30
525
Gini Dietrich

Seven Metrics PR Should Track to Gain Respect

By: Gini Dietrich | November 27, 2012 | 
92

A couple of weeks ago, the CEO of Muck Rack wrote an article for Fortune about why PR gets no respect.

Of course, that’s not a new conversation for those of us here; we talk about it a lot. We talk about how measurement of our efforts to real business goals will get us the seat at the leadership table. We also talk about how our jobs are quickly becoming that of a hybrid PR professional.

But he had a couple of insights I thought were really interesting.

He said the reasons the industry gets no respect are because it’s not trackable, PR pros have a terrible reputation problem with journalists, you can’t scale it, and because there is no use putting lipstick on a pig.

Sound about right, based on your experience?

Media Impressions and AVEs?

Joe Thornley, Martin Waxman, and I had a similar conversation on Inside PR last week when we interviewed Shonali Burke about her measurement session at the PRSA International Conference.

In Canada, there is an industry-wide initiative to be rid of media impressions and advertising equivalencies. It’s been so successful, clients no longer ask PR professionals to submit “results” based on those two things.

But in the U.S.? Those things are still the way the industry measures its efforts. In fact, when we judge award entries for the professional organizations, we find the results section to be lacking real business results and focused, instead, on Facebook fans, number of media interviews, and media impressions.

It hurts my analytical brain. It hurts my communications heart.

PR pros win big awards for measuring their efforts that way so why should it change?

It turns out, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. Either we can win the big awards, not have a seat at the table, and keep things status quo or we can shake things up and learn how to take advantage of the web to track against real things that sustain a business. Things such as increased revenues, shortened sales cycles, and improved margins.

Where is the Opportunity?

But, here’s the thing: I’m not so numbers driven I don’t recognize the need for the more, shall we say, light metrics. It is very difficult to measure brand awareness and the effectiveness of traditional PR.

Because of that, we have to find ways to measure our efforts in ways that are meaningful to the executives paying us.

I’ve broken down the types of things you can measure by light (brand awareness) and data-driven (business objectives). This is long. My apology…hopefully you can just cherry pick what makes most sense for your planning.

Light Metrics

  • Media relations: From my perspective, media relations also includes blogger and influencer relations. Because of the web, we no longer have to count on circulation multiplied by two and a half if it’s a consumer publication and five if it’s a trade outlet. Now you can track how many times an article, blog post, or piece of content was shared. You can figure out how many people saw it, shared it, and read it. Get to know Google analytics (really, it’s non-negotiable) and use Squeeze to track your traffic, views, and social shares. Report to your executives the value of each campaign.
  • Customer relations: I won’t call this customer service because I don’t want those professionals to think we’re encroaching on their territory. Rather, we have a huge opportunity to build one-on-one relationships with our customers via the web. Social media provides the opportunity to connect, engage, and chat. In this case, fans, friends, connections, followers, and viewers make sense to track…when combined with the data-driven metrics.
  • Scaleability: One of the things the Muck Rack CEO mentioned as a problem for the industry is PR can’t scale. That was true in the olden days. Today though? PR pros are being tasked with Promoted Posts, Promoted Tweets, and Amplify. In the past, because these things would be considered paid media, they would have lived under the advertising roof. But I’m willing to bet, like us, more and more of you are spending time with these tools. Facebook, Twitter, and Outbrain all give you analytics to support your buys.

Data-Driven Metrics

  • Increased revenue: If you don’t work for a public company, having access to the revenue goals may prove a little difficult. But, if your organization is run like mine, the revenue goals are very visible. Figure out how you can affect growth. If you have ecommerce, your campaigns will drive to landing pages where people can buy. If you don’t sell online, your content, email, social media, media relations, and other efforts will be measured through the leads you generate, how you nurture them, and how you help sales convert them.

    We have one client who has given us access to their CRM so we know exactly where each leads comes from and whether or not they convert. Get access to the things you need to track your efforts and pay attention to how much money you’re driving for the business.

  • Shortened sales cycle: If you’re in a consumer business, this is less important to you. But in a B2B organization, a sales cycle could be anywhere from two days to two years. Work with your sales team to figure out how long the average sale takes and set a goal to beat it. Let’s say it takes 10 months. Set your goal to nine months.

    The best way to shorten a sales cycle? Stay top-of-mind. The best way to stay top-of-mind? Really valuable and interesting content that is shared in the places your prospects hang out (email, social, stadiums, subways, websites, etc.). The better your content, the more likely your prospects are to read it. The more likely they are to read it (or view it or listen to it), the more likely they are to buy from you. PR pros have ultimate control of this.

  • Improved margins: Some of you may have heard me tell this story. We had a client a few years ago who incentivized us based on how much we helped his margins increased. Just as we were about to get our bonus for an improving their margins by two percent. He decided to buy a Ferrari, which killed the margins and we got no bonus.

    If you don’t work for a public organization, I recommend staying away from this one. If you do, however, the easiest way to determine your affect on margins is to track how much revenue you generated, subtract your budget, your salary, and your benefits (if you work for a PR firm, subtract your budget), and the number you end up with is the real revenue you’ll use for reporting. Then you’ll have your finance team help you figure out the margins from there. If you increased revenue by more than what you spent, you can pretty much guarantee you improved margins, too.

  • Big data: For those of you in the industry as long as me, you’ll remember having to sit through focus groups night after night, watching people on the other side of one-sided glass talk about your products or services. I was always happy when the advertising team said we didn’t need to attend. The beauty is that we no longer have to give up our weeknights (and eat pizza four nights in a row) to get information about what our customers think. If you have strong command of all of the data at your fingertips, you will be able to influence high level decisions on product, market positioning, and more. If you don’t know how to sift through the data, look at taking some online courses through Coursera or Big Data University.

Now it’s your turn. What else can the PR industry do to gain the respect it deserves?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

82 comments
StickyBranding
StickyBranding

@getsqueeze very cool. You'll have to give me a demo sometime

StickyBranding
StickyBranding

@getsqueeze I had to do some digging to put 2-&-2 together. Did you rebrand Sequentia or is this something new?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@getsqueeze Only one: @stickybranding's guest post is doing as well as my posts do.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@getsqueeze I also mentioned you when I spoke this week. People need to use the platform!

carriegfung
carriegfung

Thanks for the post! It's really refreshing to see how the PR industry can gain more respect, instead of reading how we can work for our clients. I have never heard of big data until now, but then again I'm still a novice with the whole PR industry... Teaching students to sift through data and avoid long nights with focus groups seems efficient, but I think there is still some great  value in focus groups that other types of methodology does not offer. Hopefully they'll teach more big data courses in the near future!

HughAnderson
HughAnderson

Hey, @ginidietrich , you know I love this stuff. So much so that last month I presented on it to the CIPR in the UK (Chartered Institute of Public Relations). As you said on Inside PR, the Canadians have done well but now the rest of the world needs to gets to grips with an alternative to AVEs. There is some great work coming out from the likes of @kdpaine  and AMEC, but what's the key? Simplicity. Affordability. And Ease of Use. And with the marketing and site analytics now available, it's all possible.

 

If you're interested, the presentation was made public here: http://www.slideshare.net/hugha/public-relations-pr-measurement 

jgombita
jgombita

@ThePRCoach @SpinSucks + to say it is (Cdn.) "industry wide" is disingenuous. Adoption by companies paying for service good but not totality

jgombita
jgombita

Some errors in post/comments @ThePRCoach @SpinSucks paid service MRP trademarked by @CPRSNational & endorsed by some @IABC Canada chapters

bradmarley
bradmarley

*Full disclosure: I didn't read past the media relations bullet. I am so very sorry.*

 

My large automotive client is thinking about getting rid of media impressions altogether. I'm on board with this strategy.

 

Within PR, you (we) lose a little respect when you claim your press release hit 10 billion impressions because anybody can put a release on the wire. The shares and the "likes" allow us to give our clients a more intimate view of our (their) success.

 

The numbers might be lower, but the value is higher.

gsosk
gsosk

@Wikkman Hey Will, how's it going? Thanks for the RT. :) Long time no see!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@Culture_Content That stuff makes me freaking nuts! I'm actually headed to Amsterdam and not back until Saturday

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@javilabbe Hey! Long time no talk! How are you?

lauraclick
lauraclick

I think the biggest problem is getting access to the information. As @EricaAllison mentioned, understanding business goals and their sales cycle and business process is critically important from the beginning. If you don't have access to that information (or if the company doesn't know what the heck they're trying to accomplish), it's going to be awfully difficult for you to achieve success. It all has to start there. And, for us to gain respect, we have to ask those questions and push them to see that our work is not just about "likes" and media impressions.

becktold
becktold

Excellent post Gini.  As one who lives at the intersection of PR-advertising-marketing as head of marketing for Business Wire, establishing measurable goals and working in conjunction with all aspects of communication is critical for PR.  In fact, PR is ideally suited to take a lead as all areas of communications becomes a dialogue and not a one-way message.  That's the PR sweet spot.  Help inform and influence keywords used throughout the organization.  Track and measure links and measure calls-to-action and different touch points in the communications cycle against organizational goals.

 

As a judge for PR awards, it's tremendously disappointing to see the measure of success being media impressions, growth in Twitter followers and increases in Facebook likes.  Step it out - how are those things moving your agreed-to measurement metrics? 

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

Metrics and analytics are great as long as you understand them will enough to explain why they are important. That might sound obvious, but I have sat through more than a few meetings where people tossed around numbers they really didn't understand well.

 

That is the kind of thing that causes issues because people start to lose faith when they aren't sure if the other "guy" knows what they are talking about.

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

Love. Every session with a new client (one on long term retainer) begins with a discussion of their business model and revenue goals. If we don't understand those, no pretty ads or plum media placements will be worth the funds they pay us. We have to understand what drives revenue for them in order to drive revenue for us. :)

Latest blog post: Maximizing Your Time Online

StickyBranding
StickyBranding

@ginidietrich @getsqueeze wow! That's amazing to hear.

kdpaine
kdpaine

 @bradmarley brad, we've had clients who have rejected the whole impressions metric for years. And, the credibility of this metric will continue to decline as the numbers get even sillier (we saw one client data set from Cision that gave every Facebook post 850 million impressions then multiplied it by 3!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @lauraclick  @EricaAllison We won't do business with anyone who won't give us access. In 2013 we're beta testing a performance-based model with a couple of current clients. Both of them have opened up their financials, CRM, and analytics to us and consider us true partners. Without that, we know we can't be successful so we just won't take on a company as a client who isn't willing to let us have access.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @becktold The only real way to determine whether or not those things are moving to the true metrics is to track specific campaigns against them. Use unique URLs, develop different messaging, drop those people into lead nurturing campaigns. That's the only way you truly know. For a while, companies could do ecommerce on FB and that was an easy way to tell, but that went away. It's too bad, too.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @EricaAllison Yes! And then we have to take it even further. Do they give you access to their financials? Their CRM? Their analytics? Are you involved in their executive meetings? Do you attend their sales meetings? Can you track your efforts against the things they're doing to grow their organizations? If we can answer yes to all of those, we're doing our jobs.

bradmarley
bradmarley

 @kdpaine Ha. Why would they give 850 million impressions? Because that's the same number of Facebook registered users? We might as well just say every story has 7 billion impressions and call it a day.

lauraclick
lauraclick

 @ginidietrich  @EricaAllison That's a great practice.

 

For me, since I'm working with smaller clients, it's not so much about getting access, but getting clients to measure the RIGHT things. Many smaller businesses don't have CRMs or if they do, they aren't using it properly. Step one is often to get them to track and measure what they're doing. 

becktold
becktold

 @ginidietrich Exactly right, and I don't really see many folks inserting those unique measurable identifiers into their communications just yet.  Keep informing and reporting!!

RebeccaEdgar
RebeccaEdgar

 @ginidietrich  @Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Interviewed senior finance/CFOs a couple years ago for research paper. Asked them about the value of relationships/reputation, if and where it landed on the balance sheet (short answer yes, but an uncomfortable yes) and where they saw PR's greatest value overall. I should dig it out/dust it off. Great post. Enjoying the discussions it's generating.

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

 @jasonkonopinski  @ginidietrich The finance guys might be useful for helping those who are math challenged in some areas but we still need to know why a particular number is useful or not.

 

For example It is nice to know that someone clicked on an ad or downloaded an ebook but we really want to know about the post click conversion, or "what did they do after."

 

I have a few ebooks in my inbox that I haven't read yet. I intend to, but it may not happen. If your client has 10,000 downloads but but only 5 people read the book what good is it.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Seven Metrics PR Should Track to Gain Respect, spinsucks.com […]

  2. […] Seven Metrics PR Should Track to Gain Respect, spinsucks.com […]

  3. […] week, we took a hard look at the types of metrics (both soft and data-driven) we should be tracking in order to measure our efforts to business […]

  4. […] marketing can offer. It’s like saying PR agencies just do press releases, when there’s a whole scope of activities and disciplines behind the […]

  5. […] During the last few months, we’ve heard a lot of chatter about big data and how to leverage it for public relations. […]

  6. […] than whether or not the agency specializes is how goal-oriented and data-driven they are. Do they track their efforts against your business goals? Do they constantly review data to make changes to the program? Are they willing to stop a campaign […]

  7. […] and measuring are no longer optional. They’re necessary to gain respect. Don’t know what to track and measure? You’re closing your […]

  8. […] than whether or not the agency specializes is how goal-oriented and data-driven they are. Do they track their efforts against your business goals? Do they constantly review data to make changes to the program? Are they willing to stop a campaign […]

  9. […] PR agencies have so much technology at their disposal to get analytics about influencers, yet turning these into valuable insights remains underused. Many agencies still get back to their 10 year old Excel contact lists, daunting Google analytics reports and email open statistics.. barely getting any actionable insights. […]

  10. […] marketing can offer. It’s like saying PR agencies just do press releases, when there’s a whole scope of activities and disciplines behind the […]