Why, Oh Why Do We Measure?










My four-year-old niece has recently reached the point in her life where she wants to know, “Why?” “Why is the sky blue?” “Why is grass green?” and other deeply metaphysical and scientific questions, to which my response is always to check Google.

But there are stark comparisons to my niece’s inquisitive nature and the practice of PR measurement, which is something I deal with every day as Director of Analytics and Measurement for Kaplow. Superior PR measurement programs address the “what” resulting from the strategy, in addition to delivering the “why.” Measurement crafts a story that links the PR output to the business outcomes. Insights script a tale about the cause of your sales increase, expanding brand awareness, or improved reputation as a result of strategic PR.

The “what” part is rather easy. PR practitioners have historically reported rudimentary metrics such as impressions, circulation, page views, sales, and numerous other figures that are counted, tracked, filed, and pasted into PowerPoint decks and client summary reports. But all too often clients look at the pile of numbers in front of them, scratch their heads and, like my niece, ask, “Why?” “Why did our sales go up?” “What motivated the change in conversation around our product?”

Unraveling the “why” behind the PR numbers is harder. Measuring the effectiveness of PR efforts, whether tactical or strategic, is more art than science. The raw data is often unstructured and non-numeric, such as when we examine brand conversations occurring in social media or try to place a dollar value on Facebook page Likes.

To better tell the “why” story, I suggest applying some additional measurement and analysis techniques that will enrich your insights:

  • Text Analytics: Pouring all of those social media conversations into text analytics software will uncover the key drivers of brand discussions and uncover the key words consumers use to talk about brands and why they buy them.
  • Key Driver Analysis: If you’ve stockpiled enough historical data about your client’s media impressions and the like, then you can use SAS or SPSS to see what’s mostly driving sales or other business outcomes and effectively showcase PR ROI.
  • Surveys: Going directly to key consumers for their feedback can confirm or deny whether PR made a difference in changing brand perception or growing market share.

Clients are increasingly looking to their PR firms to address the “why” behind PR metrics in order to collaborate more strategically on future business goals, marketing/advertising budgets, and PR campaigns. Just like my niece on her nonstop quest to learn and improve– the client is right to do so!

(image courtesy of www.simonmainwaring.com)

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