Apparently “action is the true measure of intelligence.” So why is there so much talk about measurement in the PR industry, with very few people actually doing something interesting? For those of you who know me, you will know I tend to get pretty animated talking about measurement. I’m immensely proud of the work Chameleon is doing with TrendKite, and more widely, with proving the power of comms. We constantly strive to ensure the work we do for our clients is actually good for their business.
We are, in my opinion, putting a stake in the ground when it comes to how agencies like us should be held to account. So yes, I want to do more than just talk about measurement. I want to help lead the change that needs to happen in our industry.
It really isn’t just about getting excited that a piece of coverage looked nice AND was good for SEO, or that it had a great impact on social. These things, on their own, simply don’t tell the full story. While tools like TrendKite help, and mean PR people can come to the table with numbers their marketing colleagues have been bringing with them for many years. It is about so much more than this.
The measurement flywheel
For me, the holy grail in measurement is about the whole package. What is the sales team saying? How has the coverage you’ve generated helped them? Add great data on top and we are winning in showing the impact. While a lot of people are talking about the ‘sales flywheel’ instead of the ‘funnel’, I very much agree that measurement is a flywheel too. To me what this means is:
It is a continuous process. It is both the start and the end of great insight into what works well for an organisation. It should be used to constantly evolve how you do comms
We need wider stats to show the overall impact of coverage and to help back up the range of evidence you should have when looking to measure your work. Simply coverage or SoV numbers aren't enough
Competitor insights should be fuelling your activity at every stage. When you have the insight of what competitors are doing and what is working for them and what past work has achieved for a brand, you know where you need to be and the issues you need to talk about just to level the playing field
Tangible and intangible insight can provide a measure of real value. We don’t always need stats, but if you have both that’s great. Feedback from the business, probably most importantly the sales teams, and people on the ground is extremely important. How is the coverage you are getting helping them?
Has the coverage been maximised? If it just appears and that is the first and last thing people see of it, it won’t have the impact it should, the business needs to make sure their customers and prospects see it and use it to make the biggest impact possible
Only once you have this insight can you even start to talk about measurement and evaluation in a meaningful way. No one cares about Twitter impressions, LinkedIn likes and circulation figures if the sales team isn’t concentrating on that area, or if when it comes to it, your coverage isn’t helping solve a wider business issue.
A holistic approach to measurement
Taking this holistic approach to measurement means that value isn’t defined in isolation by a single piece of the puzzle. So for example, the focus wouldn’t be which bit of coverage drove website visitors — although obviously, it is a useful metric. Equally, we know that some of what media coverage achieves for a brand isn’t measurable at all, and that is ok too, because if you’re looking at things holistically, you have the opportunity to see the wider context. I regard feedback from the sales team as just as important as any number I could bring to a meeting. For me, having a mix of both quantitative and qualitative insight is where the gold standard lies.
An opportunity to challenge
I personally like challenging the status quo and taking (educated) chances to see if something works. While it won’t always win an award, we all have to try new things to be better. What is important is that we then measure them, and see if they work. If it works, great! Let’s replicate the success. If it doesn’t, we need to make sure we learn something and then apply that knowledge next time. This can be in relation to anything, from trying a new byline idea to a huge integrated campaign.
Let’s face it, the reason why people are scared of measurement is because it will inevitably bring up some tough questions. Unfortunately for us, a lot of people don’t really understand what we do. But what are we going to do, hide away until change gets forced upon us? Or should we be bold and a little brave and see if we can’t learn and push ourselves to do better work, by making measurement an essential part of the way we operate.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’d be lying if I said we had it all sorted, we don’t. I can’t believe anyone does fully. But we are trying, we are pushing, and we want to be held accountable.
We need to take measurement seriously because of the huge revenue potential for our agencies and for the wider discipline of comms. If you’d like to have a chat about measurement, be it over a beer, a cocktail or a coffee, then please get in touch. I love the subject and I’m passionate about trying to bring about change.