How to Measure Public Affairs’ Effectiveness: 4 Examples


$ The first thing most Public Affairs professionals will tell you is that they aren’t selling anything, so standard metrics don’t apply. Of course, most Public Relations people are pretty far removed from the selling process as well. The real difference between PA and PR is in the primary stakeholders that they serve. Each requires different measurement approaches, tools, and techniques:

  • When PR professionals think about their stakeholders, the first to come to mind is generally the media, and secondarily, customers and prospects.
  • For PA professionals, the most important stakeholders are generally legislators, government officials, and voters — in a different order depending on the organization.

Nonetheless, measurement of public affairs still begins in the same place that all other measurement programs do: Goals and SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). And, as with any communications measurement program, there are many different types of goals and objectives with which PA professionals are tasked.

Let’s look at a few different scenarios:

1. Measuring Success in Cause-Related Organizations

SMART objectives for this type of situation might include:

  • Stop adverse legislation from passing within this legislative cycle.
  • Get desired legislation passed within this legislative cycle.

Here at Paine Publishing, we consult with a number of nonprofits who are dedicated to advancing a variety of different issues from civil liberties to traffic safety to legislating drones. For all of them the ultimate outcome is to get bills passed or killed in local, state, or national legislatures. But passing or killing bills isn’t a valid metric, since it doesn’t tell you whether you’re making progress towards the outcome.

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Katie Paine

I've been called The Queen Of Measurement, but I prefer Seshat, the Goddess.