The Ninth Trap of PR Measurement

February 10, 2006 at 1:48 pm 2 comments

The people over at Cymfony have put together a list of the “Eight traps to Avoid in PR Measurement“, as follows:

1.) Not doing a media audit or assessment before starting a measurement program.

2.) Not defining standard metrics across your organization.

3.) Limiting metrics and analysis to small number of key pubs or simple messages.

4.) Treating all mention s equally.

5.) Not slicing metrics by different audience segments.

6.) Delayed measurement and reporting.

7.) Not taking blogs and online discussions seriously.

8.) Not demonstrating your success, often.

Some of these traps are relevant to all PR and communication measurement, notably 2, 5 6 & 8. However, the focus is clearly on measuring PR outputs and not PR outcomes.

So I would add a ninth trap:

“9. Focusing only on outputs and not outcomes”

PR outputs measure the amount of exposure an organisation receives. More important is to measure PR outcomes – did the PR activities result in any opinion, attitude or behaviour change amongst the targeted audiences?

Given the focus of the list, it’s not suprising to learn that Cymfony offer products to measure PR output. But they should recognise that good PR measurement goes beyond monitoring the amount of press articles, blog posts or online discussions you generate.


Entry filed under: Communication evaluation, PR evaluation.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mark Weiner  |  March 6, 2006 at 3:17 am


    Thanks for your post and I couldn’t agree more. While media-driven public relations is among the most well-known elements of PR, what good is it if it doesn’t generate some meaningful business outcome. I’m sure if they were asked the question, people at Cymfony would agree that media coverage is important, but only in so far as it advances the organization.

    There is a new approach to examing the impact of marketing — including PR but also advertising, price promotions, direct, etc — on sales. Positive, prominent news coverage delivers one of the best returns on investment within the marketing mix.

    But there are other measures of ROI that have nothing to do with media … good counsel, for example, or doing more with less and for less.

    As organizations begin to realize the importance of PR, as they are, they are also recognizing the need for accountability to match the increased visibility of the function. Most other departments — sales, production, finance, for example — are all measured on the basis of their ability to drive revenue and profits. PR is no different.

  • 2. intelligentmeasurement  |  March 8, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    Mark, I think you put it very well that PR needs to be linked to meaningful business outcomes.

    I just re-read your article in O’Dwyer’s PR Report on Improving ROI of PR and you make the very valid point that business executives consider that clip volume is measurable but not meaningful while key message delivery and raising awareness with target groups are measurable and reasonable.

    I look forward to hearing more about the work you are doing in ROI-based PR measurement.



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