It is with great pleasure that I bring you this guest post by one of my personal favorite but also one of PR Industry’s metrics and measurement thought leaders, Katie Paine to share her advice on the “Future of PR Metrics & Measurement.” Please read and ensure you consider moving beyond old school PR metrics (millions of impressions) to new age metrics (Return on Engagement) - Priya Ramesh.
By Katie Delahaye Paine (@kdpaine)
Founder and Chairman, KDPaine & Partners , Berlin, NH
CMO, News Group International , Dubai UAE
Freedom made her sound,
It was a good thing coming down. …
When that wall hit that ground, it was a good thing coming down
It was a good thing when they opened up their hearts
Such a good thing to make a new world start
You know it was a good thing to find the courage to let go
Such a good thing when they found the strength to know.
It took me years to build this wall, a house of cards that had to fall,
When that wall hit the ground, it was good thing coming down. “
From the song “Walls” © 1989, Rick Watson
My friend Rick Watson wrote those lyrics after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but they can just as easily apply today, and not just to the Arab Spring. The future of measurement is in the dissolution of the walls and silos that have plagued our profession for years, and it’s a good thing they’re coming down.
Walls between internal and external communications, digital and traditional, marketing and PR, and qualitative and quantitative metrics are falling daily. In today’s environment, customers get far more information from your customer service employees than they do from any press release. Opinions are formed, not from reading “traditional media” or “social media” but by influencers who are just as likely to write a column in The Huffington Post as they are to Tweet. The corporate “house of cards” that had to fall were the silos that have for years separated PR people from customers, internal communications from external, marketing from PR. This silo-free future will have three key elements:
1. Call it PR, Marketing, Social or Digital, it’s all about the business and the customer
The silos between PR, marketing, customer service and internal communications are irrelevant in an era when the customer is in control. If Walt Mossberg influences your customers, how does it help your program to put up artificial barriers between his “traditional media” presence in the Wall Street Journal and his “social presence” in his blog, or on his Twtter feed?
This is an era when a Tweet can make it around the world before your internal email gets past the first round of approvals. Customers are listening to other customers long before your sales force or your marketing department has a prayer of getting to them. Never mind you’re your customers today have an infinite ability to filter out messages.
The old-fashioned notion of isolating PR metrics from marketing or business results will be a thing of the past. I so look forward to a day when pie charts showing “share of negative, positive and neutral” have been banished from board rooms forever. SO WHAT if the chart is 20% green? It only matters if you spent $100K and that pretty green slice of pie didn’t get any bigger or sell any more products. The only way PR people will measure their results in the future is if they put their results into the context of the business plan. Are you driving traffic, adding people to your marketing universe, shifting perceptions or making it easier to recruit talent? Instead of asking what tool should I be using, future generations of PR people will be asking, what difference did I make to the business. ?
More importantly, the successful PR Pro of the future won’t just look in their press kit for a solution to a problem, they will look at the problem, reach across all those aisles and cubicles and solve it with the assistance of marketing, digital, social and anyone else that can contribute to the solution.
2. What matters is the results, not what you call your metrics
For years, trade media has posed the silly question “what is more important quantitative or qualitative data. Outcomes or outputs?” The reality is that you can’t have one without the other. Successful PR managers in the future will regularly correlate their media outputs with business outcomes. Their reports will similarly combine data and numbers with insight and context.
Future PR pros will no longer be able to hide their collective heads in the sand to avoid numbers and data. Today, between Google Analytics, Facebook Insights and 250 + monitoring and measurement companies in the marketplace, numbers are unavoidable. However, having access to 100 different metrics is not particularly helpful. Knowing the three that will help improve your organizational effectiveness is.
The successful PR pro may be able to run an ANOVA test, but he/she will certainly need to know how to interpret the data and draw conclusions. More importantly future PR pros will need the skills to know the difference between good data and bad data, and what correlates and what doesn’t. They will need to know not just how much, but why. Unless they can compare results with peers, or spot differences in business outcomes between different programs and tactics, their metrics will have no future. PR pros need to be able to look at their metrics and easily identify the best and worst programs so they can then move resources from the ones that aren’t working to the ones that are. Without that context, all the pretty charts and data points are meaningless.
3. Geography will become both irrelevant and indispensable
At the same time traditional geographical borders are becoming less relevant in our social era of “you can take it with you” marketing, the specifics of where you are at the moment you receive a message or send a post becomes increasingly important.
On the one hand, professional communicators need to be more sensitive to cultural and language differences than ever before. But those differences are less and less place-based. If you can take your media with you wherever you are, we must think less about the physical borders and more about cultural ones.
On the other hand, thanks to GPS location based services in our phones, our tablets and our laptops, Social marketers already know where you are and where the best results come from. As a result, identifying and measuring geographical reach will become far more important in measurement as different locations will require different types of communications..
So go out there as my friend Rick says: make a new world start, and find the courage to let go and the strength to know. I think you’ll find a very good thing coming down.