Surprisingly Good News—and Some Bad News, too—about What PR People Think Is the Future of Measurement

Thanks to PR News’ recent survey of its readership, we have new insights into how PR people see the post-pandemic future of measurement. The surprise is that it’s rosier than I might have suspected. Just to start off, 40% of respondents said that they measure more now than in pre-pandemic times, and just 7% said they measure less.

Reasons to be cheerful—about measurement

Most of the respondents (65%) said that they measure their earned, paid, and owned media results either all or most of the time. Surprisingly, for 47% of respondents measurement was the one thing that didn’t change during the pandemic. That might be because:

  • 96% see measurement and analytics as an advantage. Or because most think that
  • Measurement helps them find insights (64%), or
  • Gets them budgets for PR (50%), or because
  • They don’t have to guess at the effectiveness of PR initiatives (49%).

The respondents tended to agree with our Summit on the Future of Communications Measurement attendees: 27% said that measurement demands a mix of talent and technology, and 1 in 4 said that it would be integrated across marketing and comms.

Advice for people who face barriers to measurement

The most interesting questions were about barriers to measurement, which 68% said they faced. Most of the barriers were self-inflicted, so we have some advice to offer those folks:

  • To the 43% who said measurement is too expensive, we ask: What’s the cost of continuing to do things that don’t work, or pose a risk to your brand? And have you heard of Google? They’re a little company that offers great measurement tools for free, like Google Forms, Google Analytics, Google News, and Google Data Studio.
  • To the one in three who said there wasn’t a measurement culture at their company, we say: That’s not a barrier, it’s an opportunity. Create one and you’ll be a hero with senior management.
  • To the 33% who said they lack access to data: If you work for an agency, put access to data into the contract and refuse to work with a client that won’t share data. You’re doomed to fail if you can’t accurately measure your impact.
  • A horrifying 27% said that “PR’s influence can’t be measured.” To them we suggest that there’s a shortage of cooks and truck drivers these days; you might want to look into an alternate career. Just please leave PR, you’re an idiot. PR has been measuring impact for over 30 years—I know, I’ve been doing it.
  • To the 16% who said that either they are afraid of what they’ll find or that “measurement and analytics are not very important to my job”: You should be fired immediately. I hear that Amazon is looking for warehouse workers. Wait, never mind—I hear that warehouses use measurement, too.
  • For the 39% who don’t find data reliable, and another 17% who said measurement vendors are hard to work with: I suggest you give me a call. The measurement vendors I work with all provide highly reliable data and are delightful to work with.

And to the folks out there teaching PR: you’re doing something wrong. More than half of respondents said that new and recent graduates have little or no academic training in measurement. We can help. ∞

Photo by Felicia Buitenwerf on Unsplash.

About Author

Katie Paine

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