Dollarizing Data…

Where’s the Return?

Since beginning work in Public Relations, I’ve been surprised by the scarcity of measurement tools used to make decisions. When we move beyond using measurement to guide decisions, and into using metrics to determine ROI – we move from scarcity to vacuity.

As such, you can probably imagine my excitement, when opening a recent version of PR Week, to see the 2011 “Corporate Survey”. Surely there would be some information in here that showed that there were others out there trying to go beyond using data to support a point – instead using it to develop and prioritize strategies based on quantifying ROI!

Nope…in fact, when looking at survey responses, some of the “highlights” included:

  • On average, companies are spending 5.2-6.2% of PR budget on measurement (once you see what gets classified as measurement, this number becomes more disheartening).
  • What measurement that does exist is only shared to PR Colleagues 71% of time, C-Suite 69% of the time, Marketing 61% of the time, and less than ¼ of the time were they shared with sales!
    • Some of respondents’ favorite ways of measuring effectiveness?
    • Monitoring Clip Reports – 53%
    • Internal Team Conducting Media Analysis – 41%
    • PR Agency conducting media analysis -21%
    • Surveys/Polling – 15%

While the above were only highlights from the list, the big things that struck me were what was missing (ROI Measurement) and what was at the header (PR is a notoriously difficult discipline to measure).

This guy’s $0.02: These days will be over soon. Edelman Berland is developing a systematic process to begin quantifying ROI in PR – in a way that can be generalized across clients and industries, and at the same time built around an approach that can/should be individualized based on the nuance of unique clients, program details, etc.

Marketing used to say it was difficult to measure – until the discipline realized that measurement can actually beget more (and more strategic) work with a greater impact on client objectives.

The time is right to start moving from gut-based programs to goal-based programs – with clearly articulated metrics/targets established at the outset. Our clients need this and it will help us add impact to our advice.

In the next installment, I will outline a hierarchy of PR measurement along with some tactical steps that can be taken to begin measuring returns.