The subject of measurement is something marketers face on a regular basis. How do you specifically justify your spend and how does specific tactical spend contribute to the bottom line?
I say marketers, because although this is an acute problem for PR practitioners, it’s also something of a black art in most marketing disciplines.
According to the New York Times, a recent Forrester survey found that :
“73 percent of respondents were not confident that they understood the effects that an advertising or marketing campaign could have on sales.”
However, whereas you can measure the contribution of some marketing activities in terms of the number of prospects it delivers, PR has been grappling with this issue for as long as I can remember. Without finding an answer, we have cobbled together various nebulous quantative or qualitative metrics without actually addressing the question. In fact I often think we don’t know or even understand the question!
That’s not to say there isn’t work underway on looking at how to address PR measurement. People like KD Paine have a long track record of helping companies to try and map PR spend/activity to the bottom line. I also know many agencies (including my alma mater Text 100) have developed reasonably sophisticated measurement tools. But are these different approaches causing more confusion? Do we need to agree a framework or frameworks for measurement that can be used across the business?
Todd Defren outlines SHIFT Communications measurement model which is focused on how PR impacts lead generation. Andy Lark believes a commoditized approach to media measurement is required.
My personal view is that while it’s great that agencies (and in-house folks) are building more sophisticated measurement tools, if one of the objectives of these “services” is competitive differentiation, then they have failed. What’s required is a relatively standard means of measurement that can enable clients and employers to get a clearer understanding on the success of their PR spend – whether it be media, internal etc. If clients cannot understand the differences between how agencies measure success then confusion will set in. And remember the first thing that gets cut from the marketing budget is the line item with no tangible link to the bottom line…