How do your efforts measure up on KBI: the Kick Butt Index?

For PR and social media specialists, a malleable metric of success.

Forget engagement, affection, influence, and any other social media or mainstream media scores you’re debating. What we really need for a public relations measurement metric is a Kick Butt Index (KBI).

That idea grew out of a conversation I had with a former client who described his measurement needs as follows:

“I want something so that when the business development guy or the product manager storms into my office and says, “Lockheed just kicked our butt on this one!” I’ll have an answer.”

What does ‘kicked our butt’ really mean?

The crux of his problem—and similar problems for many in PR—is that no one stops the boss and gets him/her to agree up front what “kicked our butt” means. How do you/they really define success? Does it mean more front-page headlines or better message communication? More fans on Facebook, or more retweets?

Just about every organization I deal with has different PR/social media programs, with varying goals and audiences. And within every company, there are probably seven definitions of what “kicking butt” means, depending on if you are in sales, marketing, finance or PR.

Kicking media butt

If your definition of “kicking butt” means more coverage than the other guy, then you need to define what that coverage should look like. Are key messages most important? Headlines? Positive sentiment? What?

At KDPaine & Partners, we have been using our own version of the KBI—we call it the Optimal Content Score (OCS). Our OCS is just one definition of “Kick Butt,” based on media coverage. What works for you might be based on Web analytics, relationship scores or other measures.

The OCS gauges the success of articles based on what the client considers to be the ideal article. To implement OCS for any client, we define an ideal article based on their coverage goals. For instance, an ideal article for Client X might be one that:

  • Contains several key messages,
  • Leaves a reader more likely to purchase,
  • Mentions the brand in the headline, and
  • Appears in The Wall Street Journal.

If an article includes all these attributes, we give it the maximum score, 10 out of 10. To determine the score for any given article, points are deducted from the maximum based on how far an article is from ideal, taking points off, for instance, for negative positioning and minor mentions.

Develop your own Kick Butt Index

To develop your own KBI for media (traditional or otherwise), decide what a perfect 10 mention looks like for your program. Then determine what your worst nightmare mention looks like. Of course, most bloggers and journalists rarely deliver either your ultimate fantasy or worst nightmare, so what does a solid “average” mention look like?

Maybe mentions don’t matter at all. Maybe “kicking butt” really means “more unique visits,” or some other metric. That’s up to you.

In the process of figuring this out, most organizations list one or more of the following:

  • The desired outcomes of a program, department, launch or whatever it is that you are promoting.
  • Their key messages, ranked by importance.
  • Their strategic initiatives ranked by importance.
  • Their most influential media sources.
  • Their key target stakeholders.
  • The key competitors.

Not only does this process get you a clear, agreed-upon definition of “kicking butt,” but it sets you well on the way toward a perfect measurement system. By getting everyone to agree on a standard definition of success, you can more easily judge your performance in the marketplace, relative to your competition.

Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, and publisher of The Measurement Standard newsletter, in which this article first appeared.

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