Blogs  / March 4, 2021

How Data-Driven Measurement Demonstrates Business Value

by Carly Owens, Public Relations Specialist at Experian

As communications professionals, we’re natural storytellers. On a daily basis, we tell our brand’s narratives and successes, but sometimes, we can struggle to tell our own. That is just as important a skill, because it demonstrates the value that communications brings to the organization. Learning to tell your story doesn’t have to be hard, but it does takes intentionality and data-driven measurement.

Often, when I talk to communications professionals, they can easily rattle off a list of outlets they’ve secured coverage in, and, while impressive, that list doesn’t actually tell you that much. Beyond the list of outlets, what I want to know is: What kind of business impact did that coverage have?

At the onset, that question seems daunting. But, in the years that I’ve been spearheading measurement of public relations efforts for Experian, I’ve learned that with consistent PR measurement, you can have the data available at your fingertips to answer this question for yourself, your team, your c-suite and stakeholders. Below are steps you can take to demonstrate the value that your communications team brings to your business at a moment’s notice.

Identify what metrics matter most to your organization.
There are many metrics that can be used, but that doesn’t mean they should be used. If you’re using ten different metrics, this may cause confusion because your audience (your team and your leadership) may not know which metrics they should pay attention to. Instead, identify which metrics demonstrate the magnitude of your team’s efforts most effectively and accurately, and use them consistently. (Suggestion: monthly, quarterly and annually.)

Think beyond traditional metrics, like coverage counts. More impactful metrics could be things like traffic driven to your website as a result of media coverage—accessible with PR Attribution™, or sentiment of coverage, which can demonstrate the reputational impact of coverage. Don’t forget to consider what metrics apply to your competitors as well.

Use metrics that build on each other to give context to your reporting.
One of the most common questions I get when presenting a PR measurement report is “But what does that mean?” Typically, this is after I’ve shown a metric like coverage count. While there are lots of ways to answer that question, such as looking at trendlines or explaining what coverage was earned, I’ve found one of the most effective ways to answer this is by using metrics that build on each other to help tell a story.

For example, after showing a coverage count, you can point to how much the online content was amplified across social media, and then how many website interactions (form completions, page visits, downloads, etc.) it drove. This will show that you’re not just measuring media coverage, you’re truly demonstrating the business value of that coverage.

Find metrics that are qualitative, in addition to quantitative.
Numbers are great, but sometimes they’re not enough. Layering in metrics like Power of Voice™ can demonstrate how you compare against your competitors, in reputation-building content. This can be used to demonstrate value, and to inform communications and reputation management strategy. If it seems like one of your competitors is performing more strongly, Power of Voice™ can help identify if this is true—and if it is, you can analyze their coverage to see what they’re doing differently.

Communicators play a vital role in any organization, but if we’re only armed with anecdotal examples of the impact we’ve caused, the value isn’t always immediately seen. By using data-driven measurement consistently, you’ll be able to point to impacts that your team has had on business goals, and demonstrate indispensable value.

To hear more insights around data-driven communications, please join us for “The Growth PR Playbook” webinar on Thursday, March 25th! In this session, our panelists will discuss how to shift your strategies from activity-based PR to Growth PR as well as practical plays that you can start implementing which are driven by metrics, data, and insights.