PRSAHR Takes Measure of Measurement at 2015 Professional Development Conference

    How to set PR goals, measure and report results was on the agenda when four national experts came to Norfolk October 14th to speak to more than 50 PRSA members at the 2015 Professional Development Conference.

    Among the expert guests:

    - David Rockland, the primary author of the Barcelona Principles and partner/CEO, Ketchum Global Research & Analytics.
    - Nicole Moreo, Director of Research and Insights for the communications and marketing firm Peppercomm.
    - Will Foust, Strategic Planning Director of New Honor Society and an expert in brand strategies.
    - Larisa Cioaca, a lecturer at the University of Maryland, College Park, and former media relations manager at Lockheed Martin Corp.
    Here are just some of the takeaways from the day:
    Start with goals and objectives, says David Rockland as he explained the first of the seven Barcelona Principles.  These are a set of guidelines created by industry representatives at international summits held in 2010 and 2015.  And when goal setting, be holistic remembering that communications is about more than one single campaign in a vacuum.
    “It starts with defining who you are trying to affect and what about them will be different if you are successful,” says David.  “To do so you have to understand your audience well.”
    The second principle is about measuring audience change both qualitative and quantitative, documenting communications outcomes and not just outputs.
    Next, the effect on organizational performance can and should be measured when possible.
    “How many of you got into public relations because you were good at math?” asked David.
    Seeing, not unexpectedly, that no one had, David warned the group to start paying attention to statistics or make a friend of someone who like math in order to apply measurement effectively to organizational metrics and gauge impact on target audiences.
    The fourth principle is that measurement and evaluation require both quantitative and qualitative methods.  You need to measure not only impressions but also factors such as tone, credibility, relevance and prominence, to name only a few.
    Advertising value equivalents, and multipliers are not the way to go, according to principle five.  And six says when it comes to earned and social media, focus on engagement, conversation and communities, not just coverage.
    Finally, measurement and evaluation should be transparent and consistent with valid methods, relevant standards and methodology that factors in potential bias and considers context.
    With a number of real-world examples, Nicole Moreo took the PRSA group through a discussion on tying PR goals to business objectives.
    “You think you know but do you really know,” says Nicole offering a mantra for PR pros.  “Ask the right questions and avoid vanity measures.”
    Just a few highlights:
    -       Avoid vanity metrics in favor or measuring what is really going on.
    -       Social listening is a key.
    -       Key performance indicators (KPIs) must reflect the organizations KPIs.
    -       Internal report structures must translate across the organization.
    -       Target the “white space” and own the content in a segment not overly saturated.
    -       Sometimes media is not enough. “Offline word of mouth can be worth 10 times an online recommendation.”
    “Prove Everything or Die” read one title in David’s second presentation of the day as he worked with the group on setting quality goals.
    “You cannot measure without good goals,” says David.  “Bad goals have no numbers and no dates and are in language that most people won’t understand.”
    After lunch, Will Foust took the stage to focus on social media with a rundown of various platforms, what and how to use their many and robust measurement tools.  But he warned not to get overwhelmed with data.
    “Identify key indicators,” says Will.  “If you are reporting on everything then you are measuring nothing.”
    Will also stressed the importance of goals and setting business objectives for them whether you are in commercial, non-profit or government PR.
    “If what you do doesn’t generate an ROI then you are nothing but an expense,” says Will.
    He was greeting from the audience with an “Amen.”
    That made him pause.  “I never got an amen,” he added.
    Besides stressing the importance of relevance and warning the group of the dangers of memes and cats videos, Will has a more serious red flag to raise about using industry averages.
    “You should only be measuring you against you,” he says.  “Do not chase some wonderful unicorn that is the industry average.  And if a client ever asks you what is the industry average, your answer should be that it doesn’t matter.”
    A few additional thoughts from Will:
    - Find the people who you want to follow you and get them to follow you.
    - A fan is only as valuable as their affinity for you.
    - Choose your hashtags wisely.
    - Just because something is trending very high doesn’t mean that is where you should be.
    - Numbers by themselves are pointless.  Analysis is fundamental to knowing what you are doing.
    - Don’t argue in front of the family.  Know when to take conversations offline.
    - When it comes to content, offer what represent you,  Don’t pander just to get an audience.
    Larisa Cioaca explored traditional media analytics and gave the group a range of options for measurement, from complete and often pricey solutions to free options for listening and documenting results.
    She offered a very pertinent quote from John Pluhowsky, the VP of corporate communications at eBay who said, “If it doesn’t derive an insight to help shape future strategy, don’t measure it.”
    Some highlights of Larisa’s presentation:
    -       When you can’t track your data over time, you have no sense of trend.
    -       Rinse and repeat the cycle is what you want to be involved in.
    -       You don’t talk to media, you talk through media. There is a difference between your target audience and media outlets.
    -       What to code: Basic info (medium, headline, dates, etc.), tone, quality measures (prominence, origin, visibility, etc.) and OPS (opportunity to see).

    Her final message was to remember the importance of integrating data from social media with traditional media, because, says Larisa, your audience doesn’t differentiate how they got a message.
    In wrapping up the day, David showed the group several scorecards and offered insights into how to present measurement to our internal audiences.
    Then summing up the day he added, “We always think of measurement as the thing we do at the end.  It should be a measurement not of how we did but how we can do better next time.”

    Photos from the 2015 Professional Development Conference
    October 14, 2015
    (Photos by Dan Cawley and Marcy Germanotta)


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