March 10, 2016

Measurement: What Before How

When I started learning more about PR measurement standards (see Barcelona Principles), I was surprised to discover that what you should measure is not standard.

According to Katie Delahaye Paine, defining your metrics follows getting consensus on how PR contributes to the organization, and defining what success looks like for PR. Your metrics should reflect those goals and expectations, so it stands to reason that your metrics will be different than mine.

Here’s an example from my personal life: I recently joined U.S. Masters Swimming and competed in my first swim meet. I swam one short race, and I was by far the slowest person in the pool.

Most swimmers I know are measuring their race times—personal bests and where they are against competitors and national qualifying times.

Not me. I have young-onset Parkinson’s disease and I’ve lost some function on my left side. I will probably always be one of the slowest people in the pool. My swimming metrics looks like this:

  • Is my body moving well enough that I can get in the pool?
  • Am I moving as symmetrically as I can?
  • Do I feel like I’m moving smoothly through the water?

Answering yes to these questions equals a good swim for me, regardless of my time.

What does this look like for a communications campaign? Paine says the perfect metrics:

  • Are actionable
  • Are there when you need them
  • Continuously improve processes and get you where you need to go

If success is an increase in desired behavior among key stakeholders, your metrics, in Paine’s example, could include:

  • Activity metric: Percent increase in comments, shares and retweets
  • Outcome metric: Percent change in desired behavior

With these metrics defined, you can create a scorecard to help you measure and report progress over time.

Have additional thoughts about defining metrics? Tweet us @JayRayAdsPR.