The Measure of Success

I’ve had two conversations in the last couple of days on measuring communications results which got me thinking about what we do and why.

As an industry, the PR profession dashed down a blind alley with the introduction of advertising equivalency value – measuring how much it would cost to “buy” the physical space that is taken up with the client coverage we generate. I’m not going to go into the arguments against AEV, since very few serious PR firms would advocate its use as anything other than a simple qualitative measure, but we we still get sucked into using it because the client insists it’s “the only number the CFO understands.”

Today I was thinking about conversion ratios: Familiarity > Consideration > Purchase > Usage > Loyalty. If the success of the brand depends on the number of users who are converted at each stage of the brand experience then surely communications professionals should be referring to those ratios as measures of success. After all, we promise positive business outcomes, not “cheap advertising.” If we talk to our clients about their conversion rates at each level and then develop communications plans with the specific aim of increasing the numbers at specific touch points, then surely that’s a language the CFO can understand?

Let the advertising folks sell advertising – that’s their job. We should be taking the lead in moving the conversation to the next level and talking about what we do – changing the behaviours of the people that drive our clients’ businesses. Our measurement methodologies need to reflect that.

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