Every couple of months here at Harvard we host what we call a “Comms Confessional” dinner for clients, potential clients and friends of the company.

We call it a confessional because we recognise that sometimes in-house can be a lonely place and to have the opportunity to spend an evening with peers, sharing challenges, experiences and best practice is a good thing. Usually after a couple of glasses of wine the discussion turns to some of the tougher challenges…

We always have a theme – integration, digital, content marketing and so on. Last night at the Duck and Waffle, we looked at measurement, and it was our most successful dinner yet.

I wanted to share a summary of the conversation which others might find useful. You might think of it as “five points for better measurement”:

  1. Move the conversation away from sales. This is hugely important. The stampede to make PR justifiable through sales is understandable but is also damaging the hugely powerful effect of well-thought-through and executed brand awareness and reputation work. Moving a conversation from focusing on one thing to another, or helping to prepare a market or audience for a new product or service, are two highly measureable example of how comms can support sales without having a sales target on our heads.
  1. You don’t have to measure everything, but you do have to measure something. Full audits of hard-to-reach niche audiences or unprompted awareness brand trackers all have their place, but they can be expensive and impractical for every campaign. The key to strong outcomes-driven measurement is a full understanding of how your company is going to achieve its business objectives and what that means for reaching new or existing audiences, then measuring changes in that audience. This can be a suite or just one or two very clearly defined metrics.
  1. Embrace and test online tools. Measurement isn’t about justifying what we do its about providing value back to the business. Look at GaggleAmp (or similar tools) for engaging your biggest advocates – employees. Track links from reputable sites through Google Analytics or Pulsar or simply spend less time on cuttings and more time on PR with Releas’d. These are just a few ideas, but test, be curious, fail fast and move on.
  1. Use a scorecard. Proper businesses are run on numbers. Whatever your metric or measurement criteria, fight, battle, and cajole to ensure that you are aligned to the numerical KPIs of the business. To be measurable it has to be something that is measured by the business as a metric that will eventually be used to judge the success or failure of the company.
  1. Target, target, target. As audience experts we pride ourselves on this at Harvard. Never stop trying to understand the people you are trying to reach, what they care about, what keeps them up at night and where you can find them. True insights into who you trying reach will yield better measurement metrics.
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