In a recent BurrellesLuce survey, 63 percent of respondents expressed a desire to demonstrate public relations effectiveness. Of those respondents, 44 percent apply qualitative metrics (such as key messages and prominence) to their media coverage, while 42 percent primarily use quantitative metrics. The enlightening results: One in five practitioners who believe demonstrating public relations effectiveness is most important is doing nothing to measure it.
I believe the only way to truly demonstrate public relations effectiveness requires a holistic reporting program properly aligned with your overarching corporate objectives. This means having a tiered approach to managing media relationships according to their priority for your business. The better you are at public relations basics — good writing and good relationships — the better your results and efforts will resonate with your leadership.
There are 101 excuses why you “can’t” prove ROI or why your specific situation is so unique that metrics won’t help. At PRSA-NCC’s “Using Strategic Media Measurement to Showcase Your Success,” an event I attended last week, one public relations professional told a big truth. She said, “I know I should be doing more, but I’m a coward.” Similar to other practitioners of the coward’s way, she provides the technically oriented just what they want: hard numbers. She reports “impressions and AVE” rather than the true impact, value and influence of good media relations.
I say until engineers are called upon to provide feedback in color, with pictures and nuance, communicators shouldn’t be forced into a quantitative box because it’s easy. While the advice that follows might be contrary to what you’ve heard over the years, I stand behind it: Your CFO is required to provide a proper balance sheet using the language of accounting. If you want to be taken seriously, you should be providing a balance sheet of your public relations efforts using the language of good communication.
Please join me on Monday March 9, 2009, 3–4 p.m. EST for the free PRSA Webinar “How Smart Measurement Can Help You Survive the Media Revolution: Learn to Demonstrate Your Effectiveness.” This webinar features a pragmatic approach to media measurement with hands-on tools and techniques. The advanced measurement crowd who would like to discuss Stevens “on the theory of scales of measurement” is more than welcome, but need not attend.
Johna Burke, vice president, BurrellesLuce, joined the company in 2000. During a career spanning almost 20 years, she has worked as a public relations practitioner and a provider of services that are vital to the work of communication professionals. For 11 years, she worked for U-Haul International, ultimately becoming head of public and investor relations. Burke is a highly rated speaker who is often invited to talk about best practices in public relations, and has spoken for PRSA Chapters, IABC Chapters and ExL Pharma. Her commentaries on the subject have appeared in public relations print and Web outlets.
Join Burke for her FREE webinar How Smart Measurement Can Help You Survive the Media Revolution: Learn to Demonstrate Your Effectiveness on Monday, March 9 at 3 p.m. EST!