One of the primary stumbling blocks for setting up measurement programs is that because they are both highly individualized (dependent upon individual business goals) and produce valuable data (much of which could be considered proprietary and confidential), there aren’t as many easy examples to point to and say, “there—that’s what we need to be doing.”
Yet, one of the best ways to demonstrate to clients how measurement can help them is to point to case studies and concrete examples. We end up caught in an endless circle of “won’t someone please show us how this is done?” and “we can’t post about our measurement successes—this is valuable information, and we don’t want our competitors to know what we’re doing.”
Viewing measurement activities as a critical part of the ongoing partnership between a PR firm and its clients is a goal worth striving to meet, and sharing results will help measurement to become a more routine part of PR work. The best ways to do this are to create case studies, share knowledge, and when appropriate, share recognition of success with awards.
The Case for Case Studies
Case studies are probably the best way to learn about measurement: how to set it up, how to conduct measurement processes, and what to do with your results. Unfortunately, the availability of case studies for PR measurement is fairly limited—while there are some good ones out there, seeking them out takes a bit of time.
This means that this presents an opportunity for companies that have measurement plans in place. When you set up a measurement program, you’ll be reporting results internally. At the same time, see if there might be a path to sharing the results with external audiences too.
Being in a position to share your measurement successes through case studies with others goes beyond simple altruism. It will also help to establish you as a thought leader. The nice thing about case studies is that you don’t necessarily have to provide the level of detail that might make the C-suite nervous—you just have to demonstrate how measurement contributed to the results. For example, if a case study were to disclose that after a solid campaign a survey showed that there was a 47 percent increase in brand recognition among the target audience, you’ve demonstrated the result: the increase in recognition. The proprietary information is who the target audience is, and possibly how they were reached.
In other words, there are ways to provide useful case studies that don’t give away trade secrets—and case studies can bolster your company’s position as a thought leader by showing how PR measurement can work. The best way to share these case studies is on your own website, as part of the “O” in your PESO strategy. The “owned” part of media is typically considered to be things like blog posts and white papers, but think about posting your own case studies on PR measurement successes.
Everybody likes awards. They are industry recognition of a job well done—and they receive attention, primarily in industry circles and press. Organizations like AMEC—the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication—have annual awards programs that recognize excellence in using measurement and analytics in communications programs. PRSA awards and Bronze Anvil awards every year too—and program evaluation is part of the entry process. Investigate the criteria, and if a program you’ve designed has shown exceptional results, enter it.
The entire industry will benefit if solid measurement becomes a routine and regular part of PR. By working in partnership with clients to encourage more sharing of successes, we can increase the visibility of measurement, get more companies comfortable with real measurement processes, and demonstrate that although it might not be push-button easy, measurement can provide real value to companies working to improve their public relations programs.