A PR quandary: Measuring is key, but how exactly?

In a bottom-line world, pros differ on how best to gauge their efficacy.

In a bottom-line world, pros differ on how best to gauge their efficacy

With budget cuts still looming across the corporate world, measurement is the word on every communicator’s lips.

Favorable return-on-investment statistics and a way to link a large Twitter following to the bottom line are key to keeping the communications department off the company chopping block. But not surprisingly, there’s no consensus on which method is best.

A recent study of PR professionals worldwide found that 77 percent measure their work, up from 69 percent five years ago. A high percentage, certainly, but the 520 respondents to the survey didn’t agree on how to measure PR effectively.

The top five tools reported were clippings—the majority at 17 percent—followed by internal reviews, advertising value equivalency (AVE), benchmarking, and media evaluation tools at 9 percent to10 percent each.

Clippings, AVE and the like aren’t effective, says Katie Paine, a longtime expert in PR measurement. Such gauges matter only if they tie communications to the bottom line or to organizational goals.

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