March 30, 2012
Raising Your Game: Make the Move from Spreadsheets to Real PR Measurement
More Than Data, It's About Defining Measurement Objectives and Scope
By Kristin Jones, CEO, Wallop! OnDemand
Can you measure PR results using pure numbers, recorded dutifully on a spreadsheet? According to survey results, 40 percent of PR professionals use spreadsheets to track PR results or they don't measure results at all. So, here's a question: Which is more effective: a) using spreadsheets to track results or b) not measuring PR at all and simply guessing when it comes to results and strategy? To be honest, it's probably a toss-up. Using spreadsheets means spending time and effort collecting data and dropping it into a file. But, without meaningful analytics how useful is that data? Chances are you could skip the whole process, use the time and resources for other campaign work, and you'd have about the same understanding of how to proceed with future PR strategy. However, here's good news: Monitoring and measuring PR results—effectively, meaningfully, usefully—can be easier than you may think. Here are some simple steps to help you transition from spreadsheets to real measurement.
Define Your Measurement Objectives. Consider why you want to track coverage and measure results – what do you want to gain? Are you looking to stay on top of the news, find better media opportunities, stay abreast of competitors, respond to competitive threats? There are many reasons to perform measurement, and your individual reasons for doing so will be unique to your program and how you plan to use data and analytics.
Defining measurement objectives will allow you to design a measurement program tailored to your needs. It will also enable you to focus measurement efforts on capturing the information that is most valuable to you, and also to the executive team.
A lot of PR teams just go out and track coverage for the sake of having some sort of results to pass along to clients and executives. They never consider whether the results are valuable or relevant. This approach to measurement is a waste of valuable time and resources. If you're going to take the time to capture information – and then format and package it for executives – don't you want the final product to be something they'll actually read and use? Not to mention the fact that YOU should be benefiting from the information, too.
Monitoring and measuring coverage takes time and money. To see a return on your measurement investment, you need to collect information and use it to formulate PR strategy. And, to do that you must start by capturing the right information in the first place – another reason to know your measurement objectives.
Define Your Measurement Scope. One of the best ways to assess the appropriate scope of your measurement is to put some advance thought into the reporting process. Think about the reports you will present to clients and executives. What do clients and execs expect to see in PR reports – and what information do you need to include in order to make sure that executives will actually read your PR reports and not just toss them aside? For example, decide if you want to show the total number of clips PR earned, ad value, coverage over time, trends on key topics, side-by-side comparisons with competitors, or other information. There are many options for configuring reports, so you need to settle on the information you want to present. That way you will be able to formulate measurement to capture and analyze this exact information. And, you won't be scrambling later on to come up with relevant information to include in your PR reports.
Consider Report Timing. Besides knowing what you plan to include in PR reports, it is also useful to pin down the timing of your reports. Do you plan to present PR reports monthly, quarterly, every six months? Or, will executives request to see reports more frequently, for example, weekly or daily? Of course, reporting frequency goes hand-in-hand with your measurement objectives and reasons for tracking PR results. If your main purpose for measuring and analyzing PR is so you can respond to competitive threats, then you may need to implement a daily reporting process so you can stay on top of competitors. On the other hand, if your measurement priorities are more tied to long term PR strategy development, then a quarterly reporting schedule is probably more appropriate.
The Takeaway. When you are finally ready to ditch those spreadsheets, there are some initial things to think about to make your conversion to real measurement successful. Defining measurement objectives, scope and report timing will provide focus and help you get off on the right foot as you begin the transition towards implementing a truly valuable measurement program.
Could your PR measurement program use a jump start? See how Wallop! OnDemand is helping PR teams implement measurement that drives strategy and achieves results. Schedule a demo to learn more about Wallop!'s measurement and monitoring services, or visit www.wallopondemand.com.