December 8, 2016

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Selling PR Measurement to Skeptical Clients

Selling PR Measurement to Skeptical Clients

You’ve attended PR measurement conferences, you’re a regular participant in the monthly #MeasurePR Twitter chat, and you’re the go-to office geek for Excel prowess. You are ready, willing, and able to develop and plan a top-notch measurement program based on the Barcelona Principles, and have your AMEC framework ready to go. So what happens when you suggest implementing a more comprehensive measurement program to your clients and the response is “no”?

Moving beyond “no” can be a challenge, but it shouldn’t be an insurmountable one.

First and foremost, you have to understand why the client might be resisting measurement. Is it because:

  • They already “measure” using AVEs, or counting “Likes”
  • The budget is limited and they’d rather spend scarce resources on other activities
  • They don’t think measurement is necessary or useful/have never done it

Each reason above comes from a different place, but all three can be addressed by demonstrating the value of measurement by showing the client why it is important.

AVEs and vanity metrics

If a client isn’t interested in expanding measurement beyond Advertising Value Equivalencies or “vanity” metrics like counting followers, it’s probably because they are comfortable with the processes they have in place. There are many, many measurement pros out there who lament the staying power of AVEs. The value of AVEs has been challenged repeatedly and vociferously over the years, and yet…they remain.

Depending on the reasons the client is clinging to AVEs, you’ll probably have to keep generating that number. That doesn’t mean you can’t also incorporate additional metrics—so take a look at what the program goals are, and suggest additional tracking or measuring that makes sense. Bonus points if it isn’t too big a lift or if it uses a free program—and use that data to ease a client into more useful metrics. Google Analytics is an example of a free program that will provide actual, useful information about what is working and what isn’t.

Budgetary Constraints

If a client has budget concerns about implementing any new or different measurement, you’ll need to be creative in showing value without raising costs. I’m not going to sugar-coat things: this is the toughest one to move past, because tight budget caps mean that clients have to shift money from what they are doing currently to try something new. That is always going to be a tougher sell than adding on new measurement and comparing, because it carries the risk of disrupting reporting numbers that people have become accustomed to.

To address these concerns, consider proposing measurement that uses programs already in place. If the client is monitoring social media coverage, suggest tracking changes in attitudes or brand perception. By layering measurement on top of existing programs, you can demonstrate the value of measurement without incurring a new cost and without radically shifting existing reporting.

Have no program in place

This response is probably an exaggeration; almost any organization that is tracking PR coverage and is either conducting PR or has a firm hired to work with most likely has some form of measurement on which they rely, even if it is as rudimentary as counting media clips. The challenge here is to show that there really is value in doing the extra work that measurement requires, because there’s likely a bit of the “hey, we haven’t needed it so far, so why invest the time/energy/money/effort now?” –thought process involved.

Introducing the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) model and how these components can be tracked and measured effectively is a good way to introduce measurement in a manner that makes sense, is one way to sell measurement to a skeptical client. Another way, if it can be identified, is peer pressure. If a client’s competitors have won awards or are participating in public forums about their efforts, relaying that information might be an effective way to demonstrate the value of measurement.

Proving that measurement can be effective without busting the budget takes creativity, but is worth it in the long run because you’re better able to track what PR efforts are working, and which ones are not.

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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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