How can PR measure up?

No single topic causes as much fear, panic and argument among the PR profession as measurement. From my own experience, discussions with other practitioners and the previous PR Opinions surveys [2005 | 2004] there’s a lot of confusion, and no little denial surrounding the best means of measuring Public Relations.

I’m sure we’ve all heard the argument that you can’t measure the full impact of a PR campaign. Unfortunately in today’s business environment where metrics are central to investment decisions, that just doesn’t cut the mustard.

The UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations has released a number of papers over the past year on the subject of measurement. Their latest, a policy document [PDF] on the subject, presents seven statements on measurement. To summarize:

  • PR is subject to the same measurement requirements as other business disciplines (whether you like it or not)
  • Measurement is difficult across the board not just in PR
    You can simplify the PR measurement issue by paying close attention to planning and objectives from the outset
  • PR can be measured
  • Available measurement models – if used correctly – provide sufficient measurement for decision making
  • There are a wide variety of different areas to measure – be aware of them
  • Measurement is essential in the training and education of practitioners

The policy document also includes a wealth of references and resources on measuring PR. It’s a recommended download.