How do you measure success?

Some PR people might not agree with me on this. And others might agree but find it tough to convince their clients to follow through.

What I hope we can all agree on, and act upon consistently as a profession, is the need to regularly measure the outcomes of our PR activities. Measurement is an absolutely essential tool in any strategic communications toolkit. Not an add-on, or an after-thought, measurement should be hard-wired directly into each and every strategic plan we write for our clients.

Measuring outcomes requires having a clear idea, from the get-go, about what you’re trying to accomplish through PR. It means establishing a do-able way to monitor results, at the very outset of the communications process, and it means following through at the end to see if you reached your goal. Ideally, measures will allow you to calculate how much it cost to achieve that goal. And if you don’t reach your goal, a measure will allow you to improve next time.

There is always a way to measure, whether it’s an increase in sales, an improvement in stakeholder engagement, a shift in customer attitude, a response to a call to action. Just as there is no one-size-fits-all outcome, there is no universal way to measure a successful outcome. It’s up to us, and our clients, to get creative and keep focused.

The International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) has developed some great guidelines that are not only practical but will also help to build more credibility into the practice of PR. I find them really useful and straight-forward. See http://prguidetomeasurement.org.

As practitioners, our challenge is to practice our profession using all kinds of instruments — some new, some old — remembering that the outcomes of any PR investment are only as good as the measurement we build into each strategy.