Measurement is overrated. Yes, you read that right. No, I’m not trying to lure you in for curiosity clicks with a bait-and-switch. Measurement is less important than influence.
It’s not that the things being measured are not themselves important; it’s that we’ve developed a habit of confusing good outputs with good outcomes, and are treating the measurements themselves as the end goal. It’s too easy to treat each metric as holding equal weight, as though every social media mention or backlink were equally as important to your client’s goals.
Having good measurements and good analytics isn’t the same thing as having influence. The measurements should be viewed as merely an administrative device that are useful for justifying your worth to your client. But influence measures your client’s value. If you seek to build influence first, influence will take care of measurement.
If you want to win the game of PR, focus first on influence and impact. Every PR pro worth her salt knows that credible media is audited by BPA Worldwide, a third party audience auditing firm, and Nielsen Ratings, a data and analytics measurement company. You can also easily assess which media is going to be the most influential for your campaign using technology from Cision and Muck Rack. You certainly can’t afford to ignore these ratings. But ratings are a tool to measure effectiveness; the big picture idea of influence is a strategic consideration.
Which levers will move a client’s agenda forward? It can be as simple as dominating a single trade media outlet or blogger. Or it might be a community or industry stakeholder. Either way, you must get away from the Volume is King mentality that assumes that the more press, the better. We don’t measure column inches anymore, but we count clicks as though each represented an equal gain in market share. Don’t chase clicks or mentions or pingbacks for the sake of the measurement. Rather, zero in on one or two gatekeepers and decision makers. Seek to impress those who hold sway in your client’s industry.
Here are the keys to generating influence:
- Define the client objective in one sentence.
- Determine who or what can exert the most influence on decision makers.
- Validate the reach and audience through third party sources.
- Review public information including their public comments, articles, etc.
- Build bridges with target through proactive outreach and value add ideas.
Measurement will always be a necessary part of communicating results and performance, but if you start your campaign efforts by defining and identifying your primary target in terms of what changes the behavior of the audience, measurement will fall in line based on outcomes rather than outputs.
If you’re ready to start building influence instead of just backlinks, give me a call.
Tony DeFazio is an accomplished public relations professional and entrepreneur who has led three agencies. He bootstrapped his first business, growing it through the Great Recession to achieve an exit. He excels at developing narratives and delivering them with resonance and impact to influencers and media around the world. DeFazio is a respected thought leader who has served in leadership positions of industry associations, and was elected President of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Philadelphia Chapter and Heritage Region Board of Directors, representing 17 states in the Mid-Atlantic and Mid-West.