Establishing Metrics that Matter
A few weeks ago, I was compiling a progress report for a client that covered the entire first half of 2018. For this particular client, we were in charge of media relations, analyst relations and building their social media presence. If you’re outside the PR and marketing world, you might look at that list and think “You’re only measuring three things – What’s the big deal?” And it wouldn’t be a big deal, if measuring media relations progress was as easy as tracking the number of placements, or measuring their social media presence by only tracking follower growth. But it’s not.
The reality is, unless you set specific goals and create metrics that correspond to those goals, you could spend hours over-analyzing metrics that your client could care less about. That’s why I love the approach we take at REQ with our clients – whether it’s a quarterly planning meeting with a long-time client, or a kick-off meeting for a new one, we always make a point to establish goals that map back to why the client hired us in the first place. We call these Destinations.
You’re probably thinking “Gee, thanks for the arbitrary advice that applies to basically every field in the client-services industry.” So instead of wasting time trying to explain what I mean in granular detail, I’ll just walk through what we did with one of our clients. I’ll keep this brief and only focus on media relations for now:
Step 1: New year, New goals, New Metrics
At the start of 2018, we held a 1 hour planning meeting with our client, where they relayed what the big-picture company goals were for the year. In this case – increasing their presence in the commercial space and promoting their new capabilities in the government space, where there presence is already strong, but for older products. From there, we established baseline media relations metrics and then a second tier of specific media metrics that aligned with the client’s two big-picture goals:
Baseline: Increase overall media placements by 20% from the second half of 2017
- Secure two articles focused on topics consistent with the government narrative and press releases
- Secure one article promoting the company’s capabilities in the commercial space
- Secure and develop one authored article/thought leadership piece on the government side – specifically focusing on military and defense publications
- Secure and develop one authored article/thought leadership piece on the commercial side in relevant trade publication
- Secure one piece of business coverage to support [company’s flagship technology] RFI process
Step 2: Execute!
Keeping these specific media relations goals in mind, we developed a PR plan that maximized our efforts and ensured that majority of our time (aka budget) was focused on meeting our metrics. To track our progress, we kept the metrics at the top of our weekly report, which we update before every weekly client meeting (duh). This kept us honest and also reassured the client that our PR efforts were aligned with their marketing efforts.
Step 3: Analyze, Rinse and Repeat
As we neared the end of Q2 and I began to compile our progress report for the 1st half of 2018, there were no surprises. We knew we had met our media relations goals, and more importantly, we knew that these metrics communicated our success to the client. When we held our 2nd half of 2018 planning meeting, we didn’t have to waste a lot of time explaining why “securing X number of placements in publications A, B and C mattered”, they already knew. Instead, we used the time to discuss what success looked like for the rest of 2018: had their big-picture goals changed (yes, slightly)? How can we build off of the media relations goals we’ve achieved? This meeting helped us ensure that not only were their marketing goals and our PR goals aligned, but that our unified efforts continued to support the company’s end goal.
Measuring success in the PR industry can be a difficult task, but if you take the time to understand what the company’s big picture goals are, and how your PR efforts can best support those goals, the metrics will speak for themselves (as long as you meet them).