September 30, 2016

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

How to establish a measurement calendar

How to establish a measurement calendar

During the most recent #MeasurePR chat, which I was lucky enough to guest-moderate, the conversation turned to the ways to generate smart metrics. One of the featured guests, Heather Whaling, pointed out that measuring over time generally yields more and better results than just end-point measurement. Trends, she noted, generally cannot be measured in the short-term.

Establishing a measurement calendar is one solid approach to getting the most out of measuring metrics, and one participant noted that she liked the idea of a measurement calendar, but hadn’t ever heard of one.

A measurement calendar is no more than setting up clear dates or time periods to run interim analyses. Practically all programs are set up to conduct measurement at the end, to show program successes. However, if you’re engaging in long-term monitoring, or doing PR for a major brand outside of a set program (such as a new product launch or other campaigns with set beginnings and ends), there really is no “end date” to target after which you would do analysis. In either case—set campaigns or ongoing programs—you should consider setting up a measurement calendar.

Setting up a measurement calendar

  • To set up a measurement calendar for an ongoing project, first take a look at what you are measuring that maps back to business objectives.
  • If you’re tracking sentiment to view how brand perception is being received, you’ll probably want a fairly frequent assessment of where things stand.
  • Determine your baseline, and then see how sentient is tracking relative to that baseline on a bi-weekly basis. By setting up a calendar to track this on a regular and somewhat frequent basis, you’ll be able to plug in external markers that might affect your numbers.

For example, if a competitor launches an ad campaign that critiques or mentions your brand by name, you should plug that into your bi-weekly analysis at the time you learn of it. These are the types of things that might be overlooked if you check data infrequently—you’ll see dips in sentiment and then have to go back and dig into the coverage to see why. Establishing an ongoing calendar saves time by requiring a more frequent look at the data and making notations when they occur rather than going back through when the information isn’t as fresh in your mind.

While the example above is about tracking, it works for other measurement items too: number of subscribers, downloads, and other metrics that support goals work too.

Other ideas for measurement calendar tracking dates are:

  • Monthly assessments
  • Quarterly analysis
  • Matching a calendar to key corporate dates, such as board meetings
  • Other internal benchmarking dates
  • Annual assessments

There will be times when it might make sense to add additional dates to an established measurement calendar. During and in the weeks or months following a crisis, it might make sense to dive into the data a bit more frequently—even though it might feel like the worst possible time to add more to your plate.

Establishing a measurement calendar is helpful in that it standardizes your measurement activities and helps to keep goals top of mind. It can also allow you to track progress, compare data month-over-month and year-over-year, and can provide good data on which to base course corrections if they are needed.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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