I am back fresh from our Intuit corporate communications summit where I and 70 of my fellow communicators all gathered to share our plans for the coming year along with our points of view on where our function is going.
One project I worked on with the group was around measurement and how we could, as a company, do a more meaningful job of capturing and analyzing the results of both our public relations programs and now our social media programs. The thought was we need more measurement to be inline with our online marketing brethren and other functions that have established and results that are easy to track.
I do think, especially on the social side, we have to get better about framing up what results mean and the impact they have on our businesses. While we’re doing this well already, there is room for improvement and I intend to be there to help get it where it needs to be.
At the same time, some of the squishier measurements that public relations has always been criticized for (impressions, etc.), remain important too. As practioners we must be careful not to go to far as our function is much more diverse and full vs. online marketing or brand advertising. That’s not a knock on the other disciplines – they’re necessary and useful. But as professional commnicators, we do so much that never sees the light of the day or cannot be measured.
Take for example crisis communications or issues management. Talk to any PR pro and they can give you hundreds of examples of when they successfully spiked a damaging or sensational story that could have negatively impacted their business. The way in which we do this is some of the most high value work we do yet we can never talk about it, win awards for it or measure the abscence of negative coverage. The perfect analogy is that of a successful CIA agent. You’ll never hear about the times they saved the country from a national security threat, even if they were heroic. It’s a silent valor only acknowledged behind closed doors.