Earning Credibility with the C-Suite: Gather baseline data and set measurable goals

As a savvy PR pro, you understand measurement helps create winning PR programs and it provides the type of concrete evidence of success that executives value. So, you’ve decided to incorporate measurement into all of your PR programs. (And, that makes you pretty smart.) But, where do you start?

You may be surprised to know that you actually need to begin measuring even before you craft your PR strategy. Here’s why – if you want to be able to measure how far you’ve come, then you need to know where you started. So, start out by collecting some initial baseline data. This means gathering information from the previous six to twelve months for your business and for the competitors. This will be your baseline standard that you will measure all future progress against. During this process you’ll be able to uncover clues about certain strengths that you may want to capitalize on, as well as opportunities where PR can help achieve more.  

What baseline information do you need to collect? That really depends on your business goals. Measurement needs to map to goals so you can determine if PR is on track to accomplish business objectives. There’s not a universal list of things every program should measure, because every campaign has different goals. You may want to measure total articles, share of voice, message penetration, number of times company executives are quoted compared to competitor executives, sales leads, web hits, net new customers, engagement or other data points. The important thing is that you are collecting the information that’s important to you, your clients and the executive team.

Since I brought it up, let’s stop for a minute and talk about goals. In my last blog post I talked about asking smart questions in order to learn about business goals and craft appropriate PR objectives. You also need to create measurable PR goals. Let me emphasize the keyword in that last sentence: measurable. Here’s the thing, it won’t pay to set abstract goals. Vague goals – like increase awareness, set the agenda, or garner widespread coverage – won’t cut it. This is one area where you really want to get it right. PR goals need to clearly define the specific things you want to accomplish, so that as you measure your progress you’ll clearly be able to see what goals you’ve met.

A few final thoughts on setting measurable goals:

1) To ensure PR strategies and tactics align with business goals you need to be laser focused, and you need to hold PR accountable by evaluating your progress against measurable goals.

2) Setting intangible, vague goals does nothing to help make a case for PR.

When you meet with the C-suite to deliver a report on PR’s progress, you need to have something tangible to present. Executives want to see numbers, metrics and graphs. They want to know what they are getting for their money and they want proof that PR is driving business results. If you’ve taken time to set measurable goals and track your progress, you’ll be prepared to deliver the numbers that are important to the executive team.

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