Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

An Annual Check-Up for Your Measurement Program

 

You have an annual physical, a yearly car inspection, and regular dental visits. But how often do you proactively review your media measurement and PR evaluation programs?

If you’re like many communicators, you may have a “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to media monitoring and analysis.

It’s not uncommon for an organization to create goals, establish metrics, and schedule reporting only when changing vendors or when new leadership comes on board.

To get the most out of your measurement program, however, it makes sense to conduct a thorough review every year.

 

Review Your Goals

You can’t measure properly if you don’t know what you want to achieve. That’s why every evaluation program must start with business and communications goals.

Individual and group KPI’s often get set every year, so it’s important to examine these and determine if any of them will drive changes to your measurement efforts.

Think carefully about what you are trying to achieve and how you may need to adjust your goals from one year to the next.

Metrics Flow from Goals

Once you know where you want to go, you can examine the metrics that will help you determine if you are following the correct path.

Start this process by looking at the metrics that you have been using in the past.

Ask yourself the following questions:

 

How well did your existing metrics do at tracking your progress?

  • Is your overall assessment of your communications success in line with what the metrics are telling you?
  • Are there things that your existing metrics are missing?
  • If you looked at your metrics from 12-18 months ago, how well did they do at helping you anticipate where you are today?
  • What changes have you made to your communications efforts based on the metrics you received in the past?

This final question is perhaps the most critical one. If your measurement and evaluation program isn’t driving you to make adjustments to your communications strategy and tactics, then what are you really achieving?

 

Timing of Reports Matters

Are you getting too many reports? Or too few? How do you know?

If you are going to make decisions based on the data you receive from media monitoring and analysis, then you need to be getting that information in a timely fashion.

Your reporting cadence must be tailored to your organization and its unique needs.

If you have quarterly board meetings and want to include a review of earned media results, then your reports need to be scheduled to allow sufficient time to compile meaningful insights while still delivering timely analysis.

Some data may need to be assessed more frequently to drive tactical adjustments, while other reports may be required less frequently to assist with strategic planning.

How well did the timing of your reports work last year? Were you able to get your daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual needs met?

 

Process Drives Reporting

Whether you do your reporting in-house, through your PR agency, or with a third-party partner, the process you follow matters.

As you perform your annual check-up, you should look at the process to ensure that it is well-suited to producing timely, accurate reports.

Consider whether the process leaves you scrambling to get the reports done on time and if it achieves the level of accurate you need to make smarter decisions.

In recent years, many organizations have sought to speed up analysis by using more technological automation in the process. If you have become more reliant on high-tech solutions, is it maintaining the level of accuracy you require?

It is not uncommon for someone to take a deep dive into automation and then back off a bit to balance it with human expertise to achieve better results.

 

Data Forms the Foundation

No process, schedule, or metrics can overcome bad data.

As your communications program evolves, so must the data that you analyze.

Most PR evaluation and media measurement programs rely on a mixture of broad-brush monitoring and targeted reading lists for more in-depth analysis.

The scope of your monitoring data must be carefully assessed each year to ensure that your targeted publications haven’t changed as your product mix grows, your communications goals change, and your business priorities evolve.

With social networks ebbing and flowing on a regular basis, and as traditional media continues to undergo dramatic changes, your data needs will almost certainly change from year to year.

If you find gaps, plug them. If you are collecting data you don’t use (and don’t need), then stop it (and hopefully save some money to reinvest elsewhere).

Update Your Prescriptions

Once you complete your check-up, be sure to update your recipe for success.

Figure out what changes need to be made and how you want to make them.

Determine if your current solutions – both internal and external – are the right ones given the adjustments that you are making.

Communicate the relevant changes to your executive leadership and the communications team. You want to ensure that everyone is on the same page and fully engaged with your measurement and evaluation efforts.

After you complete your first annual check-up, subsequent ones will become easier because you will have created a repeatable process for evaluating every aspect of the process. Then you just need to put it on the calendar and be sure to follow through every year.

 

 

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