When measurement is met with resistance

Today I was sifting through some of the responses we collected as part of the measurement survey we recently conducted. One section of the survey asked PR professionals to explain what they felt was the biggest obstacle associated with PR measurement. Two responses immediately caught my attention. Here is the first:

“Price. Plain and simple. With budgets being cut back it is hard to justify [measurement] to the execs.”

Well said. I’m not at all surprised to see this response. In fact, I’ve heard this sentiment repeated more times than I can count. Unfortunately, the PR community has been dealing with cuts and tighter budgets during the past several years. Because of this, many PR professionals have found it difficult to sell execs on the benefits of measurement.

When facing executives that are skeptical about the returns measurement offers, I like to point out that measurement pays for itself because it helps achieve better business results. I also remind executives that without a system in place to measure PR results, they’re likely to miss opportunities to grow and beat their competitors.

The other survey response I found interesting was:

“Time – there is so much to do, and people don’t want me or my teams working on measurement when there is work to do.”

I agree that if there is one thing that every PR professional needs more of it is time. While I don’t have a solution for getting more than 24 hours out of a day, I do suggest that agencies be upfront about measurement – and how they’ll use it to deliver results – from the very beginning of the relationship. Clients recognize business results, so make sure they understand that measuring PR is and integral part of achieving great results. Then, build time for measurement into your schedule so you have data and analytics to guide your PR activities every step of the way.

PR professionals have a financial interest in convincing clients and executives that measurement is essential. Based on research done by Wallop! OnDemand, PR agencies and corporate departments without measurement could potentially lose the following:

Corporate PR programs

  • $7,200 lost annually for emerging startups and small businesses
  • $36,000 lost annually for established startups
  • $120,000 lost annually for mid-sized companies
  • $240,000 lost annually for large publicly established companies

Agencies

  • $79,200 lost annually – virtual PR agencies
  • $316,800 lost annually – boutique PR agencies
  • $1,320,000 lost annually – mid-sized PR agencies
  • $2,640,000 lost annually – large PR agencies

These numbers reflect possible losses in revenue due to factors like missed growth opportunities, budget cuts, losing existing clients, and failing to win new clients.

For PR professionals, numbers like these are eye-opening and should not be ignored, even when the idea of measurement is met with some resistance from clients or executives. Insisting on measurement leads to better PR results and happier clients/executives in the end.

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