PR News Measurement Conference Recap: KPIs that Go Beyond Impressions

When a PR News Measurement Conference attendee stood up and said the conference is, “a giant therapy session,” everyone laughed.

Stereotypically, people often go into public relations because they suck at math. Not me, let the record show. I aced math. However, this doesn’t make me a measurement maven.

Measuring our PR efforts has to go beyond impressions. It is up to us to figure out different methodologies, which is no easy task. This is probably why my giggle at the therapy joke may have been the loudest. This is also why I left with nearly 20 pages of notes and energized to tackle the task at hand.

Bring in Data Early and Often

According to AdAge, in the next three years, marketing departments will dedicate 22 percent of their budget to analytics. However, companies use less than 1/3 of their data to drive business decisions. The latter needs to change, and change fast.

Gone are the days of when communications were once based on opinions. As Kieran Fagan from Aetna so eloquently put it, “opinions are like mixtapes – I don’t want to hear yours.” In other words, let your data drive your communication strategy.

Don’t be afraid of data because the C-suite expects it. After all, regardless of industry, data is the language of management.

Get Sign Off on Key Performance Indicators

With the C-suite hungry for bite-size data, make sure they’re in line with what you’re measuring from the beginning. Samantha Wood, digital platforms manager with the Philadelphia Eagles, urged us to, “take initiative to establish your own KPIs and communicate them upward.”

Set a Proxy

Once you have your KPIs and goals set, it’s important to develop a proxy for measuring them.

For years, people have been discrediting ad value equivalency (AVE) so that is no longer a proxy. It was interesting to see the group turning their focus (and hatred) toward impressions. Impressions are a vanity metric and according to Katie Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing, “impressions can’t be a proxy unless they correlate to behavior change.”

Paine, nicknamed the “Queen of Measurement”, said acceptable business metrics could include: customer retention rate, new customer acquisition costs, cost to close a sale, profit or efficiency. On the branding side, relevant metrics could include: increase in the awareness of your brands, share of voice, increase in preference for your brand or share of favorable product reviews.

Don’t Be Afraid to Pivot

Manny Goncalves, executive director, media relations and corporate communications at KPMG, encouraged attendees to have certain milestones within campaigns which allow you to pivot based on data. In that same session, Dan Keir, senior director, direct marketing at Comcast, suggested anchoring yourself in roughly three KPIs and then have 4-5 that can flex depending on the audience.

In Fact, Don’t be Afraid at All

Overall, data is nothing to be scared of regardless of your math proficiency. It only makes campaigns smarter and work harder for your brand. Some of us may have gone into this field to avoid math but it is now time to embrace it.