PR Metrics PESO ModelThe last piece of an integrated PESO Model program is measurement, which is going to be a three-part series, in and of itself, because this is not an easy topic to tackle, nor implement.

If you’ve missed the previous articles, you can find them here:

This next mini-series is inside The PESO Model series. 

The PR Industry Has a Bad Rep

The PR industry has a bad rep—and we get no respect. The challenge is that, for the most part, what we do:

  • Is not trackable.
  • The PR industry has a terrible reputation problem with journalists.
  • Executives think all we do is media relations.
  • It’s incredibly challenging to attribute sales to brand awareness.
  • You can’t scale it.
  • There is no use putting lipstick on a pig.

Sound about right, based on your experience?

The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way, but we do have to make some changes—both in the work we do every day and as an industry.

Media Impressions and AVEs?

Too often, we continue to fall back on media impressions and AVEs, even though we know they don’t mean much. They’re comfortable, they give us something to report on, and executives have come to accept them as our metrics.

But in a world full of data both to help us make decisions and measure our efforts to real goals, we have to step outside of our comfort zones and start reporting on the things that matter, not made up metrics.

For every communicator outside of the U.S., media impressions and AVEs are not only passé, they are fined for using them in their PR metrics reporting.

A couple of years ago, AMEC began to invest “significant time and resource to finally kill off this derided metric.” In a paper published on the topic, among the requirements of AMEC members includes:

  • All AMEC members to sign an undertaking that they will not provide AVEs by default to any client. Any client that requests AVE as a metric will receive standard educational material explaining why the metric is invalid and should not be used. They will be offered alternative PR metrics instead.
  • Working with PR Award organizers around the world to introduce a zero-scoring policy if awards entries include AVEs as a metric. AMEC members will not provide an AVE as a metric for any award competition entry.
  • Working closely with academics and PR practitioners to help them help AMEC kill off the demand for the metric which is sustaining it currently.

In direct response to AMEC, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations took it a step further and said any member using AVEs will be banned from the organization.

Today, if a communicator is found to be using AVEs, they “may be liable to disciplinary action.”

But Here In the U.S.?

When we judge award entries for the professional organizations, we find the results section to be lacking real business results. They’re focused, instead, on Facebook fans, the number of media interviews, and media impressions.

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

In my role as an adjunct chief content officer for large brands, I still see agency proposals and plans with “goals” of securing a certain number of articles each month, with complete disregard for anything that might prove they’re contributing to annual recurring revenue or sales.

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 and display them in fancy cases in our lobbies. Or we can have a seat at the table, and learn how to take advantage of the web to track against the real things that sustain a business.

Things such as increased revenue, shortened sales cycles, and improved margins.

Vanity and Data-Driven PR Metrics

But, here’s the thing: I’m not so numbers-driven I don’t recognize the need for vanity PR metrics—or the fact that a good portion of what we do is brand building.

It is very difficult to measure brand awareness and the effectiveness of traditional PR—both very necessary in brand building and reputation and consensus and community. 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 vanity (brand awareness) and data-driven (business objectives) PR metrics.

Vanity Metric: Media Relations

Media relations doesn’t mean just working with journalists; it 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. Or multiply circulation by 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 track the traffic, views, and social shares.

You can attribute a lead to a specific article because it has a link to your website or a piece of content from that article. 

Report to your executives the value of each campaign.

Vanity Metric: Customer Relations

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.

Vanity Metric: Scaleability

One of the challenges of the industry is that PR can’t scale.

That was true in the olden days—even just five years ago. Today though? PR pros are being tasked with boosted postspromoted tweets, and sponsored content.

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. And, because all of these platforms want your money, they give you analytics to support your buys.

Data Metric: Big Data

For those of you who have been in the industry for a few years, 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, while you ate pizza three or four nights in a row.

I was always happy when the advertising team said we didn’t need to attend. They were so boooooring.

The beauty with Big Data is 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 a 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 Cognitive Class.

Data Metric: 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 the sales cycle? Stay top-of-mind. The best way to stay top-of-mind? Create valuable and interesting content that is shared in the places your prospects hang out.

This could include email, social media, stadiums, subways, websites, and more. 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.

Data Metric: Improved Margins

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 improving their margins by two percent, he decided to buy a Ferrari. That killed the margins and we got no bonus.

(I also learned a very valuable lesson.)

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 results is to track how much revenue you generated. Then subtract your budget, your salary, and your benefits (if you work for a PR firm, subtract your budget). The number you end up with is the 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.

Data Metric: 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.

Gain access to the CRM so you know exactly where each lead comes from and whether or not they convert. You have to have access to software the organization so you can track your efforts.

That is how you know how much money you’re driving for the business.

PESO Model Certification

Do you want to learn how to build and scale an integrated communications program? One which drives real business results and shows the PR value clients care about? 

Do you want to stand out to clients and employers, grow your agency or organization,  and lead the communications industry

Learn how you can become PESO Model Certified today.

PESO Model Certification

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich