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Measuring efforts and evaluating outcomes: Why Public Relations and ‘data’ should be better friends – Torchia Communications
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Measuring efforts and evaluating outcomes: Why Public Relations and ‘data’ should be better friends

Measuring efforts and evaluating outcomes: Why Public Relations and ‘data’ should be better friends

 

How does one quantify one’s efforts, particularly, when these efforts might be considered intangible and therefore, to some, not easily linked to the bottom line?

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of attending a seminar on measurement in Public Relations run by a panel of accredited Public Relations professionals from the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS). After an hour and half of back-and-forth and Q&As between speakers and curious members of the audience, I would like to share some thoughts and takeaways from the informative session.

It’s time for us to evaluate what it means to measure our efforts in the field of Public Relations.

It should come as no surprise that our modern age is wrought with an abundance of data at our disposal—some hard data, soft data—data of a myriad of varieties which begs to be used, understood, summarized and articulated. After all, an Antarctic ice cube is just a darn ice cube unless it’s in the context of research regarding the melting point of Antarctic ice in the dreary face of global warming. It’s of little use to us without context and a method of giving the data meaning.

Research and analytics contain a niche, yet invaluable role in Public Relations, which is why it’s beneficial for communicators to build relationships with researchers and analysts pursuing common objectives. Doing so would lead to uncovering innovative ways of making sense of data and relating them back to campaign efforts.

During the seminar, I should note I was concerned in learning about how some departments hesitate to speak to one another within bigger organizations.

For Public Relations to thrive, the barriers between communicators, researchers and analysts must shatter for each party to harvest a proper understanding of each other’s relationship with data. Only then can an organization’s story be told effectively, and feedback generated naturally.

In a way, data is storytelling. Here is how I see it:

Stories and Research… what is the relationship?

  1. Research creates material
  2. Material creates evidence/proof points
  3. Proof points supports ideas
  4. Ideas become stories
  5. And stories generate more data, which becomes, once again, research

Public relations is renowned for its long-term benefits due to the field’s focus on relationship and reputation building – and protection. A core facet of PR resides in how we convey the meaning behind our work – how do we measure our outcomes after hours of commitment to a challenging yet rewarding campaign?

Do we look at:

  • The number of total unique visitors for a piece of coverage?
  • The click through rate of last week’s social media post?
  • Or even the amount of attention brought to a social cause because of a hashtag we’ve promoted through content we’ve curated?

It, truly, truly depends, which is why those analyzing data and those working in communications should be, in simple terms, ‘best buds’.

Ultimately, it’s important for communicators and data experts to share a symmetrical understanding of each other’s purpose in order to determine what should be measured, and why it impacts their client or organization.