Measurement is a hot topic in the public relations industry.
Often, it can be hard to see if a message has been truly disseminated, absorbed or actioned. However, there are steps you can take to improve your measurement process..
Organizations such as Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) all have different methodologies, guides and ideas for measurement.
Here are seven tips to consider:
1. Ensure your measurement process suits what you do.
Every client is different. Every agency is different. Everyone’s measurement process is going to differ slightly, too.
You must find a process that fits your communications activities, clients and outcomes. A great place to start is the AMEC framework, which will ensure that you have a consistent approach to measurement allowing you to plan and measure in an appropriate manner.
Check out its interactive tool here.
2. Quantity will not make up for quality.
In setting communications objectives, you need to determine what success looks like to you. Consider your target audience, key messages and target outlets and ensure that all activity is focused there, rather than taking a shotgun approach and sending your media release to every contact on your list.
Consider this in your evaluation process, too, and look at where you added value or made an impact rather than how much work you did.
3. Communications objectives must align with business objectives.
If communications activity isn’t contributing in some way to overall business goals, why are you doing it? Whether it’s to drive more people to your website to help increase sales, to position you or your client as a thought leader to win more business or showcasing a new widget, your efforts must help the bottom line.
This is the firm belief of Alex Aiken, executive director for government communications, who spoke at a recent PR Moment analytics seminar. He explained that starting with objectives that are closely tied to your business plan will ensure you are communicating effectively and subsequently evaluating what actually matters.
4. You can’t measure everything—and you shouldn’t.
What metrics matter to your business? What are your target publications? What audience are you trying to reach? Develop a set of key performance indicators that matter to you or your client and center evaluation and measurement activity around them.
5. Look at what hasn’t worked.
Not everything will have gone to plan or been as big a success as predicted. Looking at where you have been least successful—and investigating why—is perhaps the most valuable part of the evaluation process as you can ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes again.
6. All measurement should have an action attached to it.
Whether successful or not, determining your next steps from your evaluation plan is essential.
Has your activity been a success and can it be a model for future work? Perhaps you didn’t get the coverage you wanted and need to determine new ways of reaching your audience. Whatever the results of your evaluation process, you should take away a set of actions to help you improve and succeed.
7. Don’t just count things; measure what matters.
With a whole host of data now at our fingertips, it’s easy to gather and count—but just counting pieces of coverage, new social media followers or attendees at an event doesn’t tell you what the impact of your work is. Instead, think of the outcomes. AMEC defines outcomes as “the effects that your communication had on your target audiences that align to your objectives.”
Arianne Williams is an account manager at Exeter-based communications agency, KOR Communications. A version of this article originally appeared on the KOR Communications blog.