Struggle #3 My Strategy is Too Hard to Measure

50% of people say that their strategy is too hard to measure.

It’s not much of a strategy if that’s true.  It’s been interesting to watch PR pros in the last decade.  Social media insisted you be short and direct with messages.  (My blog articles are usually under 300 words for you.) You should also be short and direct when you ask, “What does success look like?”    Your strategy has a tangible outcome.  It’s not about trying, it’s about doing.  The outcomes are measurable but you might need to collaborate to demonstrate your valuable part in the success.  That’s where some of you get overwhelmed.  We can help. Continue reading

Struggle #2: Even pros don’t know how to approach and implement measurement.

80% of PR professionals don’t measure because they don’t know where to begin.  Even if someone hands them some metrics (the raw building blocks of measurement), they might not have an approach for making it useful.

If you wanted to measure the path from your door to your car, you could use a tape measure or a yardstick.  If the path had direction changes in it, you’d measure each length and add them together to get a final answer.  If the path has a curve, you’d add its circumference.  If the path includes taking the elevator, you’d add in the height between floors.  Summed, they are a single and final answer to the question, “How far will I travel to reach my car?”

Media measurement is no different. Useful answers come from integrating your metrics together to arrive at knowledge.  Your approach should include gathering impressions, costs, and outcomes (sales, savings, actions).  Your implementation is a resulting equation to answer the question, “How effective was my activity?”  Knowing how things compare gives you insight for being more and more effective over time.

Comment if you are stumped about approaching your metrics and calculating your final answer.  I can help.

#1 Struggle: “People can’t find meaningful measurement.”

What does it mean?  One study found that the number one reason that people struggle with measurement is that they can’t get meaningful measurement.  Supposedly, it’s true for any industry, organization or endeavor.   It’s certainly true for people who invested in “canned” dashboards.

To get meaning from your measurement, you need a little help at the right time.  You know more than you think about what would be meaningful.

Here’s a few tips for getting to meaningful measurement.

  1. Involve a measurement expert from the start (not after the fact).
  2. Use data to set measurable goals for what success means to you.
  3. Measure before, during and after an effort.
  4. Conclude with answering these questions…
    • Did I reach my goal?
    • What happened and why?
    • What does it mean?
    • What will I do about it?

Keep it simple, but get the help of a measurement partner to make it easy and meaningful.

Measure well!  No excuses.

Debi Parcheta


Image Courtesy of Creative Commons Flickr, Author:  chetbox

Comment below: What does this heat map view of a face mean?  People struggle with measurement because they need meaning.

Why Struggling Brands Need to Measure Most

Are you struggling to improve media relations for a declining brand?

Failing brands need media measurement most of all.  Measuring can determine if a brand has forgotten its values.  Or we could measure to see if a brand is overestimating its own importance.  Some brands are guilty of branching out too far and measurement can tell you if people view your brand as being in the wrong category or if they think a brand is behaving deceptively.  Fatigue can be readily measured when a brand fails to be creative or innovative.

For many brands, failure coincides with not measuring at all – you weren’t watching what was happening.   Brands must stay relevant.  They need to measure consumer patterns, competitor positions, market evolution, and cultural trends.

This sort of measurement doesn’t need to be complicated.  Look around periodically.  Train yourself to use data to develop insights to lift your struggling brand up again.

Happy to help.

Let’s talk about being insightful.
Debi Parcheta, BlueVision® Media Measurement


Lurk and Learn

The smartest PR pros know that they have to take a magnifying glass and have a look around … often.  If you are not watching the competition or consumer conversations, how can you differentiate messaging or position your brand to build relationships?

It’s easier than ever to lurk where consumers and competitors are vocal.  You don’t need to make it a big project.  In 5 minutes a day, you can check up on just 2 media channels to take the pulse of competing brands and trends.  Your 5 minutes are best spent on

  1. tweets (where hashtags can be easily used to compile current conversations) and
  2. online news (where brands and influencers make news and recommendations).

Spend your 5 minutes in a simple routine.

3 minutes – Search and read. With simple media monitoring tools you can see a list of media coverage, sometimes with photos or videos included.  Shown here:  DASH Hound, a BlueVision® tool for finding tweets and news.  (Try it for free….)

1 minute – Use a notebook or a spreadsheet to jot down what is dominating this day’s conversations and news. Note the things that are most repeated.  Note any emotion or intention.  Note innovation, events and collaborations.  If you routinely do this, you will spot new trends right when they start.

1 minute – Share one or two of the most interesting stories with others.  Be a resource for your boss, your colleagues or your clients.   Cut and paste a few representative articles into an email and pass it along.




Also a good read….

Businesses need to spend more time watching their backs and looking at what their competitors are up to, according to market research expert Stephen Phillips.




Integration is the data “hack” of the decade.

We’ve reached an age where data is everywhere!   BUT… really useful, accurate and appropriate analytics are still a long way from being at the right people’s fingertips. It’s not a slick dashboard that gets you there. You have to do better than that.

The “hack”?  It’s simply gathering data from different sources into one model or system (referred to as integrating data) and inferring or deducing new knowledge or competitive advantage from the soup that they become when you throw them together into one pot.   Computer programming and mathematical training and the tools, experience and knowledge that you already have can be used in very creative ways to integrate data, many times more quickly than you think.

What are the things that keep us from hacking analytics in every industry?
•    Territorialism:  People don’t share data well.  Collaboration is what sets our species apart from others, but we still don’t fully embrace it.  Try to think more like a barterer.
•    Money: Data collection and analysis is an ongoing investment, not a whim. Do a cost/benefit exercise – most analytics are worth the price tag but there should be a return on your investment.
•    Time (commitment): Most analytics need to be ongoing – showing change over time.  You’ve failed if you start but don’t continue to analyze for actionable insights or build on your initial findings.
•    Vision:  It’s one thing to look at analytics.  It’s another to imagine how the results move your mission into the future.  Be a thinker.

None of those roadblocks are new.  In fact, they are age-old people problems.  We stand in our own way a lot.


Photo thanks:

Flickr Creative Commons, Jess (Paleo Grubs):





Why are you letting the digital ad guys steal your lunch money?

What?!  The room was instantly a little more awake.  The presenter on the stage had just implied that the PR practitioners in the room were weak or bullied or both.  Truth hurts.


Last year, buying paid posts on social platforms satisfied the battle cry for IMPRESSIONS where other media buys were slowing.  PR professionals were less familiar with targeting and buying media so the digital ad guys DID swoop in and convince the C-suite that buying impressions was all that mattered.

Technology and social media has blurred the edges between PR and marketing functions.   But it’s given them each advantages too – targeting, easy delivery of visual and video content, and more instant connections with consumers (good and bad).

Some folks forget that one hand washes the other.   Public relations is about selling the company or brand through positively managing many communication channels between a company and its stakeholders.  Marketing is about achieving direct revenue.

PR practitioners should be using measurement and insights to drive a positive reputation.  Every brand needs to engage their consumers to develop insights about authenticity and trust.  More than ever, we need to earn customer loyalty.  The R in PR is for relations

Social media platforms give us all the data we need to relate well.  Let’s measure the consumers’ relationship (engagement) with our brand to find ways to make it stronger.  Let’s measure what emerging brands are doing to win the relationship with consumers.   And let’s start measuring what our competitors are doing again.
Photo by David Goehring


I’m Rusting….


Recently, an experienced public relations practitioner confessed, “I’m soooo rusty!  Social media execution, content creation and quick looks at dashboards have robbed me of the ability to recommend actionable insights to my brand.”

Rust can be cleaned off.  We can teach PR professionals to shine with insights again.  It’s a skill.  In 4 – 8 hours, you could learn to use social media posts to bring insights to your brand.

Our colleague is right to be sad.  Many public relations professionals have been reduced to simply purchasing social or digital impressions for their brand.  They declare a victory when the dashboard metric goes up.  There’s a lot less activity designed to develop lasting relationships with consumers or to gain insights into how that relationship is changing with emerging trends and upstart brands.  Young professionals are not learning the “relations” part of the public relations craft.

Interestingly enough, it’s the firehose of social media data that shows us more about consumers than ever before.  Machines are not insightful.  It’s humans that need to spend a few hours with that data to understand what creates consumer intention and action.  Every brand needs to acquire and retain loyal customers.  Every brand needs advocates.  Cultivating consumers is done with insights into behavior, beliefs and trends.

Need help?  Reach out.

Who Has Insight?

So who has insights?  Your team does. But are you measuring to find what is hiding in plain sight?  Most companies are not.

The holy grail for most marketing and communications professionals is finding that secret insight that illuminates the “why” behind consumer behavior.

Glacier National Park, MT 2010 Photo by Debra Parcheta

A field of rock in Glacier National Park, MT. yielded some beautiful “insights” on further examination. Can you see what’s hiding in plain sight?

If we know why people prefer or intend to purchase a product, or why certain product benefits cause consumers to choose one brand over another, we can grow our brand.  It’s about market share, competition and creating an iconic brand – one that owns the market and lives forever, right?

To that end, media measurement should be helping us to study what works, improve on it and maximize messages and tactics that consumers respond to well.  So how do we measure to get insights?  It’s easier said than done but start with some simple steps.

  1. Collect data.  What do you want to figure out?  Collect only the data that matters.  Most measurement is done at the “article” level so that we can look at groups of messages over periods of time to compare what works.  We are not just counting.  We need the context of what we were saying when and where.  We might need to collect data about our competitors and across different media channels to see where we fit in the grand scheme of our brand’s market.
  2. Enhance data.  What do you want to figure out? We have to read to see if certain qualities exist.  We can read what other people say and what we put out there.  The act of reading through articles educates us about what consumers are seeing and thinking.  How can we change and improve what they see and know about a brand?  Not everyone is good at doing this sort of thing.  Sometimes we have to train “readers” to enhance the data, but it’s well worth the effort.
  3. Summarize insights.  Even a person who did not read the data can look at comparisons  and start to see patterns and mathematical conclusions about what worked and what didn’t.  They begin to understand messages and evaluate market positioning.  When a  team brainstorms about these findings together, there often emerges an insight or two that can lead to changing the strategy for the brand.  A team becomes more insightful when they behave like a think tank for their brand.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”― Aristotle

Gather your team to create your insights.  But promise us that you will go one step further – take your newly minted insights and do something to grow the brand.  Yup – we’ve just arrived back at the goal setting and actionable part of a good measurement and communications cycle.

Want to talk more?  Reach out to Debi Parcheta with your questions and comments.

Measure Like a Marketer .. Because You Are One…

8931832451_9720cff219What keeps you from delivering good measurement in a timely way to your Chief Marketing Officer? Or to your client’s marketing organization? 

After all, communications professionals are a specialized part of the marketing team for every brand.  And you are in a position to have early knowledge about trends and strategic opportunities for brands.

Too often, media professionals find themselves catching up with their marketing department.  They weren’t at the table when marketing decisions were made and annual strategies were developed.  And now they are tasked with making a communications plan and executing actions to support what their marketing counterparts thought would work.  Often, there was only a small amount of budget left for what they need to do.

Marketers measure their impacts in dollars and impressions – in ROI and comparative effectiveness.  Marketing activities are very measurable – they buy a quantity of advertising in a certain channel, they see the sales rise when ads are active.  There’s a solid sense of “it worked” (or it didn’t).

Communications professionals market their brands in a different way.  They excel at talking about a brand.  Their purview is key messages and campaign development, starting conversations, building reputation, engagement and brand advocates.  What you know and measure from your activities should be shared with your marketing counterparts to help refine their investments for a brand.  Don’t wait for an invitation.  Get that data to them!

Your marketing team should look to you for these things:

  • Analysis of brand perceptions
  • Insights about key audiences.
  • Creating impressions and awareness.
  • Engaging the target consumer in creative ways.
  • Evaluating consumer intentions.
  • Competitive insights.
  • Creative ideas to communicate widely
  • Knowledge of what has worked in the past.
  • Setting goals for improved communications for the brand.

All of these things can and should be measured.  The trick to measuring is to start BEFORE you communicate.  Set goals and measure against them during and after communication campaigns.  Then tell the story of how things worked in comparison to other marketing tactics.

Some communications professionals find that they are better at measuring than their marketing counterparts, and that’s when they become valuable partners who are not left behind when the next cycle of planning starts.

Are you at the table?