“You Are What You Measure”…I believe the first time I heard this phrase was from the mouth of Katie Delahaye Paine. I’m quite sure Katie didn’t invent this phrase (it may have been Hauser and Katz in their excellent April 1998 paper entitled, Metrics: You Are What You Measure!), but I certainly have heard Katie use it repeatedly over the years we have known each other.
There is a corollary to this phrase that might go a little like this: If all you measure is media relations (primarily clip tonnage), that is how the PR profession will be valued. I have heard or seen this from a number of measurement savvy people recently – Dr. Jim Grunig at the IPR Measurement Summit and Julia Hood in her October 2 column in PRWeek to name two. So the Catch 22 is this – while we all might agree that attempting to measure public relations is a positive and to be encouraged, what we are measuring and how we are presenting the results is marginalizing our profession – clip book by clip book.
If public relations is to fully assume a seat at the executive table, we must address this Catch 22 in two fundamental ways:
- We must do a better job of measuring and communicating all the value (tangible and intangible) delivered by public relations above and beyond media relations/clip counts – executive counsel, investor relations, employee communications, brand building, reputation enhancement, crisis communications…
- We must connect the dots to show how public relations, including media relations, is helping to achieve desired business outcomes.
So, as Hauser and Katz suggest in their paper, “Many metrics seem right and are easy to measure, but have subtle, counter-productive consequences.” This is what I believe is happening today with our clip-happy mentality.
Hauser and Katz go on, “Other metrics are more difficult to measure, but focus the enterprise on those decisions and actions that are critical to success.” Exactly!