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eliminate bad PR metrics, outdated PR metricsPR measurement requires selecting appropriate metrics, but sometimes you need to do the opposite and eliminate unsuitable metrics.

As staff members and others stakeholders suggest media metrics to track, the number of metrics can balloon over time. A cumbersome number of metrics is time consuming to track, report and analyze. Too many media intelligence metrics create a haze that makes it more difficult to concentrate on the few metrics that can generate helpful insights and actionable recommendations.

If you’ve done PR measurement for a while, you probably have metrics that deserve to be eliminated. They may be obsolete, irrelevant and sometimes even harmful. Your analytics staff may be buried in data that’s useless.

Not all Data is Helpful

“Not all data is helpful,” says Lars Lofgren, KISSmetrics marketing analyst. “Some of it is worse than worthless because it tricks us into believing we have answers when we don’t. But when you focus on data that helps you make decisions, everything else in your business gets easier.”

That’s why good PR measurement practice calls for periodically reviewing current metrics with an eye toward pruning. You can follow these steps to eliminate the unnecessary and inappropriate ones.

Re-evaluate your PR measurement. Take a step back and reassess what you’re measuring. Ideally, re-evaluation is done once a year, but a new CEO offers an opportune time for re-examination, points out PR measurement expert Katie Paine. Convincing all stakeholders to drop familiar metrics, even if they’re not useful, may be difficult. “But trust me, everyone will be happier to see five meaningful metrics, as opposed to 105 numbers that no one knows what to do with.” Paine asserts.

Drop the worst metrics from reports and see if anyone notices. You can always add them back into your reports, but if no one complains or even notices, they probably aren’t worth tracking, Paine says.

Ax metrics not linked to business objectives. A common PR measurement error is picking metrics that don’t connect to business goals and objectives. Use metrics that show how PR helps increase sales leads, reduce costs, attract visitors or customers, boost conversion or support other business objectives.

Avoid vanity metrics. Numbers of Twitter followers and Facebook likes are easy to report and boost the ego, but they don’t help improve business results. “We only have so much time in the day,” Lofgren says. Every minute counts so don’t waste any looking at metrics that don’t help you. Focus on metrics that matter and ditch the vanity metrics.

Seek actionable metrics. “It all comes down to one thing: Does the metric help you make decisions? When you see the metric, do you know what you need to do?” Lofgren says. Ask yourself if it helps you take action and make decisions. If doesn’t, drop it.

Ask yourself “So what?” “That is, if this metric shows X, what will I do about it? What about Y? If you can’t answer that question, consider not collecting this metric,” recommends Igor Altman, senior direct of project management at Medidata Solutions.

Avoid inappropriate comparisons. Companies often compare themselves to the wrong competitors. “The most common mistake I see is a brand comparing themselves with the biggest brand in their industry, even though their brand is much smaller and serves a completely different group of clients,” says Kim Do at Lewis, a PR agency. Compare your organization to competitors in the same geographical locations, in the same vertical markets or those seeking the same media audience.

Use an appropriate media monitoring and analytics dashboard. Many PR measurement dashboards include inappropriate metrics for both PR and marketing. Seek a media analytics dashboard such as Glean.info that integrates all media (online, print, broadcast, social, and owned including the organization’s website) and that allows you to customize metrics to measure the impact of PR and marketing on your organization’s specific goals.

Bottom Line: Many PR teams tend to track and analyze too many metrics. And many are outdated or unhelpful and consume precious time and energy. Dropping bad metrics can help PR focus on just a handful of key meaningful metrics can bring clarity to PR measurement.

William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.