One of the larger challenges in measurement is making sure client expectations are met. Since measuring PR results means committing some resources—both personnel and financial—being on the same page as the client when it comes to expectations is mandatory, so make sure to set aside some planning time for this to happen.
Listening is critical – what to listen for when determining what to measure
Listening to what a client wants, needs, and expects is going to be one of the more important steps you take. Often, a client may want to use an outdated form of measurement, like advertising value equivalencies (AVEs), or might be focused on vanity metrics such as likes and followers. Measurement moving beyond that with which they are familiar will require context and explanation.
Ask the following questions, and then listen closely to the answers before you set your goals:
- What have you been measuring, and how have you used that information?
- What are your goals for your PR program?
- What are your overall business goals?
- What kind of time frame are you willing to commit to for measurement?
Each of these questions will provide you with important information as you develop your measurement goals and plans. If the client has been measuring already, there may be information available for creating a baseline—the next important step.
Listening to what a client’s goals are for PR and for the business is important information, as you want to map measuring strategy back to meet the business goals. The time frame question will give you a sense of when you need to schedule interim reporting.
Creating a baseline – why it’s important even if you don’t have much lead time
Establishing a baseline for measurement is critical to measurement success. If you don’t know where you are starting from, making comparisons and coming to conclusions about what has worked and what hasn’t is going to be infinitely harder.
One challenge in establishing a baseline is that the most accurate data will be derived from longer time periods. If a client has been measuring sentiment for three or more years, you’ll have a fantastic trove of data to look at, determine high marks and low points and figure out what the baseline of sentiment is for your client. However, if your client has not been measuring, you’ll need to make certain that there is time in to your project to build that baseline, even if it’s just a few weeks.
Sentiment is just one example. Depending on the business goals, you may be collecting baseline data about leads, website visits, sales, social media engagements and interactions, and much more.
Reporting – communication is just as important with the client as it is with the client’s audiences
Finding a reporting balance that works for both you and the client is a good idea. If a client is new to measurement, or is measuring something other than AVEs for the first time, consider building in time to explain what the numbers mean—and what the client will be able to do with the data. The last thing you want to do is to measure for three, or six months, to a year, submit a bunch of reports, and have the client not know what they should do with the data.
If a particular effort yields great results, sit down with the client and review what happened, how the data reflected that event, and what the impact was on the business goals that were established before the measurement program started. Do the same thing if an effort failed—many times we learn much more when failing than when we succeed.
Meeting—and exceeding—a client’s expectations starts with listening closely and communicating clearly throughout the measurement process.