A reality check for PR analytics and measurement

As AMEC’s measurement week comes to a close, Gorkana has provided some stats that I think frame the context of the PR measurement debate nicely.

This first graph asks what a PRO’s communications objectives are, and the results make for some interesting reading. I’m not sure the fact that only 45% of PR people have the objective to impact sales is a surprise to me, but it does put the sector's paranoia about its influence on ROI into some context.

What are your current communications objectives?

Measuring your own work

The next stat, I thought was a sad reflection on the state of the market.

Who does your measurement?

On the face of it, nearly 80% of PR and communications folks mark their own work. Not only does this throw in the element of bias, but proper analytics of measurement require resource and expertise.

The fact that only 43% of the market are employing an external analysis supplier is a worry and suggests that measurement is not being given the necessary budget to properly link its performance to its objectives. The net result of this is undoubtedly much more money is wasted on underperforming work.

People always throw “lack of budget” as a reason for not investing in analytics but any investment you make will save you money in no time at all because you will quickly work out what works and what doesn’t.


What are the KPIs to your business and which do you currently use or would like to use?

Despite the work of AMEC, profiling the poor practice of AVEs – 80% of PR and comms people still use them. Frankly, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Some of us have been saying that this is the elephant in the room for some time.

My view is that if any comms director walks into a board meeting with AVE as their only metric, they don’t deserve to have a job. But if they use AVE as part of a metrics suit, presumably as a relative media relations score (to be clear the value is completely ridiculous and follows no logical analysis) then I’m not sure the industry wide negativity gets us anywhere.

You can’t define the future of measurement on an anti AVE basis; it may even make it worse because by “banning” AVE’s (and the ban is not working) you’re creating a vacuum for a silver bullet measurement alternative, which will never happen. PR campaigns have different objectives, so the idea of one single measurement metric is a theoretical impossibility.

Measuring the Outcomes

If I spent money on PR, I’d want outcome measurement. Measuring outputs might make me feel reassured, or act as an early warning system, but outcomes are what will define the success of a campaign, and my internal credibility. Outcome measurement isn’t easy, and it probably won’t come cheap.

Do you currently measure outcomes?

According to Gorkana’s research, currently only 40% of PR people measure outcomes. Which I suspect is true, albeit a head in the hands moment.

Measurement education

This slide wound me up. Apparently 95% of PR people want to know more about measurement. Anyone heard of Google?

Is there enough education on industry PR measurement?

AMEC has done some good work on creating PR measurement frameworks and a social media measurement framework that gives PR and comms people free access to the relevant metrics they should use, according to their objectives and the channel they are using. I do think it’s time PR people get more pro-active with this.

It’s in your interest, if you educate yourself about analytics and measurement – you will earn more! You don’t need to become a measurement geek, that’s what the measurement service providers are for. But it’s reached the stage where if you haven’t shown the interest to read and understand AMEC’s framework documents, I start to loose the will! A cursory read of a trade title, or the numerous trade bodies’ websites and you’d be very unlucky not to come across AMEC's work in this area.

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