I was generally surfing the net at the Bangalore airport on my way back home after attending PRune where I was invited to give a talk on how we measure our communications at Godrej. A conversation with one of the fellow fraternity member on what ‘101’ means led me to google it and I was amazed that it actually means “introductory something”. The allusion as per Google is to a college course with the course code 101, which in the American system and probably others indicates an introductory course, often with no prerequisites.
So I decided to christen my 17th Vox Essence column as “Measurement 101”. These are few considerations that have worked for me and when I spoke about them at PRune, people kind of liked them and related to them. So let me summarise that talk through the seven lessons that I have learnt on my measurement journey!
#1 Crisp objectives linked to business imperatives are a strong foundation for any PR success story … Rest is all noise!
Crisp objectives are a strong foundation for any PR success story. A good approach for this could be to set clear PR objectives aligned to the corporate goals. These could be in addition to the regular qualitative and quantitative goals. Worked out in conjunction with the business leaders, they become co-owned and get tracked regularly. Understanding of the overall corporate / business goals and figuring out how PR can help fulfill them also puts PR in the strategic zone. The focus then shifts towards outcomes and not outputs of the PR team. Good part is that there are techniques available to evaluate PR with respect to corporate / brand goals viz. shift in perception, reputation, brand tracks, leads, and employer brand scores, just to mention a few.
|Business Goal||PR Imperative (Outcomes)|
|Sales and business development||Awareness and Perception|
|Rise in market share||Brand preference|
|Build and sustain reputation||Bridging the gap between audience perception and desired reputation|
|No crisis||Crisis preparedness, manage crisis and reduce negative impacts|
|Employee retention / talent attraction||Employer branding|
#2 Measures are easy to attach if one knows, “what success looks like”
Measures are easy to attach if one knows, “what success look like”, “desired behavioral changes are” and other well-articulated objectives. Measuring progress against each objective then becomes more realistic and believable.
#3 Track progress using the qualitative and quantitative measures!
|Qualitative measures||Quantitative measure|
Once the visualisation of success is clear, tracking the progress using the qualitative and quantitative measures becomes more realistic.
#4 Numbers orientation for the PR team is a must!
It’s a no brainer that your stakeholders within the organizations are more comfortable to deal with numbers and charts rather than anecdotal evidences of some coverage somewhere or a pic on the front page. Communicators need to develop a penchant for analysing numbers and deriving inferences from them which could be used to impact the businesses.
#5 Don’t stop at the first step – analyse outcomes!
I strongly believe that communications measurement is a three step process – Communication Outputs (Efficiency parameters such as how many media on ground, number of clips, tonality etc.), Communication Outcomes (brand scores, disposition scores, Top of mind recall etc.) and lastly Business Outcomes (Increase in sales, increase in footfalls, industry rankings, best place to work rankings etc.). Most often, communicators end their measurement at Communication output step and that needs to change! Actual reputation journey starts only after the second step!
#6 Do PR for PR
PR impacts multiple levers – corporate reputation, employee retention, crisis mitigation, sales, product brands, stock price, stakeholder engagement and many more. We as a PR community (and even Marketing, Finance, Strategy, Sales, HR and other functions) know it with conviction that PR works. The importance of a good communications department or a PR campaign can be best understood by simply imagining what things would be like in its absence.
Then, why do we seem so apologetic? It cannot be just the fact that we have not done enough PR for PR, the way we have done PR for other functions.
#7 Invest in measurement tools
The cost of ‘not measuring’ could be very high! It’s like buying a car without the information dashboard! Measurement tools and the data they throw up are necessary for having a sense of direction and course corrections on your path of achieving the larger objectives!
I believe, large organisations are microcosms of a complex world full of diversity. With multiple stakeholders across multiple businesses and geographies; within and outside the organisation enabled by a global information landscape, the PR measurement conundrum can be complicated. Trying to quantify could be even more. Can one quantify the cost of reputation saved due to effective PR? Can we assign a monetary value to it or the frequent crises a PR team mitigates silently and claim it as the ROI?