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Impressions are so 2017: Dos and Don’ts for 2018 measurement  

21st January 2018


Chief client officer, Danica Ross on the need to get critical about how you evaluate your PR program.

The new year has ushered in dramatic change for Grayling and many of our clients. Gone are the days of iterating on previous programs or “doubling down” on successful initiatives. And with good reason.

We’re in a brave new world. From reinvigorated threats of nuclear war, to #MeToo, to cataclysmic natural phenomena – one thing is clear, we are not the body public that we were a year ago.

And a new culture, demands new approaches.

In our #6into18 trends series, we explore the new cultural and consumer landscape, pulling through the marketing and communication trends that will help brand and corporate communicators achieve the cut-through they crave in 2018.

For most brands, these trends represent a paradigm shift in the way they think about, and approach, PR.

But here’s the rub – if we shift the way we think about, and approach, our programs, then we must be careful also to shift the way we measure those program.

Happily for Grayling and our clients, we have our own Jon Meakin, a respected leader in the field of measurement and seated Board Member of the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) to help design custom metrics that truly measure program efficacy.

For those of you who don’t have daily access to Jon, here are five cardinal rules to help get you on the road to better measurement.

DO Start with your commercial objectives

Your communications need to ladder up to what your business wants to achieve commercially. If you aren’t supporting the business in its path forward, then you aren’t essential. And if you aren’t essential, you’re too expensive to invest in.

DO Assign numbers

Measurement should not be a matter of opinion. Did we hit our KPI is a yes or no answer…but only if you set the KPI up properly. “Increase” is not a number. If your KPI is simply to “increase” something, every person you ask is going to have a different opinion on whether or not you met the goal. By contrast, if the KPI is “increase by 20%” you’re on your way to a much cleaner evaluation.

DON’T co-opt someone else’s metrics

Every business – every campaign even – is unique and demands its own custom set of metrics. You cannot simply take another company’s measurement program and roll it out. Furthermore, any agency that tells you “this is exactly how we measure,” is doing you a disservice. Your value proposition is unique, your pain points are unique and your measurement needs to be unique.

DO create a common lexicon

Everyone needs to have the same definition of key terms such as “top tier.” Make sure that you and your agency are both crystal clear on what does, and does not, constitute a top tier outlet for your product and audience.

DON’T fall into the impressions trap… or worse yet, AVE

It’s very tempting to benchmark against impressions because they are easy to measure and easy to benchmark. But they can also take you down a very bad path. For instance, a mention in The Wall Street Journal will boost your impressions a great deal. But if you’re a private company, not seeking investors, and your product is candy scented silly putty… what is that hit doing for you? Going down the AVE rabbit hole (which a surprising number of organizations still like to do) can be even more dangerous. For more on that, visit the AMEC website.

If you’re picking up what we’re laying down and want more information on how to better measure your program, drop us a line.

Danica Ross is Grayling’s chief client officer.


Danica Ross

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