The new year is a great time to take stock of your measurement programs: looking at what has worked in the past, and what might need to be adjusted for the coming year. That can mean correcting for changes within an industry, such as product advancements or regulatory changes, or modifying a program to address internal corporate fluctuations, such as staffing changes or budget adjustments.
Whatever might have happened over the course of 2022, here are some ideas on where to start when setting measurement objectives for the coming year.
Step one: taking stock of where you are now
For any measurement process, the first step you must take is a frank assessment of the current status of your programs. Maybe some aspects of your measurement program have become less important, while others have grown in significance. Perhaps staff changes have left gaps you need to fill or address somehow. Or, maybe everything is going right and you simply need to make sure that you’re ready with appropriate resources.
Take a look at your measurement data from each quarter of the prior year, and then examine the year as a whole. Note any key trends in your metrics—was volume up, down, or flat? How much did sentiment and tone vary? Are there any spikes that you can’t immediately identify the cause of off the top of your head? If you track for it, how did your organization’s share of voice fare over the course of 2022?
Step two: identifying gaps and opportunities
What did you miss last year? Were there story ideas you might have missed for your company or clients? Were there publications that covered competitors, but didn’t cover your firm? Are there journalists who covered the industry that you feel should have covered your company?
Missing out on possible opportunities happens for a variety of reasons, but figuring out why you missed out means you are more likely to capitalize on what comes your way in the future. Taking time to critically examine what was missed allows you to plug those gaps in your measurement program.
Step three: take note of updates and changes
Talk to your colleagues—are there updates or changes in business goals? Measurement programs can be simple or complex, but the one thing they have in common is that issues rarely remain stagnant. From the very basics of monitoring to the hard work of analysis, when business goals change your measurement must too.
Take a look at the workflow of your measurement program, from keywords in your monitoring through to the quarterly analysis performed. It’s very unlikely that nothing has changed. If you’re monitoring for leadership mentions, have there been any changes in roles or titles? If you’re performing analysis on share of voice, what changes have competitors made that might be relevant, such as acquisitions or mergers?
Internal changes including product introductions, leadership, and new business goals need to be considered when you are revising a measurement program. External shifts, such as new entrants to the market or competitors that have restructured their businesses also need to be adjusted for when setting objectives.
Rapid changes in the media industry are also worth paying attention to, particularly in mainstream outlets. Journalists who covered the stories relevant to your industry a year or two years ago may well be with different publications now.
Step four: review business goals
Your organization’s business goals might not change much from year to year, but taking the step of reviewing them is important for a few reasons.
One, even if the business’s goals remain fairly static, PR changes. For example, journalists change jobs, publications change sections, social media platforms evolve—which means reaching audiences via those outlets will need to change too, and taking the time to examine this each year should help to prevent getting stuck in a rut with diminishing returns.
Two, reviewing business goals provides a fresh opportunity to see how PR measurement can help to contribute to reaching those goals. This is where real progress is made—and, it’s how many PR departments are judged on their value, so think creatively and broadly to see how PR can help quantify these goals.
Three, even if the goals are the same, your organization and the world outside are constantly changing. So, even if “reaching new customers in X region” is an ongoing goal, messaging might need to be adjusted—and, if messaging is adjusted, your measurement process might need to be updated as well.
In summation—reviewing business goals and tying PR measurement to them is not a “set and forget” process, it’s an ongoing one.
Step five: pulling it all together
Now that you have information in front of you that identifies what went right, what might have been missed, and updated business goals and objectives, you can set objectives for your 2023 programs that are informed by data.
Revise and update keywords and search terms, and review any targeted media outreach lists you may have. Determine which outlets are priority publications, and verify that contacts at industry publications are still there—or, research to find out where they’ve moved.
If business goals have changed, review your analysis process to see if anything needs to be adjusted. You don’t want to find out several months into a measurement program that the software wasn’t correctly calibrated to assess sentiment after a goal change, for example.
How to determine when it’s time to get help
If your organization has undergone a major change or you feel as though additional expertise is necessary, it might be time to call in reinforcements. Measurement programs depend on accuracy and if there’s too much for one person (or even a small team) to tackle, that’s when it makes sense to engage experts who can help.
This help can come in many forms, from doing the work of adjusting the criteria you are measuring for, to assisting with measurement goals, all the way to completing analysis and providing “ready for the C-Suite” reports.
Since measurement can provide so much clarity on what is working for a communications and PR program and what is not, having the right data is critical. Knowing when you have the right information available and when you might need assistance in uncovering what is important is essential to having a measurement program that will yield results.