PR pros: What to take away from the 3rd annual measurement summit

The European summit shines a light on the distinction between measuring social media efforts and just monitoring them.

The measurement cognoscenti have taken for granted that the development of measurement standards for public relations and social media is a good thing.

But what about your typical, not-a-measurement-geek PR professional? The person who does PR all day and measurement when it makes sense? What, if anything, does the third European summit on measurement just held in Lisbon have to do with them?

Glad you asked.

1. If you’ve never measured your PR or social media efforts before, this is the perfect time to start.

The Lisbon Priorities , and the expanded Valid Metrics for PR Measurement , provide a practical guide to set up your measurement plan. Figure out what your measurable objectives are. (If you don’t know how, start here .) Once you’ve got consensus among you, your boss, and your boss’s boss (or, if you’re at an agency, your client and your client’s boss), you can establish appropriate metrics and a measurement system based on them.

2. If you’ve been monitoring but not measuring, it’s the perfect time to move to the next level.

The Lisbon Priorities recommend that measurement—rather than monitoring—become an intrinsic part of the PR toolkit. And there is a big difference. If you’re monitoring, then your results will enable you to tell your boss, “We made it into the NY Times.” But if you’re measuring, then your results will allow you say, “The NY Times article happened because of your tweet and also the media training you forced the CEO to go through. And odds are we’ll get another article if we do X, Y and Z.”

An easy way to move beyond just monitoring is to step back and look at your program and ask “so what?” several times:

  • So what if you got all those hits?
  • So what if you reached all those potential “eyeballs?”
  • So what if those “eyeballs” had a million opportunities to see your messages?
  • So what if your positives went up and your negatives went down?

Then set up a system that doesn’t just monitor, but also tracks and evaluates your progress against business objectives. Put it all into a spreadsheet, and start analyzing the results to figure out what is or isn’t working to achieve your goals.

3. If you’ve only ever used AVEs for measurement, it is easier than ever to graduate to truly effective techniques.

Dropping the AVEs is a good thing. Really. Now you can start from scratch, throw out all those old, questionable numbers, and figure out what you should have been measuring all along. Again, evaluate your work in terms of what business objectives it has helped achieve.

4. Now is your chance to educate your client and/or boss on what is ethical and effective measurement.

Let’s be honest, most of us would like to see our bosses or clients become better educated on what we do for them. And the Lisbon Priorities recommend that clients be educated so that they will know to insist on measurement of business results.

For instance, when your boss says, “I hired you to get me The New York Times,” you start asking, “So what?” (See No. 2 above.) So what if you’re in The Times? If you’re lucky they run one story a year on your marketplace. So what are you going to do the rest of the time? (OK, so in this instance you might have to use some of that tact and persuasion that PR people are known for.)

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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