How to Decide What to Measure in PR

Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Over the years of learning from her work, one of the most helpful has been her ability to create meaningful checklists.

Which way should I go?You can’t measure everything, so what do you measure?

One of the hardest parts of public relations measurement or social media measurement is to determine what you should measure. How do you determine what really matters to your business or organization?

This checklist will help you do that. It guides you through preliminary information gathering, meetings, and survey research to help you understand what is most important to your company or organization, and what is most important to your audience(s). What is most important to measure will be what drives your audience(s) or customers to act. So work through the following to figure out what matters, and what the best way is to measure it.

The 4 “What Matters?” Questions You Need to Answer

Remember, the point of the following research, and the experience you gain in planning and carrying it out, is to help you to answer these four questions:

1. What is most important to your company or organization?

2. What is most important to your audience(s)?

3. What drives your audience(s) or customers to act?

4. What is the best way to measure it?

 The How-to-Decide-What-to-Measure Checklist

1. Learn the Lay of the Land

__ Read up on your market, your marketplace, and really get to know the competition.

__ Check in with marketing, sales, business development, market research, and the customer intelligence group to get a clear and current list of market forces, as well as key customers and competitors.

__ Make a list of specific influencers including people, events, and issues.

__ Work through “10 Questions Every Communications Professional Must Be Able to Answer” and bring the ones you can’t answer to the meeting below.

2. Get Everyone On the Same Page

__ Set up a meeting of everyone you will work with on your measurement project or that you will report to.

__ Set the agenda for the meeting, including:

  1. Brainstorm influences on your customers and your marketplace, including people, issues, trends, and market forces
  2. Define and prioritize all key stakeholders
  3. Define measurable and tangible goals
  4. Define what/who you will be benchmarking your results against
  5. Define the Key Performance Indicators that you will report on

__ At the meeting, achieve consensus on the five points above.

__ Summarize the meeting in a document that includes the Key Performance Indicators that you will be reporting on and the Dashboard of charts or tables that you will need to present. 

__ Get sign off on those KPIs and the Dashboard.

3. Prepare to Do Preliminary Research
(All of the following will not necessarily pertain to your particular situation.)

__ Based on the KPIs, make a list of the data you will need to report on.

__ Select a web analytic and/or CRM tool.

__ Create one or more unique URLs and landing pages so you can directly tie web activity to results.

__ Make a list of the engagement data you will need, including some of the following: 

  • Unique visitors
  • Repeat visitors
  • Length of time on site
  • Click-throughs
  • Registrations
  • Conversions
  • Make a list of the sales/lead data you will need 
  • Number of registrations
  • Number of leads
  • Number of qualified leads
  • Number of appointments made
  • Number of proposals delivered
  • Number of sales
  • Market share 
  • Value of sales 
  • Average profit per sale 
  • Cost of social media program 

__ Talk to whoever within your organization manages the website and collects web data to determine what data you already have or can collect.

__ Decide if you need any additional tools.

__ Create an RFP for web data collection and analysis. 

__ Select a survey tool.

__ Make a list of audiences you need to survey.

__ Determine if there is a list (of names) available in-house. Do you need to purchase a list?

__ Make a list of any perception data you will need, including:

  • Awareness
  • Perception
  • Preference
  • Consideration
  • Trust level
  • Commitment level
  • Satisfaction level
  • Exchange/Communal relationship level 
  • Control mutuality level 

__ Draft a list of questions to which you need answers. 

__ Identify a professional expert, academic, or internal or external partner to create and test your survey questionnaire(s).

__ Provide your list of questions to the expert.

__ Review the proposed questionnaire(s).

__ Test the proposed questionnaire(s).

4. Do Preliminary Research

__ Field the survey.

__ Review the crosstabs to make sure you have the data you need.

5. Analyze & Report Results

__ Analyze the results and draw conclusions.

__ Put all relevant data into a KPI table.

__ Look for significant failures: Where did a program not deliver?

__ Look for exceptional successes.

__ Drill down into the data to determine cause and effect.

__ Pull most relevant charts and data into a PowerPoint presentation.

__ Report results and make recommendations.



6. Decide What Matters

Use your results and the experience of this preliminary research to answer the 4 “What Matters?” questions.