The Public Relations Strategist

The Mantra of Metrics: A Realistic and Relevant Approach to Measuring the Impact of Employee Communications

Publication Date: 2004, Fall

Source: SO02 Public Relations Strategist
Product Code: 6K-030402
Organization/Author/Firm: Bernie Charland
Specialization(s): Internal Communications / Research - Evaluation / Measurement
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PR clients and practitioners have become increasingly intent on establishing business-related metrics for their communications programs. Originally, metrics were an advertising challenge. Agencies had to justify their media buys and fees by showing their impact on the bottom line. Now metrics have become a similar priority in public relations. More than ever, the elusive holy grail of the PR industry is the ability to show a clear link between the communications program (money spent) and the company’s bottom line (money gained).

For years, the debate in public relations has focused on measuring the impact of traditional external activities. Product publicity, community outreach and media relations were measured through tools like active preference and ad equivalency. But now the discussion has reached the variable field of employee communications. Showing how positive media coverage impacts brand equity and revenues is a challenge, but demonstrating how more informed and satisfied employees can increase revenue may be more difficult. A number of studies offer tantalizing evidence of the link among engaged employees, productivity and cost savings, but they are not easily duplicated in agency-client situations. As a result, PR agencies rely on a wide assortment of models and tools — of varying levels of sophistication and scope — to explore and measure this link.