Busting the PR Measurement Myth

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The widely held myth that PR performance cannot be measured or tied to budgetary targets has plagued our industry for years. But today, progressive PR pros are debunking this myth once and for all by setting and achieving measurable objectives.

As we discussed in an earlier blog post on setting goals to drive PR success, goals are the broad, overall outcome you want your public relations efforts to accomplish for the company. Goals themselves are big picture and not necessarily measurable.

Once you've set your goals, you then develop a subset of interrelated specific, concrete, and measurable objectives to achieve those goals. Objectives are strategic steps to achieve a goal, written specifically around the ability to measure their success.

Setting Measurable Objectives

Specific, measurable targets not only help you achieve a goal, but also allow you to prove your PR department's value, enabling you to justify resources for your work and help company decision makers understand the public relations role in the organization. Two types of objectives are best suited for PR.

Results, impact, or outcomes objectives identify specific results or outcomes related to your communications activities – measuring a change in awareness, understanding, opinion, attitude, preference, and/or behavior.

These are often further broken down into three specific categories of objectives: informational (message exposure, comprehension, or retention), attitudinal (change, reinforce, or create an attitude), and behavioral (change, reinforce, or cause behaviors). A comprehensive set of objectives toward a goal should include at least one in each of these categories.

Example Informational Objective: "Increase customer awareness of [XYZ aviation product] by 50 percent through pitching and landing four feature stories in leading aviation publications by the end of the second quarter of this year."

Example Attitudinal Objective: "Produce a professional brochure and mini website to launch at NBAA highlighting the benefits of [XYZ aviation service] in order to create a favorable attitude toward the service among 45 percent of private jet owners by the end of the year."

Example Behavioral Objective: "Increase customer inquiries about [XYZ helicopter product] by 35 percent before Heli-Expo next year."

The second type is process, or output, objectives. These describe actions you'll take to assist in achieving the goal. (For example, "By the third quarter of this year, develop and distribute a monthly two-page newsletter to the entire prospective and current customer mailing list focusing on the benefits and features of the new [XYZ] helicopter product line.")

Including both results and process objectives in achieving your goal will help support your success.

Finally, when writing your objectives you may find it valuable to check them against the SMART acronym. Many in aerospace and defense PR use this trick to ensure objectives are strong and manageable:

Specific – Be as specific as possible in actions, timing, and measurement.

Measurable – Have a quantifiable measurement included in the objective.

Agreed – Ensure you receive buy in from all relevant stakeholders.

Realistic – Make your objectives challenging, but achievable.

Timed – Establish a clear finishing point.

Want to Learn More?

Our new “Power of PR-The Ultimate Guide to Professional Aerospace and Defense Public  Relations” e-book has more information about goal setting and the entire PR planning process. And our comprehensive PR Toolkit is full of one-of-a-kind resources tailor-made for aerospace, aviation, and defense marketing professionals. Better PR is just a download away.