questions—is: “Measure your business impact.”
Below are specific questions and answers (most of them thanks to PR News). For convenience sake they are divided here into four general categories, and are presented in four separate blog posts:
Part 1: Using Measurement to Link PR and Business Goals (13 questions)
Part 2: Social Media (11 questions)
Part 3: How to Do Measurement With Limited Resources (6 questions)
Part 4: Measurement Nuts and Bolts (15 questions)
Part 1: Using Measurement to Link PR and Business Goals
Q: How important is alignment between PR goals and business goals to the overall success of corporate communications/public relations?
A: There is nothing else that is more important.
Q: What are the more universally used measures that link PR efforts to business objectives? It seems everyone does something different.
A: That’s because there isn’t a universal goal. Metrics must be based on the goals of your organization, so there is no single metric. The best metric is the one that most closely relates to your goals.
Q: What is the importance of primary research in assessing ROI of communication efforts?
A: It is critical. You absolutely need to do good solid research on the actual impact you are having on the business if you are going to calculate ROI.
Q: Specifically, what is the universal methodology used to calculate earned media value? At last year's Barcelona conference, it was stated that Ad Value Equivalency was officially dead and gone. So, what do we do now? For example, if one page inTIME costs X amount of dollars for a paid placement, then what is the value of the same amount of real estate containing an earned story resulting from a great pitch?
A: There is no universal methodology. AVE’s have now been rejected by all leading organizations and most reputable agencies. You should be measuring based on business outcomes, not made up metrics.
Q: Clients increasingly want to know, “What percentage of my sales can I hold PR responsible for delivering on an annual basis?” This is not what PR historically was measured on - but it's a new day! What do you recommend agencies advise clients (usually in the sales & marketing department) on when it comes to PR measurement. How much needs to come on the tracking side from them, versus what's expected from the agency? What are some examples that other agencies use?
A: No one program or effort is responsible for a sale. Sales is impacted by availability, price, the sales person, etc. PR gets people to the point of consideration, gets them to a website, or builds relationships. You should measure PR based on what it is designed to accomplish.
Q: What are ways to measure awards, public affairs, speaking engagements, and corporate social responsibility efforts and be able to tie those into all the other efforts a public relations team manages (such as media relations, social media, and the About section of a company's website)?
A: First you’ve got to look at the overall goals of your programs.
- If your programs are designed to generate leads, then you should look at increase in number of qualified leads, and perhaps the cost of leads.
- If your goal is message communication, then you should look at message penetration and message integrity in various outlets over time.
Secondly, you need to divide your efforts into “controlled” vs. “earned.”
- Your About section, speaking engagements, and CSR programs are all things you can control.
- Media relations and social media are areas that you can’t control and should be measured by different metrics.
Q: How can we shift expectation of corporate leaders to recognize that qualitative measurement trumps quantitative measurement?
A: Corporate leaders appreciate business results. Tie those qualitative measures back to actual business impact. For example, improved relationships reduce legal costs and increase efficiencies.
Q: How do you quantitatively link PR to business goals?
A: Use statistical analysis, correlations, and regressions.
Q: I've seen many different ways to measure media relations success, such as impact scores, volume, impressions, ad value, tonality, etc. Which metrics do you consider best practices when reporting to the executive/board level, and why?
A: First of all, we never recommend using ad value under any circumstances. Secondly, the right metric depends on your goals and the desired business impact. Seldom do companies fund PR programs simply to “reach eyeballs.” Generally the goal is to increase awareness, preference, trial or purchase, or to change perceptions. The ideal metric depends on the goal.
Q: Can you put a monetary value on media coverage? If so, how?
A: Yes, but only if you can do ANOVA or A/B testing of customer response to a media outreach effort.
Q: How can we validate our PR efforts to the company as a whole?
A: Tie them back to actual business improvements such as greater efficiency in getting your messages out, or shortened sales cycles, or improved customer relationships, or lower customer turnover.
Q: What are we supposed to measure in today's environment and how do we sell that to the various constituencies?
A: In today’s environment, you are supposed to measure outcomes – the real impact your programs are having on the business. You “sell” that by integrating your media measurement with web analytics, business intelligence, and awareness/preference research.
Q: What are the most realistic tactics to measure traditional (non-social media) PR? What are the most realistic tactics to measure social media PR?
A: For any type of media, you should be measuring your share of desirable coverage vs. the competition, as well as the message content of your traditional PR over time.
Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine is a dynamic and experienced speaker on public relations and social media measurement. Click here for the schedule of Katie’s upcoming speaking engagements.