Defining measurement: expensive or an investment?

During our latest Measurement Minute webinar, The Cost of No PR Measurement, I posed a question…actually two questions:

  1. What qualifies something as expensive?
  2. And, when does something change from being considered expensive – to being thought of as an investment?

The reason I’ve asked these questions is because I continue to hear from PR professionals that they’re not measuring their programs because PR measurement is too expensive. I certainly get that a lot of the measurement solutions out there today are extremely expensive. Many are priced above what is realistic for the average business or agency. That’s why I’ve made it my personal mission to help make measurement more affordable for everyone, regardless of budget size.

That being said, there are some quality, affordable options available for PR measurement. So, before you write off measurement as something that is only for agencies and companies with large budgets, I challenge you to consider all the options for measuring your program, and also to think about what it means to NOT measure PR.

When you don’t measure and analyze PR results, you put yourself and your program at a huge disadvantage. That’s because measurement affords us, as PR professionals, the opportunity to produce better PR results, while proving the business value of our programs.

Yes, it does cost money to collect and analyze data. But, if you have the right program and you’re using it correctly, measurement can be a very worthwhile investment. Plus, there are actually tons of costs that arise when measurement is excluded from PR. While these costs may not be as obvious, I’d argue that they can be much more damaging financially.

In a previous post I talked about some of the ways agencies are impacted when they don’t have a system in place to evaluate their programs. (You can read that post here.) In particular, agencies without measurement risk losing current clients to other agencies, new business bids, budget dollars due to cuts, and growth opportunities. I’d like to expand that information a little more and mention that there is a lot at risk for businesses without measurement, too. For example:

  • Missed opportunities to improve and adjust campaigns – Many PR departments are unsure if their programs are on track to accomplish business objectives and be competitive, because they don’t have the necessary evaluation tools and processes in place. As a result, they miss opportunities to improve and adjust their campaigns.
  • Disappearing budget dollars – Corporate PR teams that don’t prove to executives why spending money on PR is worthwhile are in danger of losing budget dollars for their programs. This is especially true when money is tight. If a company is looking to trim fat from the overall budget, they’re going to eliminate non-essentials and anything considered wasteful. PR pros are tasked with the responsibility of making sure PR isn’t labeled as non-essential. This is where the need for measurement data becomes vital.
  • No opening to grow internal teams – no new headcount – Collecting and analyzing data on an ongoing basis means that at any point information is readily available to show PR’s accomplishments and progress toward company goals. Measurement creates a level of transparency and helps build trust and confidence on the executive end. An executive team that has confidence in the PR program will be more willing to give the green light to add staff to the PR team.
  • Little opportunity to grow the PR budget – This point follows along the same lines as the previous point, in that executives are more willing to devote resources, staff, and money to a program they believe is adding value to the business.

The simple truth is that in order for businesses and agencies to avoid these “expenses,” they need to invest in a quality, affordable measurement solution. When you understand the costs tied to NOT measuring PR, you can start to look at the price you pay to collect and analyze data a little differently –and suddenly measurement becomes much more of an investment than an expense.

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One Response

  1. Hi Kristin,

    My two cent’s worth on this would be that this is something of a chicken-and-egg challenge. PR (including measurement) is considered expensive and a cost item as long as it is not seen to drive business; but it will remain so until measurement demonstrates that it does.

    IMO the question is, how to convert PR measurement data to satisfy the CxO level.

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