Metrics. You Can’t Escape Them.

By: Suzanne McGee, Account Director (@mcgeepr)

There have been some online exchanges lately about how to prove the ROI of your PR program. While not new, the questions tend to be the same. How many hits will you get? The number of publications? The number of pick-ups? Reposts? Potential clients ask for a single indicator, but most are fixated on only one number, never mind the quality of coverage, reach of the site or publication, target audience, and more.

In thinking about this, Kyle Johnson’s Media Post’s Metrics Insider piece, “Any Idiot Can Optimize One Variable,” caught my attention this afternoon. While he is addressing online advertisers, he has a great premise that our industry and clients need to ask: “…how many planners and buyers focus only on one metric when setting goals, judging success, and optimizing?” Johnson calls for a more evolutionary approach that is flexible, open and leaves room for new ideas and focuses.

I believe that the same is true for our industry. Rather than spitting out an arbitrary number or measuring by a single factor, now is the time to work together to talk about the goals and achievements for success. First of all, what business goals are we supporting with the communications efforts?

Once this is decided, then we can move on to the myriad questions and variables that ultimately determine next steps for evaluating ROI. What are the goals for media interviews? Why those publications? What do you have to gain? How do you judge a successful media interview? How do you judge coverage? Just by volume? What about the content? Was a quote included? (Did the CEO give quote-worthy material?) How was the company portrayed? Did your messages find their way through the media filter? These are some of the many aspects that need to be considered when determining ROI.

Whew! It’s a lot of questions, but better to ask them up front then to have your expectations shattered by misconceptions. Now is the time to help clients understand how outreach really works and what it means for them, but in context of what it means for their business and corporate image.
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