Measurement has always been a critical component of Beehive’s campaign map. And the client need for solid PR measurements has never been greater. In this economy, results are king. We are working more closely than ever with our clients to defend their decisions and help them articulate the value of their campaigns to the C-Suite. But what results matter? What are executives looking for? We have found this to be different with every single client. So what is an agency to do? We have put together a framework for how PR – across a broad spectrum of activities and needs – can be measured. Using this framework as a foundation, our PR account teams meet with clients to answer the following questions. The answers inform the development of a measurement plan. By developing a measurement plan at the outset, our clients get the data they need, when they need it—to inform their business and showcase our combined success.

1. When do you need to report on PR outcomes?

Some organizations report on a quarterly basis, others need data monthly. We also have some clients that need to be able to produce reports on a specific PR tactic on demand. Identifying this at the outset helps our clients meet the internal expectations of their leadership/boards.

2. What investment can this campaign make on measurement?

We all want smart campaigns, based on data, and we want to show results. But reporting can become unaffordable if you don’t prioritize what results really matter within your client’s organization.

3. What does the C-Suite expect to see in terms of results?

This question will help clients prioritize the myriad measurement options. We ask our clients how their executive teams will define PR success. Do they want to see how much share of voice they have been able to capture from competitors? Do they want to see a rapid increase in fans/followers/customers? Is it media coverage for the brand or executives that justifies PR spend? Do they expect to see a full report on the return on investment (tied to sales)?

4. Which tools do we have access to?

The number of measurement tools available to PR professionals is staggering, and the growth of social media has brought along even more analytics tools. However, it is not enough for a PR agency to use these tools. Clients need to come to the table with resources as well. For example, if a client needs to see return on their PR investment tied to sales, their PR agency must have access to the company’s CRM, sales projections and P&L—or we simply cannot provide an ROI measure. Beth Harte has a great explanation of these contingencies in her post Marketing Dollars and Sense. Identifying these contingencies up front makes it much easier for agencies to meet a client’s expectations. For PR agencies, measurement cannot be an afterthought. The sooner you can have the measurement conversation with a client, the better. At Beehive PR, we have seen first hand the value a defined measurement plan brings to our client relationships—it reveals future opportunities, helps us ask smart questions and, as a result, produce smart campaigns that we can efficiently adjust based on real, actionable data. Measurement is core to how we do PR.