This is a guest post by Chuck Hemann.
What do you think when you hear the word “measurement?” What about “evaluation?” If you are planning to roll your eyes or let out a heavy sigh don’t. While measurement and evaluation are concepts that don’t always come naturally to public relations professionals, knowing how to talk about them (and ultimately implement them) is critical to your success.
So if measurement and evaluation are so critical, why aren’t more plans building in measurement and evaluation programs? My feeling is that we haven’t seen more widespread adoption because we have not spent time educating account executives on how to do it. When they do hear about measurement, it’s usually advertising value equivalencies (AVE) and impressions.
So, how can we help make it more approachable? Here are four tips to help you get started down the road to better measurement:
1. Take considerable time setting MEASURABLE goals and objectives. It’s amazing to me how many companies jump into a program without ever considering what they are planning to accomplish by spending the money. Ask your clients what they want to get out of the efforts. If the answer is “We want to improve our communications,” help them narrow that down to something measurable like “We want to raise the visibility of XYZ widget.”
2. Don’t be afraid to evaluate the qualitative. When we hear measurement or evaluation our minds typically turn to numbers and advanced statistical formulas. While excluding quantitative metrics would be a mistake, including qualitative performance metrics in your analysis can really help show your client the ROI.
3. Consider using an outside vendor for support. There are a number of vendors that can help you evaluate performance. You might already be using one of them as a clipping service. They are invaluable assets to you as they live the measurement and evaluation game and know what works and what doesn’t.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY…
4. DO NOT RELY ON AVE AND IMPRESSIONS EXCLUSIVELY. My apologies for the capital letters, but I can’t stress this point enough. Take it from me, advertising value equivalencies do not work and are not effective. If your clients want to use them, ask them to check out the Institute for PR library. The only way I would recommend using impressions to a client is if it was part of a much larger measurement program.
So, you see there’s a lot more to measurement than meets the eye. If you use these four things when talking to clients, I bet you’ll feel more comfortable talking about measurement and they will appreciate that you brought it up.
What have you found helpful to create more measurable PR efforts? Please share your tips with the rest of us in the comments.
Chuck Hemann is the research manager for Dix & Eaton, a communications consulting firm, where he helps lead measurement and competitive intelligence for the agency’s clients. You can connect with Chuck on Twitter and at his blog on PR measurement. The views in this post belong to Chuck Hemann and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of his employer.