Blogs  / June 10, 2014

Courting the Queen of Measurement: Katie Delahaye Paine

by Rebekah Iliff

When we first started speaking with our “circle of trust” over a year ago in preparation for our Analyst launch, one name came up over and over again:

Katie Delahaye Paine.

Known by many as the “Queen of Measurement” (#QOM), she has been in the PR biz forever and runs a successful consultancy focused on PR Measurement. She regularly speaks on the subject, and is tapped for expert opinion on the evolving PR landscape.

Take, for example, her recent shout out surrounding the Vocus-Cision merger.

Not to spoil the interview, but she will say things like: “I can only speculate that stupid people doing dumb things don’t want to be measured.”

Well, I couldn’t agree more. I would also add that people doing small things don’t want to be measured.

Oh, and this: “The big shift has been away from HITS – how idiots track success –  towards more meaningful business oriented metrics that are tied to web analytics or opinion shifts.”

Sassy, irreverent, and not afraid to speak her mind, we bring you an interview with #QOM which will likely make you that much smarter.

Read on for more #QOMisms. They are JUST. SO. GOOD.

Katie Delahaye Paine headshotRebekah Iliff: You’ve been a pioneer in the field of measurement for more than twenty years. What’s kept your metrics fire burning bright after all these years?

Katie Delahaye Paine: One of the core beliefs I learned early on in my career was that you have to love the people you work with. I have been privileged throughout my career to work with the smartest most innovative communications professionals in the business. I can only speculate that stupid people doing dumb things don’t want to be measured, but for whatever reason I love the people I get to work with, love solving their problems, and love the challenges, especially when they say “we’ve never been able to measure what we do” – because chances are good, I can figure out a way to measure it.

RI: Why do you think it’s taken the PR industry so long to embrace standardizations of measurement? Is it fear? Lack of education? A combination thereof?

KDP: I think it’s a combination of education and personality. People tend to go into communications because they like words better than numbers, and people more than spreadsheets. So yes, fear is part of it. It’s always been easier to talk about great stories, spectacular events, and lots of gut instinct and for whatever reason, that seems too many to be at odds with the nuts and bolts of measurement.

RI: You say you got into measurement as a way to make life easier for journalists, not PR people. Has it worked? What is one thing PR pros could do to ensure they are telling interesting, authentic stories?

KDP: To be honest, no, I don’t think that measurement has helped journalist’s one whit, but I think social media has had a positive impact. Social media enables PR pros to better understand journalists, and what they’re interested in. When people connect as people, they tend to be more relevant. It’s like meeting anyone at a cocktail party: you ask questions, find out who they are, and what they’re interested in. If it is also interesting to you, you have a conversation.

If not, you excuse yourself and get another drink. I think PR people need to know when to walk away when journalists aren’t interested. They try too hard to force themselves into irrelevant conversations.

RI: I’m sure you’ve encountered your fair share of opposition to the measurement battle cry. Let’s talk about some of your wins. Can you share a past experience where you put the naysayers in their place and proved the value of PR measurement?

KDP: One of my favorites was being called in by Tourism Canada to help them get rid of AVEs. I worked with their marketing strategist to identify the ways in which PR contributed to the decision to visit Canada. We developed a score, and it is currently being fed into their marketing mix modeling to put a dollar value on it.

Another one I was very happy about was when I worked with a client to define “downloads of a specific guide from their website” as a proxy for intent to purchase. I then correlated earned media vs paid against that data and discovered that the earned media delivered 5 times the results for 1/10th the price.

RI: What metrics do you currently use to measure the effectiveness of client communications? How have these shifted over the years?

KDP: My advice to all my clients is to define metrics that tie their efforts to the business goals. Typical metrics are % increase in incoming requests for information; % reductions in those who are unaware of your product offering; % increase in share of messages penetration in designated markets or among key stakeholders.

The big shift has been away from “HITS” – “how idiots track success” — towards more meaningful business oriented metrics that are tied to web analytics or opinion shifts.

RI: Currently you’re fully focused on writing and publishing interesting things that help people do their job better. What article(s) or topics in particular have professionals derived a tremendous value from?

KDP: I hate to say it but all you have to do write a headline that says “how to” and “board level” and people read it. People seem to be starved for insights, so the more I can tell them about how to derive insight for their data, the more value I’m bringing.

RI: Any parting words of wisdom for PR pros?

KDP: Forget the media. It’s not the media that matters, it’s the business you are trying to build and the customers or stakeholders you are trying to influence. All the impressions in the world won’t help if none of them generate a qualified lead or change someone’s mind.

Get an MBA or at least take your CFO to lunch and understand how your organization makes money. Then figure out how to relate what you do to the business. Take a statistics class so you can use big data that’s out there, and make sense of it. Don’t just put a headline on a chart, draw a conclusion and make a recommendation, and if you can’t – what’s the point of showing that chart?

Want more Katie? Follow her on Twitter here. Read her blog here.