One of the maddening aspects of working in PR measurement is the emphasis on using the results to just keep score rather than using the data as a diagnostic tool to determine what is working and what is not. In other words, too much What, not enough Why. I have observed practitioners involved with media analysis generally have an orientation toward one camp or the other. I’m not sure if one’s measurement orientation is genetic or socialized but it is there.
Certainly the culture of the company or organization may reward one orientation over the other. In my experience many senior leaders of companies or organizations seem to reward score keeping over diagnostics. Perhaps this is natural for them, thinking someone else will worry about the Whys.
So how can you determine your measurement orientation? Here are a few statements to help guide you:
- If the first question you ask when the quarterly measurement report arrives is, “How many hits did we get this month?”, you’re a scorekeeper.
- If you ask, “How many unique visitors to our blog did we get this month”, you’re just keeping score.
- If you notice an explosion of positive comments about your brand in online forums and ask. “I wonder what is causing the explosion of positive comments, who is commenting, and how many are re-commenters”, you are diagnostically oriented. A scorekeeper would immediately be most interested in the total number of comments and unique visitors.
- If you are a huge advocate of indexing all public relations results to a single number on a 1 – 100 scale (a la Microsoft and others), you are just keeping score.
- If you are perfectly content with only measuring outputs, or Exposure as I prefer to say, and don’t care so much about measuring outcomes (Influence), you most likely are a scorekeeper at heart.
There is a little scorekeeper in all of us. But, the highest and best use of media content analysis is as a diagnostic tool used to continually fine-tune and improve your public relations programs.
Thanks for reading. -Don B