AMEC Measurement Month for 2019 has just passed, and PR folks are still exploring options to bring transparency in measurement metrics and their methodology. Metrics play a significant role in PR measurement, and when derived with a valid methodology offer greater insights to PR executives. Each metric represents a logical way to answer a question about an organization's media coverage. So, to consider a metric for your PR strategy measurement, first understand the metric, learn how it behaves, the underlying question answered, and how the results help to enhance your organization's PR tactic.
Uniform measurement practices benefit everyone in the industry including PR clients. I believe there should be a standardized approach in evaluating metrics. Though, identifying an appropriate and robust metric methodology may be challenging, it’s well worth the effort. Here are my few recommendations to standardize and evolve the PR measurement practices.
Every media measurement company has its own way of identifying a metric. Some methodologies are even classified and not shared with their clients. Shockingly, there is no definitive measurement industry consensus so far, declaring which approach is the correct one. This prompts companies to adopt their own obscure methodologies to calculate metrics. These unstable methodologies often use multipliers which don’t make any sense at all and are designed with a sole purpose of generating client-pleasing values. As a result, there will always be huge variations in the final measurement values derived from various companies — which should be changed.
Scoring Metrics Using Humans
The situation becomes even worse when companies use automation for scoring metrics. With the automated approach, speed and scalability might be a plus. But, as metric scoring relies on predefined algorithms, automation remains largely ineffective for media measurement.
“The automated software tends to look only at the words expressed in the story and cannot understand its context, thus failing tremendously.”
However, in human measurement, accuracy and quality are the main outcomes, backed by definitive and explainable methodology. Thus, human-based analysis still proves to be best approach for scoring metrics and produce correct measurement values. Read my detailed blog on how human brain outshines automated tools in media monitoring and measurement.
Prefer Genuine Metrics
There are many reliable metrics that are simple to understand and easy to deliver added value. Many metrics like sentiment, key topics, coverage trend, key message penetration, and competitor benchmarking offer greater insights without relying any unrealistic inputs. If these metrics are used to calculate in-depth metrics like presence, impact score and prominence, the output will be more real and accurate. But, instead of using these real metrics, many companies prefer abstruse metrics and multipliers which devalue the original results. Nowadays, measurement companies likely to follow the same computation practice which other companies execute, with no accuracy assessment.
Avoid Vanity Metrics and AVE
Vanity metrics are the metrics which are believed to be important, but actually they are not. These metrics are not performance indicators, and are eventually meaningless, worse, and misleading. Even today, the usage of vanity metrics such as views, reach, and impressions remain in practice. Everyone should understand that vanity metrics can be easily manipulated, and they don’t correlate with bottom-line PR goals.
Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) is another misleading metric used to measure media value of earned media by comparing it to advertising of similar size and placement. According to the 2020 ICCO World PR Report, nearly half of industry leaders around the world continue to use AVE. AVEs have no insights at all and don’t offer any real value on the impact of your media campaign. Unfortunately, companies still use this outdated metric in their reports and dashboards. Perhaps it’s time to completely remove AVE and vanity metrics from the PR measurement.
Enhance the Value You Offer
Charts are the easiest and more comprehensible way to showcase metric results. Though, PR folks love their dashboard filled with charts — whether or not they offer useful insights — limited charts with added value is enough to gain necessary insights of their media campaign.
“Measurement isn’t about showing numerous charts in your reports or dashboard. It’s about offering the best value to clients via those charts.”
To keep everything simple, do measurement smart and easy. Try not to show those fancy charts just to fill up the room. Such charts offer less value to clients and are difficult to understand as well. More appropriate metrics and better designed charts help PR executives effectively recognize the impact of their media campaigns and demonstrate PR’s value to their overall organization.
Putting Things Together…
Many PR folks are confused with the usage of metrics. They are also expected to show solid results to their stakeholders. So, for robust measurement and evaluation of PR activities, media measurement companies should unite and establish a common dedicated practice to evaluate each metric. This helps every measurement company to identify the way to deliver more qualified results to their PR clients.
Let’s put aside those practices which are inaccurate and don’t propose any clear-cut contribution to the PR plan. Gone are the days of evaluating campaigns by counting clips and determining their AVE values. Deriving in-depth metrics from real metrics is the way to the future. It’s also evident that with the growing integration of machine learning into media measurement software, the accuracy of automated tools will only improve over time. So, using human expertise to evaluate PR metrics is the only best option to go for.