3 metrics mistakes PR pros make in the boardroom

Proving the value of your PR programs is challenging. Here are three common blunders to avoid when presenting your results to top executives.

Senior executives are your toughest audience. Their time is limited—and so is your career if you don’t cut to the chase when presenting results.

It can be daunting. You have a lot of data to share, and this could be your only chance to sell your boss or manager on your value. Here are three mistakes to avoid the next time you’re called to the boardroom:

1. Rushing in. “Clean up data before rushing into a meeting,” says “Measure What Matters” author Katie Paine. “You could be extremely embarrassed if you have to pull your data right before the meeting and you haven’t double-checked it.”

Mistakes are more likely to happen if you automate everything, she adds. “Don’t rely on your dashboard,” Paine says. “Make sure your system hasn’t pulled any extraneous or irrelevant data.”

A social media dashboard, for example, could pull “subway” results without distinguishing between posts referencing underground railways and those referencing Subway sandwich shops.

A social media dashboard might similarly fail to distinguish between “BMS” for Bristol-Myers Squibb or “BMS” for “by myself” or “boy menstrual syndrome.”

“A lot of teenagers use ‘BMS’ as an acronym on social media, and they’re definitely not referencing the pharmaceutical company,” Paine says.

Register for PR Daily’s Sept. 22 webinar ” The Best Social Media Metrics: Show ROI with New KPIs and Dashboards ” to improve social media results and earn bigger budgets.

2. Saving the worst for last. “ Don’t run away from areas that need improvement when presenting results to management,” Paine says.

She recommends presenting negative results first.

“Order results from worst to best,” she says. “For example, just start with the worst-performing campaign if you’re presenting an engagement index for five campaigns.”

Paine says VPs are tired of hearing all the “good news” social media reports. “They tell me it sounds made up,” she explains, “so start with what needs to be fixed and tell them how it can be done better next time.”

3. Obsessing over ROI. “Execs want to see cost-efficiency, not ROI,” says Paine. “You’ll earn more brownie points if you show improvement and how you’re doing more for less money.”

The British Columbia Provincial Health Services Authority’s “Immunize BC” campaign, for example, recently showed that social media campaigns drove just as many people to get vaccinations as paid media campaigns.

The key difference: “The social media campaigns generated those vaccinations for less money,” Paine says. “That impresses execs more than anything else.”

Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Katie Paine and Southwest Airlines’ Cindy Villafranca will share more tips in PR University’s Sept. 22 webinar, “ The Best Social Media Metrics: Show ROI with New KPIs and Dashboards .”

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