Embedding a Culture of PR Measurement

A post-event analysis for PR pros.

“What cannot be measured cannot be improved.” – a phrase that had us all nodding in agreement from the very start of yesterday’s ‘Embedding a Culture of Measurement’ webinar. The session kicked off a series of virtual events that make up CARMA’s 2021 Measurement Month. If this first one is anything to go by, we’re in for something truly special.

The beauty of running something like this virtually is being able to invite speakers from further afield, so we were delighted to welcome Ayẹni Adékúnlé, Founder & CEO of Blackhouse Media in Lagos, Nigeria, and Elise Misse, Global Communications Measurement Manager at Philip Morris International. She dialled in from Lausanne, Switzerland. We were also joined by Honda’s Head of European PR Communications, Nik Pearson, as well as CARMA’s own Orla Graham and Jennifer Sanchis.

Making measurement a part of organisational DNA

It’s a big ask. How can we move teams (or entire organisations) away from measurement for the sake of measurement, vanity metrics, and in many cases, too much detail being delivered to the wrong stakeholders or stakeholders receiving data that doesn’t tell the story you want to tell?

The answer across the panel was overwhelmingly unified; start by understanding your audiences. Ask yourself, what do they need? Can you tailor your measurement output to different audiences?

By focussing on measuring what matters, we can be more efficient in our quest to prove the value of PR. Elise illustrated this point perfectly, and we’ve all been there; delivering 20 reports on different measurements of the same objective. (We were charmed but relatively unsurprised to see a quick plug here from Elise for Richard Bagnall’s ‘22 Reasons to Say No to AVES’.

The clear takeaway here: reserve your top line measurements for the board and the c-suite. You can get more granular when somebody in the market wants that, or when you’re using the insights to refine tactics and strategy. 

Tailor. Your. Deliverables.

It’s about culture and comms too

An area of conversation that we were keen to explore with our guests was navigating change. If we want to see a shift in the way that measurement is treated, we need to see a change in culture too. And it’s clear that it starts with communication. I know, ironic, right?

For those firms taking the next step in their measurement journey, becoming output-focussed, connected communicators, a dashboard alone doesn’t communicate your successes. . As the speakers discussed earlier, this is about moving away from padding out content and loading up dashboards (we’ve all done it), and instead, engaging your audience with a narrative through storytelling. We very much enjoyed Elise’s call to arms of “Tell stories and don’t be another printout that ends up in the bin.” After all, as Elise said, “Every person and their dog has a dashboard”. Honda’s Nik Pearson echoed this, reminding us to “Compel the customer.” And how do we do that? We start with objectives in mind. Not just our comms objectives, but our objectives at an organisational level.

CARMA Account Director, Orla Graham, encouraged us to think more of the audience journey. Who are we trying to reach? What must we say to them, and what do we want them to do as a result? It’s our job as storytellers to make it easier for them to draw a line from the numbers that we show them, to what they are trying to achieve. We’re PR professionals, storytelling runs through our veins.

So for many, it’s time to take a brave step away from that dashboard, and put some more ink in the blotter. Storytelling is key, but be strategic with it too, from outputs to outcomes.

Every person and their dog has a dashboard.

To speak we must listen

With so much talk of, well, talking, Ayẹni’s reminder to ‘listen first’ was timely. Only by truly understanding our clients can we address their issues before they become crises. This is particularly relevant to Ayẹni’s work in emerging markets, where society faces issues with the quality of education. Communicators aren’t necessarily communicating academically or intellectually. But by setting clear objectives, we can make it easier for everyone, and later, reflect on what’s working and what’s not. An approach that I am sure we can all take onboard.

In Nik’s work, he finds himself with short windows of opportunity when reporting to his SVP. Therefore, the right approach to measurement is critical. Give them too much data, they just won’t have the time to digest it. Give them too little, and you’ve lost your point. This is a scenario common across many organisations. Leaders are busy and reporting needs to account for this. At Honda, they developed a new framework that moved away from the traditional “Hey, here’s the money we made” headline, and more towards the true reality of what’s actually happening. Who are our messages reaching and how are our customers changing their behaviour based on what we’ve [Honda] done?

Nik’s advice here is key: With so much change happening in measurement programmes, support one another, and explain why one number is better than the other. Let’s move away from “This is just how we’ve always done it” to “This is how we are going to do it, and this is why”. He poignantly asked attendees to think to themselves: 

Do we want a quiet life, or do we want MORE?

Make measurement meaningful

As we reached the end of the webinar, not only did we find agreement across the board that change is needed and is indeed happening, we also found our guests all concluding with reassuringly similar points.

From Nik’s objective-driven approach to Elise’s encouragement to invest in yourself and learn more, or Ayẹni’s call to get the respect that you deserve from your clients by involving them more, we understand that a move away from the jargon, the AVEs (*cringe*) and the over-reliance on dashboards is essential. 

So how do we embed a culture of PR measurement?

We start small (dare we say it, less can be more), we understand that we need to monitor what matters, and we commit to that change that sees us measuring and reporting what matters, at every level. And in doing so, we demonstrate the true value of public relations and communications. As we grow teams and bring on new talent, this refreshed way of working will be the norm. As we find better ways to show the right data to busy VPs and audiences too, we set a better standard and gain a stronger reputation.

The holy grail? To have people literally asking you for data. Because they know what they will get from you is exactly what they want and need. Oh ho ho, isn’t it a great feeling when a senior colleague asks that question?

Put shortly, make your measurement meaningful.

You can now watch a replay of this webinar.

Speak with one of our experienced consultants about your media monitoring and communications evaluation today.