Business relies on the language of numbers — percent sales change, profit margins, earnings-per-share ratios, alphas, etc. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it, so the saying goes, especially in this data-driven age.
Public relations, by comparison, is a language of influence and persuasion, or qualitative insights. When we do use numbers, they tend to be borrowed from marketing, such as share of voice or ad value equivalency, or even decades-old efforts to measure consumer influence by analyzing the content of published media.
So, what if public relations could adopt a lexicon of numbers? What if we had access to metrics that cut through the media noise to benchmark actual communication reach with consumers? What if we could consistently present executives with yardsticks that tracked consumer engagement in our campaigns? What if we could predict the depth and duration of a crisis? What if we could measure our success in real business terms?
None of this is theoretical. It’s all been done. However, would better metrics help us to manage the PR function more efficiently? To be more tactical in our counsel to executives? To be truly strategic, in terms of quantifiable contributions to top-line and bottom-line results?
These are questions for you. What do you think? There’s a survey posted online at https://g4-us.yougov.com/vYSYQCxmnQRPD3. The results of this survey will give us a baseline for a workshop I’ll be helping present in Philadelphia.
As results from the survey come in, I’ll also update the PRSA conference blog, so stay tuned.
Looking forward to seeing you in Philly!
Jim Pierpoint is a senior vice president in marketing research at Bank of America. A former Reuters correspondent, PR executive and commercial mortgage broker – interesting story, that one – Jim’s work is focused on gauging media impacts on brand perceptions and business results. Contact him for questions about the survey.