MakovskyFriday, June 17, 2016
Early public relations practitioners would have a hard time recognizing much of what we do today. Social media management, content creation, infographic building, blogger relations – all would be foreign to the PR person of old. But there is one item they’re sure to recognize: impressions.
Despite all the communications advancements that we’ve seen in recent years, much of how we measure PR success has remained the same. We count clips, note impressions, and tout unique monthly visitor figures. It’s understandable why that’s the case. These are the figures that are most often available and, perhaps more importantly, recognizable to the C-suite members that communications teams report to.
We can do better though. At last week’s Institute of Public Relations (IPR)-PRIME Research conference, a lot of the discussion focused on moving impressions from the starring to supporting role. Rather than making impressions number the beginning, middle and end of program success, it should be one part of the analytics mix that informs iterative changes to our campaigns. By rethinking how we use impressions in reporting, we can better identify when a strategy is being truly successful or if we need to pivot to another approach.
- Context is king. You read that correctly. Context is key. Too often impressions figures are provided without context. So we had 5 million impressions – is that good? Is that high? Low? Were they all positive? Were they in outlets that reach our target audience? Clear context is what moves impressions from data points to actual insights.
- Forget data FOMO. Content overload isn’t limited to our social media feeds. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of dashboards and apps and desktop analytics tools, all built to tell us something a little different about our PR conversations. Data gathering could become your entire job if you give in to the temptation to gather every data stream. Instead we need identify and focus in on the measurements that matter most to our clients and their campaigns.
- Data is real-time too. We’re all used to talking about the 24/7 news cycle, with global teams pitching clients around the clock across a variety of channels. While campaigns are running at full-speed, our analytics and impressions reporting are often running…. well behind. Too often, analytics and measurements are offered up too late to make any meaningful difference to our work. While there will always be a bit of a lag in order to assure accuracy, it’s important to build in near real-time checkpoints for reviewing data that could have a real impact on our campaigns.
- Turn insight into action. The most powerful data analytics system in the world means very little if there’s not a process in place to take those insights and turn them into actions. PR teams must work closely with decision-makers to review insights, analyze evolving risks and opportunities, and finally, make changes as appropriate to campaign strategies and tactics.
Perhaps one day soon, public relations will move away from impressions entirely. But until that day comes, we can make sure that we are using them in ways that positively impact our campaign efforts. From near-meaningless figures to actual strategic insights? Count me in.
-Glorimar Perez, Vice President, Makovsky