June 7, 2013

The Importance of PR and Communication Measurement

Communications Departments resemble a big, messy factory; but what do they manufacture? Well, image, brand, value, business… However, in spite of having everything planned ahead in a comprehensive communications plan, no scheduling is implemented since you cannot possibly follow an organized daily schedule in a communications department in the midst of calls, meetings, interview requests, trips, and so and so forth. I guess you know what I am talking about. We do care about building up reputation, but does anyone have enough time to carefully analyze and measure the whole company’s reputation?

 Analiser

Do you have enough time to sit back and think if you are targeting the initial goals? Did the press release reach your main target audience? Was it read? Was it published? And what about the interview made to your CEO? Was it published as expected? Did the message get through? Did you project the image that your company or spokesperson was aiming? Did you reach your goals? Too many questions, few answers. Often we do not have time to sit back to receive the feedback, i.e. assess the impact of our campaigns.

This is why PR metrics become so important… Everything must be measured! We work hand-in-hand with our journalists, we send them information, we keep in touch with them, we read what they publish about us –sometimes we even keep it- and we think we have everything under control until one day there comes our Communications Director and says: “Excuse me, could you let me know how many times we worked with this company, how many press releases we sent them, to how many events we invited them, and if they published anything about us and, if so, how many articles and how? I am going to have lunch with their Editor-in-Chief and I would like to understand how they have been handling the information lately.” All of a sudden, the facts that we thought we had under control crumble into pieces. We search the notes, the emails, the clipping tool, but we cannot find the required information. What can we do?

At this point we have the power to add value to our job. Communication measurement must be methodic, regular, segmented, accessible and agile. We may add value to our job by showing that we have everything under control and materializing our job in scorecards that facilitate access to the information when and where needed. We may generate customized PR reports containing our communication actions and the generated clipping to trace the actions performed at the communications department –“Who do I work for? What do I do for them? What do they say about me in the media?” This is the perfect offset to our communications strategy to help us understand if we have achieved our goals, if we are targeting the right channel, or if we have chosen the correct communication message or media. This is what communication metrics are for.

For instance, by means of a thorough PR analysis we may find out the major attributes associated to our brand. Quantitative data is quite interesting and significant, of course, especially for those who do not belong to the communications department, but what about us? Is this data useful and relevant? I understand that the key for professionals is qualitative information –i.e., how I look, where I am published, the tone attached by the journalist to my information, if such information is related to my communication actions, if the message was correctly conveyed, if the information is spontaneous and, if so, the data can be compared and crossed, if my communication strategy is effective, which are the most interesting business areas for the media, if my spokespersons are transparent and manage to get the message through… Can I identify the major values of my brand? It is all about measuring. At the end of the day, data is all we need to verify our work.

In sum, communication reports should be useful to:

  • Show our company’s perception through the information released.
  • Check the effectiveness of our communications strategies.
  • Understand our associated values through the information released.
  • Make a differential analysis of how the information is treated by the media.
  • Determine image profile.
  • Determine the weaknesses and strengths of the image projected.
  • Determine the communications plan strategy.
  • Correctly handling the reputation of our company.

This is why communication measurement is so important. We must understand how our image (or our client’s image) is perceived by our target groups and the impact of each of our communication campaigns to obtain a global analysis of our company’s reputation.

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