CXO’s perception of PR will drive its measurement

The holistic world of PR measurement & Data analytics hinges on 3 very crucial and interconnected blocks of PR INPUT + PR OUTPUT + PR OUTCOME. However, while this is an inside-out view, the outside-in view is that the future of this domain will be influenced by how CXOs and founders of Corporates & Startups perceive the PR Industry.

Even now, a majority of CXOs and Startup founders across industry verticals perceive public relations as a “relationship management” tactical function as against a strategic Data & MiS-led “brand building” resource. This fundamental dynamic has been the root cause behind the KRAs that get set for:

  1. Not only the PR & Corporate Communications machinery
  2. But also the Measurement & Data Analytics framework.

Currently, the PR Measurement framework of most organizations is not exactly mirroring the PR INPUT-OUTPUT-OUTCOME framework.

The matrices & contributors for each of the INPUT-OUTPUT-OUTCOME blocks will be very different in the two cases – PR as a relationship manager vs a brand builder. The future of Measurement & Data Analytics will depend on how and when the perception of PR transitions from a “relationship manager” to a “brand builder” resource in the minds of the CXOs. How we achieve it, by when and who takes the onus are serious areas that need detailed discussions.

A top view of our industry gives the following observations:

  1. Most CXOs across organisations set up corporate communication functions and hire PR Firms primarily to manage media relationships for effective headline and negative news management. This also includes their expectation – “can I get to see the journalist’s article before it gets published or goes live!”
  2. Ideally, the time spent between top management and corporate communication function should be very high – starting with the business planning stage. However, the reality is that most of PR’s end customers think of this function primarily at the 11th hour or during a news crisis.
  3. Their expectations from PR Firms are hovering around the domain of media relations, journalist, and news management.
  4. Subsequently, CXO’s horizon and expectations from their PR Measurement and Data Analytics services are primarily counts of clips, tonality, geography spread, journalist management MiS, and equivalent advertising value. No wonder, the service providers are, by and large, churning out similar-looking PR Data & Analytics services and reports.

Currently, our industry is maintaining an approximate composition of 5:95. In other words, the CXOs and Chief Communication Officers of around 5% of the corporates have started transitioning PR from a “relationship management” role to that of a “brand builder.” They are, very brave-heartedly, achieving this transition by designing and executing scientific PR & Corporate Communication ERPs – efforts, resources, and processes – all backed by and derived from Measurement, Data & Analytic insights. As a result, the CXO & CCO collective’s ask from Measurement, Data & Analytics service is detailed, reflects a logical flow, and is so beautifully disruptive. It cuts across INPUT, OUTPUT, & OUTCOME management. No wonder, the performance appraisals & budget hikes of this 5% lot is different and above the industry average. Media relations is just a subset of what they focus on…not the entire 100% of their KRAs and KPIs.

The other 95% is still reeling under the perception of PR being a “relationship” driver. Media relations, negative news & headline management, count of stories achieved in the media, EAVs, etc. form almost 100% of their KRAs and KPIs. Another symptom of this section is also that this machinery goes through frequent bouts of lull periods when its management has no news announcements, or talk points to push out. Hence, as a news dispatch desk, challenges like getting acknowledgment for their work, appraisals, and budget hikes become nagging on-ground realities.

Can the recall, framework, and understanding of PR Measurement change? For this, can the shift from PR being “just a tactical, relationship manager” to a “strategic brand builder” take place”?

Of course, yes! More than inside, PR needs PR outside – amongst its end customers. PR needs PR with the help of scientific ERP (efforts, resources & processes) management, measurement, and data analytics.

The industry bodies, various industry platforms including those that focus on awards and recognitions, academia, and industry captains must draw up a timeline-based charter and work towards driving the CXOs’ perception of PR. Only then will PR measurement & data analytics get a fresh breath of air!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Siddhartha Mukherjee
Siddhartha is the founder of Brand Balance that helps the C-suite & CCO collective optimize its Brand Reputation Management ERPs (efforts, resources & processes) across stakeholders. His professional mission is to establish the Corporate Communications function as the only engine towards brand reputation and valuation success.

Before setting up Brand Balance, a neutral organization, his past 23 years of holistic learning curve includes leadership roles across all the three sides of the industry – corporate communications, communications firms and as a business head of a brand data analytics, audit, research & measurement global behemoth. During spare time, he bikes across the Indian highways, writes articles, consults students & professionals and teaches at media and business schools.

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