How Do You Measure PR? Katie Paine The Measurement Queen Shows Us How
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Similarly, if you’re tracking activities but never tie these numbers back to revenue or sales, what’s the real purpose of these measurements?
Putting on our analytics cap to ensure efforts contribute to the bottom line for clients, the Arketi team is embarking on a journey to better understand the metrics that matter most in B2B technology marketing. To do this, we’re speaking with some of the smartest industry experts measuring marketing and communications.
From PR and search marketing to demand generation and websites, we’re uncovering the most valuable metrics and tools you need to know.
To kick off our Measurements that Matter series, we spoke with Katie Delahaye Paine, best known as The Measurement Queen, to discuss measurements for PR.
Arketi Group: Why does measurement really matter in public relations? Why is it so important today?
Katie Paine: Every day, there are decisions about what you have to put resources toward or how you need to respond to certain messages. The way to make those decisions is not your gut instinct anymore because it may or may not be relevant.
What you want is data that shows how something was done the last time or the way the competition handles it. For example, the last time we did a campaign, we got a 20 percent lift in conversions because we did X, Y, and Z. You need data to drive decisions.
What are some of the top measurements you think matter most for public relations?
I think there's only one that really matters – and many that are overrated. What really matters is business value. Whether is it defined as a conversion through Omniture or Google Analytics, a qualified lead, an uptick in trust or in your reputation awareness, the defined business value is the only thing that really matters.
The problem with most PR programs is nobody says to senior leadership, ”Our business goal is to increase revenue, reduce cost, and grow market by X. How does what we do every day in PR contribute to that?”
Once you get them to articulate that, you have clear direction on what to measure. For example, if the executive says PR should aim to increase preference or consideration, then the best means to measure this is through a quarterly survey.
If it's “I want you to increase sales leads” or “increase our visibility,” you have to quantify that business value up front. That's really the only thing that matters. It's important to know which activities are contributing to your success.
“The red herring factor is when people say, ‘I want to increase awareness.’ It's not really about awareness or impression—it's getting people to understand what you do and why it's important.”
Katie Delahaye Paine, best known as The Measurement Queen
Are there any red herrings in measuring PR that you've come across?
The biggest one that makes me crazy is doing PR to “increase awareness.“
If you are a new company nobody has ever heard of, I'll buy the idea of doing PR for that. But if you are SAP or another established brand, it's not about increasing awareness—it's about increasing perception or consideration.
For example, nonprofits often want to increase awareness of their brand. The problem is not increased awareness, but a false understanding of what the brand is about. If people [correctly] think of [Brand X] as helping eliminate polio from the planet, then that's what you want them to perceive.
The red herring factor is when people say, “I want to increase awareness.” It's not really about awareness or impression—it's getting people to understand what you do and why it's important.
How would you go about measuring perception? What would be the first step to doing that?
Start with a benchmark survey. Identify your target audiences and your key stakeholders. It doesn’t matter whether it's a quantitative or qualitative survey. You might determine that, at this point in time, “51 percent of the people out there are aware that SAP is a high-tech company” (or whatever the position statement is). Then, do it again three months later, six months later, and on a regular basis.
You can back this up by doing content analysis with social media and traditional media and ask, ”How often does our positioning show up in conversations or the media?”
It's a combination of what are people saying about you, and whether what they're saying contains your key messages, key positioning and support survey research.
What are the most cost-effective ways to measure in PR?
There are lots of options today. For survey research, there's Survata, a great little tool that asks up to six questions, and it's a dollar per response. So you can get 500 responses for $500 if you're clever about how you design the survey.
Google Analytics is my favorite tool of all time because with that, you can tag your PR and social media activities—and more importantly track them.
For example, a relatively little company that I'm working with currently can tell you down to the penny how many subscriptions and how much revenue is generated from every single PR thing that they do. This is not a big company. It’s a tiny little nonprofit association. But they're religious about how they tag their PR efforts and how they track them in Omniture. Omniture is more expensive than Google Analytics, but you can do the same thing in Google Analytics.
Those are my two. If I had to pick a couple more, I'd say Google News and Hootsuite.
What other advice would you give PR pros who want to measure their efforts, but are finding it challenging?
Part of the challenge is you need to do a reset—and it's really hard to do that if you work with an entrenched CMO with an old school mentality who insists PR is all about generating impressions. You have to start by re-assessing what is the purpose of communication and get away from the notion of “I'm going measure PR in an isolation,” because that doesn't work. Then, set up a rigorous structure to measure the whole—not PR individually.
A communications department often measures earned, paid, and owned media. That’s fine, but let’s also look at the communications function as a whole. Look at the contributions, the business results of the paid, earned, and owned pieces, and measure it all as a whole – before making judgments about budgeting and allocation of resources.
Go way back to the beginning of what's the purpose of communications and what are the activities you are doing to support that purpose?
Late last year Arketi was represented at the 2016 Summit on the Future of Communications Measurement & Conclave organized by Paine. Measurement mavens gathered in Durham, N.H. for a two-day conference which debated the future of measurement and looked at new measurement methods. A recap of the 2016 Summit can be found here.
We hope you found some valuable metrics and new measurement tools in PR in this first segment of our Measurements that Matter series. Next time we’ll dive into the measurements that matter in content marketing.
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