Goodbye (and in many ways, good riddance!) to 2020 – and hello, 2021! The challenges that came our way in 2020 may have created some chaos and confusion, but they also provided opportunities and shed light on areas that could use fine-tuning.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to take a look at your organization’s current practices and processes and make adjustments as needed to set yourself up for success. Measurement and reporting might be one of those areas for a lot of organizations – particularly in the language-driven (and sometimes number-averse!) world of public relations and communications.
As Bellmont Partners’ Data + Insights Lead, I’ll be spending the first weeks of the year evaluating our current client monitoring, measurement and reporting processes to identify ways to enhance, augment and/or streamline our efforts to deliver high-quality metrics and insights throughout the year. For example, we’re excited to be migrating to an enhanced version of our current CISION media monitoring platform that we anticipate will bring new insights and value to our clients.
Here are some suggestions for where to start reviewing and adjusting your measurement and reporting processes.
Monitoring & Measurement
I recommend first taking a hard look at the source of what you’re tracking – how are you monitoring earned media coverage, bylined article placements, blog post or website performance, etc.? As Marie Kondo might say, does it spark joy?
If not, how can you make it better? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How are we monitoring for coverage? Are clips slipping through the cracks, and if so, how can we better track them?
- Are there performance metrics we’d love to have, that we just can’t seem to get a hold of?
- What needs to change in order to enhance how we’re tracking and measuring activities?
- Are there currently manual processes that we could automate, or make simpler by creating a template?
Addressing any issues that arise from these questions could be as simple as adjusting your keyword searches within a media monitoring platform like CISION or Meltwater, or perhaps you need to ask other departments to start tracking new metrics you can include in a report. Or, if monitoring and measuring activities is too overwhelming for one person to tackle, perhaps you need the support of another team member or agency to help take some of the load off.
The first month of the year is also the perfect time to evaluate what metrics you’re tracking, in order to get a full picture of any new results by the end of December. Numbers of clips and potential audience are great basic metrics to track, but there may be additional metrics you could benchmark and begin tracking in 2021, such as web traffic and user demographics, phone calls, SEO scores and contact form fills.
You’ve collected the data; now what to do with it? Although reporting is tied closely to monitoring and measurement, it can be a separate tactic unto itself. Again, start by evaluating your current practices:
- How frequently are we preparing reports?
- Are our reports visually friendly?
- Who is receiving the reports? Do they actually read and respond to them, and if not, what could be altered to gain their closer interest?
Many of our clients request monthly reports, but if the metrics you’re tracking are more dynamic, such as web traffic, you may want to consider more frequent reports, or setting up a real-time results dashboard. Or, perhaps your organization only needs quarterly reports – there is no one perfect solution for every company or industry, so the beginning of the year is a great time to review and adjust as needed.
January is also a good time to review your organization’s best practices around reporting in order to stay consistent throughout the year. If you use multiple monitoring platforms to provide metrics, do they report the same audience numbers, or do they vary? Or, are you tracking outdated metrics such as ad equivalency, publicity value or calculated impressions?
At Bellmont Partners, we aim to keep data consistency at the forefront of reporting, in order to ensure accuracy. As an agency best practice, we have eliminated ad equivalency, publicity value and multiplying audience numbers to get “impressions.” These vanity metrics are notoriously inconsistent, and pumped up numbers for vanity’s sake aren’t providing an accurate picture of performance.
One last area for consideration is updating or adding the types of qualitative data you’re reporting, such as analysis of earned media or anecdotal information like customer comments, recommendations for next steps or summaries of what worked and what didn’t throughout a campaign. These contextual observations and recommendations provide valuable insights for future work and can help avoid pitfalls, or enhance efforts, moving forward.
Monitoring and reporting don’t have to be a headache. I challenge you to ring in the new year by resolving to evaluate and adjust your processes to put your best foot forward in 2021.
As always, if you have any questions or just want to geek out with me about measurement, I’m happy to chat; drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.