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.