Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
November 11, 2009

Successful Measurement Starts With Business Objectives

Public relations practitioners struggle with the concept of measurement. Historically, teams counted clips, dutifully sizing each story and making assessments based on advertising rates on the value of each story.  This not only undermines the quality of reporting, it reflects an old-fashioned metric called Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE).

In her presentation, “From ROI to KPI: Practical Solutions to Measurement Conundrums,” Shonali Burke, ABC, urges practitioners to start with the business objectives of your organization as a way to look at measurement.
This is a new concept for public relations professionals who aren’t used to taking “credit” for organizational success and focused on delivering “column inches” or “air time.”

She asks the question: “What are you trying to achieve? What are the outcomes you desire, or what type of behavior do you want to influence in your organization?”

Burke believes that smart measurement is about measuring what’s important and NOT about creating statistics in a vacuum. She calls these KPIs or key performance indicators and gave several good examples that applied to various types of organizations. 

Some of these are right under our noses, like increasing Web traffic or accelerating online donations as part of an ongoing or new campaign. She also stressed the difference between outputs, outtakes and outcomes. While in the beginning you can easily think through the output, eventually the outtakes and outcomes become more important for an organization.

She drew heavily on the work of K.D. Paine and her recent book on measurement. Her examples were excellent and really gave the audience ideas on how to get started.

By Fran Stephenson, director, corporate communications, Rackspace Hosting, and the communications chair for the PRSA San Antonio Chapter. Connect with Fran on LinkedIn.

For coverage of the PRSA 2009 International Conference: Delivering Value, visit our Conference blog or follow the conversation on Twitter at hashtag #prsa09.

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