Why Most PR Measurement Programs are like Toothbrush Holders

toothbrush holderRemember when all toothbrushes looked the same? Clearly back in the 1950s there was a toothbrush and toothbrush-holder cabal that colluded to ensure toothbrush handles would be a certain size. And sure enough as a result, all toothbrush holders had holes the same size.

electric toothbrushOver the years, toothbrush makers realized that in order to make a better toothbrush, they’d need to stray outside the bounds of whatever agreement they had with toothbrush-holder manufacturers. They made toothbrushes with thicker, sturdier handles that were easier to hold. And for more effective cleaning, they made electric toothbrushes with really big handles to hold batteries.

All this being said, last weekend, I ended up taking no fewer than six old toothbrush holders to Goodwill. I could, of course, use them as pencil holders, but who uses pencils anymore?

What does this have to do with measurement, you ask? Modern PR programs are like the toothbrush manufacturers — they’ve made huge advances in how they develop relationships with influencers, contact media outlets, and how they get their messages out. PR outreach today includes videos, tweets, and, like a modern toothbrush, does its job a lot more effectively and efficiently. Communicators are testing and frequently using a variety of new techniques and technologies that need to be measured in entirely new ways. They’re experimenting with Tumblr,  Pinterest, Vine, Vimeo, Instagram, Quora, you name it. Social and web analytics, influencer tracking, and relationship metrics are all part of a modern communicator’s tool box. Like modern toothbrushes, they don’t fit in the narrow, tight slots that PR measurement companies provide.

Unfortunately, most PR measurement systems are like those old toothbrush holders.  They roughly resemble the solutions I was offering when I first started Delahaye in 1987. They monitor, collect clips, and offer some sort of “one size fits” all sentiment analysis. Not to mention, they include the measurement equivalent of hard-candy for your teeth — AVEs. They push a standard package of monitoring, tracking, and counting clips/hits/whatever you want to call them. Sure, many of them include social media tracking, but essentially it’s still the same package trying to fit in the same size hole.

None of that helps you improve the health of your relationships or the effectiveness of your message communications. To do that, you’ll need an integrated system that looks at messaging, social engagement, outcomes, and results. So what does that look like?

Hint: You need the measurement equivalent of this:

3 toothbrush holders


About Author

Katie Paine

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