by Angela Almasy

January 5, 2016

These days we measure everything, from how many likes our Instagram photos get to how many dollars we saved on our latest shopping trip. Yet we still see many instances where PR activities aren’t measured.

The fact is, your C-suite wants to see results that demonstrate direct impact on the organization, and what better way to show these results than through numbers? Whether you’re a beginner or well-traveled along the measurement road, here are four tips to improve how you measure PR.

1. Plan ahead

Measurement should always be a part of your program’s plan, as it is the best way to ensure you accurately and effectively accomplish your desired outcomes. Think about your ultimate end goal and how you will define success, and then decide what data are needed to demonstrate progress.

Also think about how often you will gather data. Are there particular milestones in your program? Should you measure weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Proactively determining these parameters will ensure more accurate, quality measurement.

2. Evaluate your current tools

Chances are your organization subscribes to a number of tools, such as social media monitoring services or analytics from your newswire service, and you may not even be aware of what they all have to offer. Evaluating your current tools and what data they provide can help you determine what you can measure, as well as identify gaps in measurement where you may need to explore additional capabilities or resources.

Don’t forget about the array of free tools that are available. For example, you can gain quite a bit of insight from the free analytics tools offered by Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Other free tools like IconosquareKlout and Social Mention provide analytics that you can use to identify trends and assess progress. Before you commit to using these tools, however, it’s important to understand what each one measures and how data is gathered.

3. Establish baseline metrics

The best way to show progress is by knowing where you start. You wouldn’t attempt to lose weight without hopping on the scale to find out your current weight, right? The same goes for PR measurement. Decide what baseline metrics will be most beneficial in measuring your progress. Maybe it’s as simple as documenting how many followers your company has on social media channels, or perhaps it’s more in depth, such as conducting media coverage analysis on your CEO or brand. This baseline data will help you determine what goals to set (see #1) and will make it easier to show growth over time.

4. Assess your reporting methods

Finally, think about what matters most to your stakeholders, both internal and external, as you decide how to present your data and tell the story of your success. Perhaps you should develop a designed reporting template that your stakeholders can easily scan for highlights. Charts and graphs are also great tools for visually showing progress over time.

Think about including a key that explains what the measurement terms mean. For example, the terms engagement and influence get thrown around a lot, but not everyone knows how they are calculated or what they mean. Providing this essential background can help show the significance of the data you report.

Whether you’ve been measuring your PR efforts for a while or just beginning to navigate your way through it all, remember the value in using numbers to show your progress. You may find that your program or approach needs to be adjusted along the way. The important thing to know is that you are using analytics to make strategic, data-driven decisions.

What are your measurement goals and challenges? If you’d like to chat more about improving or expanding how you measure your PR activities, drop me a line or send me a tweet (@angelaalmasy).