3 PR metrics you shouldn’t measure

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Not all metrics are equal. The three on this list aren’t worth your time.

By Christopher Penn | Posted: September 24, 2014

We often speak of PR and marketing metrics. In our obsession with what to measure, we don’t often ask what we shouldn’t measure.

The answer might surprise you. There are a lot of things you shouldn’t measure—at least not with the same intensity and focus. Not all metrics are created equal.

1. Don’t measure what you can’t control.

Measuring lead generation is out of the purview of PR pros. Measuring sales is largely disconnected from public relations.

You do, however, have control over which publications and influencers you contact, whether they run your story, and the audience you create for your organization or client.

For example, you could run an amazing awareness campaign for a coffee shop that gets tremendous coverage, but if the coffee shop is closed, all that attention won’t produce sales. Failing to be open isn’t your fault, and your efforts produced the desired result: more attention, awareness and action. It’s just that the rest of the business process fell apart.

2. Don’t measure what you don’t intend to act on.

Every metric is implicitly paired with an action or series of actions. You can welcome followers on Twitter, or present new website visitors with great content. If you don’t plan to take those actions, why waste time, energy and resources measuring things you won’t change? Marketing Writer Seth Godin said it well: What’s the point of checking the scale if you have no plans to change your weight or health?

3. Don’t measure things that don’t measure anything .

This applies to metrics that either have misleading meanings (ad value equivalence) or no meaning (passive impressions). In both cases there are almost certainly better, more meaningful metrics available.

Take a hard look at everything you measure, and see if you have metrics in any of these categories. If you do, immediately search for better, more impactful metrics. Your marketing communications strategy will thank you.

Christopher Penn is the vice president of marketing technology at Shift Communications. A version of this article originally appeared on the Shift Communications blog. 

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