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.

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