Measurement: What’s the bottom line?

  • April 30, 2015
  • INK Team

I may be a little biased (okay, totally biased), but I believe reporting is one of the most important parts of working at a public relations agency. It’s not near as sexy as securing a top tier interview, but a really good report can show a PR program’s value to a client and how it contributes to their overall business goals. Yes, I said business goals, not PR goals.

I recently attended the PRNews Measurement Conference and gained some awesome insight into reporting from legendary measurement gurus including, Katie Delahaye Paine, David Hebert, Ina Starrett, Michelle Vangel, Caitlin Mills, Johna Burke, and more. The conference was both inspiring and motivating and I left hoping to one day become an expert in PR reporting and analysis. Until then, I wanted to share my top four takeaways from the conference:

Goal Setting

One of my favorite sessions was led by Dan Hindin, VP of Digital Research & Analytics at Ketchum PR. In his session, Dan described how great he’s been to his wife during her pregnancy. He’s gone on late night trips getting her the sweets she wants. He’s taken his other child to the park so she can relax and enjoy her much deserved alone time. All these sacrifices seem amazing, but according to Dan none of them matter if he misses the birth of his child. The birth of his child is the bottom line.

Dan’s story provides a good analogy for businesses and PR. An interview is solid, coverage is amazing – but what’s the bottom line to the business? Creating strong PR goals is the first step to establishing a strong report. This process begins by understanding your clients’ business goals and how they feed in to the bottom line. What does the company want to do and how can PR efforts support their goals? Understanding this process allows for PR teams to develop goals that relate back to the business and contribute to the bottom line.

Use Numbers That Matter

At the conference, an attendee asked how to analyze more than 2,000 articles his client received. Katie Paine made it very clear that not all of those articles mattered. One way INK highlights numbers that matter is by creating a publication list of sites that are meaningful to the client and only counting results from those sites. As PR professionals, we need to focus on quality not quantity. Remember: don’t use numbers just for the sake of using them – tie them back to the story you are trying to tell.

Report on What the Client Cares About

Imagine walking in to a client meeting with a number of c-suite executives, dropping off a box of 1,000 Legos, and then asking them to build a rocket ship. Would the c-suite executives be able to build the rocket ship you imagined? Would they understand where the pieces go? Odds are the executives will be able to piece together a rocket ship but it may not be a good one and it certainly won’t use every Lego in the box. PR is a lot like this. Individually, you know what each piece does and can do but how do the pieces fit together to meet larger goals? David Hebert with U.S. Geological Survey shared that example with us at the conference and it really stuck with me.

C-suite executives want to know how the information you’re sharing relates back to the business goals and how they can build on it. A good report clearly shows how PR efforts are contributing towards these goals. It’s important to show why things are working or not working. For example, are people clicking a link but not buying the final product? This would show that PR has been successful at driving views, but maybe other factors are affecting the final outcome of not purchasing the product. This part takes a lot of effort, but is definitely worth it.

Assess and Re-strategize

At the measurement conference, it was suggested to have an index card for each client account. On this card there should be a customizable scale of what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable, ranging from numbers 0 to 10. For example, the index card can indicate the weight of different actions that happen through social media. A breakdown can be similar to this: likes are worth .5, comments are worth 1 point, link clicks are worth 2 points, sharing content can be 3 points. At the end of a report, analyze the data on the index card to see how your team did on a scale of 1-10. If you’d like to see an example, feel free to tweet me and I’ll send one your way.

After a report is complete, it’s important to have a team meeting on the strategies that took place, what the results were, and how to improve.


Have any additional measurement tips that you’d like to share? Be sure to reach out and send them our way.

– Allyson

Other good stuff in here