Measurement experts: Solid metrics and trust go hand in hand

Learn what matters in the ‘new normal’ and why frequent pulse surveys are key. You can’t succeed without engaged employees, so ‘test, test, and test some more.’

PR measurement that matters

In times of unease, trust is a premium commodity.

“The new normal requires trust,” Katie Delahaye Paine says. “The key to the ‘next normal’ is measurement, as usual.”

At PR Daily’s Media Relations & Measurement Virtual Conference on May 14, Paine, founder and CEO of Paine Publishing, offered her observations on metrics—what has changed and what remains constant—in a tandem presentation with Johna Burke, global managing director of AMEC. Burke noted that the Barcelona Principles 3.0 will launch in July.

In Paine’s opening section of “Measuring the ‘New Normal’: Integrating PESO and the Barcelona Principles,” she emphasizes the importance of measuring stakeholder sentiment, both internally and externally.

“If you don’t have data at hand, you’re really in trouble,” she warns, adding an admonition to take a big-picture view, lest you miss key details.

“Stop counting things as though everybody lives in a silo,” she says. “You’ve got to look at things in terms of your overall corporate priorities.”

What’s chief among those priorities? People.

You can’t succeed without engaged employees, she says, so you must find out: How are they really feeling?

Pulse surveys are a crucial element. “Test, test, and test some more,” she advises.

Don’t be afraid of bad news

Paine warns: Beware of FOFO—fear of finding out. That applies to taking the temperature of all your stakeholders, especially when it comes to your outreach and pivotal trust elements.

You must ask: Are they sick of your messaging? Are customers still loyal?

“Are they believing your messages?” Paine says. “That is, are they echoing your messages?”

Paine says regular pulse surveys—with agree/disagree statements regarding trust—can demonstrate consumers’ faith in your organization.

“Do they still feel safe doing business with you?” she asks. “Safety and trust and empathy play a huge role in that, so that has to be tested as well.”

With regard to measuring content, she equates sharing with trust.

The PESO model (paid, earned, shared and owned media) is driving measurement differently these days. Older metrics dashboards keyed on digital, social media, email and the like, she says.

Now the emphasis should be a priorities dashboard, in which an organization’s top three or so priorities are measured in terms of consumer touch points, engagement and the quality of that engagement.

Look for the silver lining

In times of crisis, gauge not just any damage suffered, but also the extent of the crisis that was averted: How bad could it have been? she says.

Also: “Measure the outcome, not the media,” she advises. That is, maybe the news coverage was bad or the online buzz was negative, but you sold 30% more widgets amid that turmoil.

As for how to benchmark these days, Paine says, “This is a different time; you need different tools.” She cited these in particular:

  • Excel and pivot tables. These summarize data within a more extensive table to help you analyze data.
  • Google Surveys. Find out how people are feeling.
  • Google Analytics. A crucial statistics source.
  • Search engines. Use SEO rank as a PR tool.

Impressions, vanity metrics—and the stuff you should measure

In her segment, Burke notes that the Barcelona Principles 2.0, updated in 2015, offer “best practices and a starting point for communicators.”

She strongly advises measuring outcomes rather than outputs. To wit, “We like to say that one million impressions do not mean one million people were impressed.”

In addition, Burke says, communications teams should consistently measure social media efforts against those conducted through traditional media channels.

She derides vanity metrics, saying the term is arcane in many parts of the world, to the point that it’s sometimes difficult to translate or explain.

Beyond that, Burke says, “Vanity metrics can be substantially affected by bots, data and artificial intelligence,” so their value is effectively nil.

She offers a key takeaway for gathering, analyzing and rendering statistics and metrics on behalf of your stakeholders.

“Make sure there are insights on every value and every report,” Burke says. “Anything that isn’t substantive and meaningful to your business probably shouldn’t be in the insights that you’re putting forward.”

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