Please Kill The ‘PR Isn’t Measurable’ Myth


Semil Shah recently shared a post on TechCrunch on the value of PR. Most of our readers here don’t need to be persuaded on this, so the post isn’t likely new territory for you. However one bit from the post deserves a response (emphasis mine):

…the work of public relations, or “PR,” is the dark art that’s impossible to measure, the craft of indirectly encouraging or persuading the crowd to seemingly engage in organic chatter about something, to somehow become a natural part of an ongoing conversation that, over time, incepts the audience to become, somewhat unknowingly, evangelists for a certain point of view. It’s Don Draper with a splash of Dominick Cobb.

Perhaps Semil has had the unfortunate experience working with a PR firm that didn’t deliver a results dashboard or even include metrics / goals in their agreement. But as I’ve noted in previous posts, data is everyone’s domain and all specializations of marketing and PR can get to conversion.

We’ve also shared several posts on web analytics for PR, many smart analysts have developed PR dashboards, and people like KD Paine continue to push the industry to measure what they do. There aren’t excuses here not to measure both activity with results. If I reported measurable digital marketing and PR KPIs and outcomes while on the agency-side for more than 6 years, so can your brand’s agency, consultant or in house professional.

If the value your PR delivers is questionable this is the fault of the people working on your PR program, not the specialization (which is quite potent). We have the tools and talent to develop a measurement process. We can educate stakeholders (either clients or internal managers) on what digital metrics mean. We can create goals that push our teams. We can develop our analysis skills to understand what PR tactics work best and how to improve them. It’s simply choosing to do it and be an accountable public relations professional.

image credit: Shutterstock