Monday, March 06, 2006

What Should We Measure?

I received a much-belated but very welcome comment (in response to this post) from measurement guru Katie Delahaye Paine over the weekend.
I'm as enthusiastic as anyone about P&G's new measurement system. In fact I named it one of the "Products of the Year" in my newsletter. But I do need to add a note of caution. The type of measurement you need depends on the objectives you set for your program. If sales is your objective, then P&G's solution is great. But if you're trying to build support for your cause, or if you're trying to sell something that costs millions and takes years for a sale to close, trying to tie PR to sales is a waste of time. There are a number of measures of PR success and not all are tied to sales.
Katie - first of all, thanks very much for visiting. Having followed your work for years (whether I agreed with it or not), I am honored that you stopped by.

While I can't disagree with your comment - it is sensible, logical, and thoughtful - I contend that the vast majority of corporations who engage a PR agency are keen on "sales" as their objective.

Short of a charitable effort (e.g., "kidney donation" - one of our pro bono projects), there is nothing in my mind about "building support for a cause" and/or "trying to sell something that costs millions and takes years for a sale to close" that does not loop back to the ultimate question: "Did my PR spend positively impact the company's bottom-line?"

I do not suggest that measurements such as "Share Of Voice" (and related terminology for Media Content Analyses) are worthless. Certainly it is very NICE to know that the client's PR message is resonating, and maybe even gaining traction vs. a competitor. But in the end - with more and more "rival" elements within the marketing mix becoming automated/measurable - as an industry we are going to NEED to know how our PR measures impacted REVENUE.

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