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The power of PR measurement with Katie Delahaye Paine | On Top of PR podcast

By On Top of PR

On Top of PR podcast: The power of PR measurement with guest Katie Delahaye Paine and show host, Jason Mudd, episode graphicLearn why you should make PR campaign measurement a priority with our guest Katie Delahaye Paine.



Our episode guest is Katie Delahaye Paine, aka The Measurement Queen, a pioneer in the measurement field for three decades. Her latest company, Paine Publishing, is the first educational publishing firm entirely dedicated to making more Measurement Mavens.



The one with Katie Delahaye Paine on why you should prioritize measurement in all of your PR and marketing campaigns



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Five things you’ll learn from this episode:

  1. The power of PR measurement

  2. Why PR measurement is important

  3. How to start measuring PR

  4. The future of PR measurement

  5. The role of measurement in corporate social responsibility and corporate social advocacy


  • “I really do think that AI and machine learning can go a long way to fix the accuracy problems in measurement because there is a tremendous amount of accuracy problems.” -@queenofmetrics

  • “Whenever there’s a crisis and companies are doing foolish things, I always have this vision of the entire PR department bound, gagged, handcuffed in the basement, and screaming at the top of their lungs, “Don’t do that!” So what AI, data, and measurement can do today is release the shackles.” -@queenofmetrics

  • “If you dodge the press, the time it’s going to take you to get from a whole bunch of negative press back down to neutral is a lot longer.” -@queenofmetrics

  • “What’s the thing that is going to get your boss’s bosses walking into your office and plunking a case of champagne down on your desk because you’ve done such a fabulous job?” -@queenofmetrics

  • “For corporate social advocacy, you must measure: Did that advocacy appear authentic? Did it raise your trust levels? And did it make anybody want to do business with you more often?” -@queenofmetrics

If you enjoyed the episode, would you please leave us a review?


About Katie Delahaye Paine:

Katie Delahaye Paine, aka The Measurement Queen, has been a pioneer in the measurement field for three decades. She founded two measurement companies, KDPaine & Partners Inc. and The Delahaye Group. Her books, Measure What Matters (Wiley, March 2011) and Measuring Public Relationships (KDPaine & Partners, 2007), are considered must-reads for anyone tasked with measuring public relations and social media. Her latest book written with Beth Kanter, Measuring the Networked Nonprofit: Using Data to Change the World, is the 2013 winner of the Terry McAdam Book Award.


Her latest company, Paine Publishing, is the first educational publishing firm entirely dedicated to making more Measurement Mavens. Its newsletter, “The Measurement Advisor,” is the industry’s most comprehensive source of information about best practices in communications measurement. In her consulting practices, she designs measurement dashboards for some of today’s most admired companies. Katie has also been a leading promoter of standards in the PR and social media measurement field.


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Presented by: ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving and promoting online customer reviews.




- Hello, and welcome to another episode of On Top of PR. I'm your host, Jason Mudd. We have a great guest today. We are talking about PR measurement and we have connected with the Queen of Measurement, none other than Katie Paine, and she is gonna have a great conversation with you and me today about the power of PR measurement, why it's important, and where to get started. You're gonna really enjoy this episode especially if you were struggling to measure PR or you just wanna get better at it, because I don't think anybody is completely thrilled with how they're measuring PR today, and in this episode we're gonna help you get there and stay on top of PR.


- [Announcer] Welcome to On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.


- Hello, and welcome to another episode of On Top of PR. I'm your host Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations. And today we have a special guest, Katie Paine. Katie, welcome to the show.


- Thank you so much. I'm honored to be here.


- We're glad you're here too, and I'm glad to be here. I'll tell you, you and I have never crossed paths before. This is actually the first time we're meeting, and I'm very excited about that because you've got a great reputation in the industry, and our mutual friend, Johna Burke, who has been a guest on this show previously, I think we kinda made a reference to her during our episode, that she was the Queen of PR Measurement, and she said, Oh no, no, no, I do not deserve that title. It belongs to Katie Paine. And so I'd certainly heard your name in the business before but never had an opportunity to connect with you, and what better way to do it, in a live recorded a conversation here and we can get to know each other a little bit better through our time together today. Does that sound good to you?


- Sounds great to me, yeah.


- Good, good. Well, Katie, why don't you give our audience just a little bit of background of who you are and what you do and your career and success in the public relations profession?


- So first of all, I want to tell everybody that the reason I'm the Measurement Queen is because I started that life as a reporter and an Asian Studies, Asian History major. So I went to work in Silicon Valley and I was completely ineffective as a communications person because everybody around me was talking in charts and graphs and data. And I suddenly had an Aha moment where I said, Oh, if I just translate my words into numbers or charts or data, they'll listen to me. And they did, and they gave me a budget. And I went on to Hewlett Packard and Lotus Development and all these things and I kept measuring stuff as I went along. And then at some point along the way, I decided I really was genetically unemployable. I was not cut out for corporate America. And I had just finished this project where I was under tremendous fire. I was the ninth director of corporate communications in five years so I knew I was gonna get fired. So I did this whole measurement project where I looked, I knew that the goal was to get our messages out to key people and ultimately convince them to buy more Lotus products. And so I read everything and I eventually hired somebody to help me do it. But we read like 2,400 articles and evaluated each one based on whether it left you more or less likely to buy the product. And I showed it to my agency and everybody else in the company, and the agency head, Bob STRAY-TEHN, at the time said, Anybody who's not using this by the year 2000 doesn't deserve to be in business. So I said, okay, and I quit and started Delahaye Group, which was my first company. Sold that and then started another one, which was supposed to be kind of an educational measurement newsletter company and consulting company. But I very quickly got dragged back into the measurement space, and that was KD Paine & Partners. And Delahaye eventually became Cision. KD Paine & Partners eventually became Karma, and then in 2013, I decided I really didn't want to ever have another employee, and I really didn't want to have a company. I just wanted to help people figure out what to measure and how to measure it and to write about it. And so we started Paine Publishing, I started Paine Publishing in 2013, and we published a newsletter entirely devoted to measurement, and I conduct training courses and seminars and conferences about measurement, and then we do a lot of eBooks and that kind of thing. And then I have clients who basically come to me and say, I need to measure something, help me figure it out, and what I do is I work with them to identify the connection between their bottom line and what they're doing, and that becomes metrics, and that becomes a measurement dashboard.


- Well, that's fantastic, and that's exactly what we want to accomplish today, is helping our audience understand how to measure, and that it's something that is obviously, can be done, should be done and maybe you might be willing to share some rough blueprint of how to do it. Of course, everything, every measurement case is unique but there are certainly some commonalities and similarities. So I'd like to rewind just a minute, and you said, you expressed at some point that someone said to you, if companies weren't using this by the year, I think you said 2000, then something to the effect they probably would be out of business or should be out of business. So what exactly did you put together and do you see that being embraced in corporate communications today?


- Yeah, I mean, basically what I put together is exactly what every measurement dashboard put out there by Cision, Meltwater, Talkwater, or whatever now shows today. I mean, not everybody's using them obviously, but essentially all we did was take positive, negative, and neutral. We defined it differently. We basically said positive leaves you more likely to buy the product. And we had human beings back then because nobody had AI or machines or anything else. It was basically, we had human beings with Excel spreadsheets going through and reading articles, and that's what we did. And since then, then the goal was, of course, to get positive press. Today what you really have to do is get people to define what senior leadership views as the role of communications in the bottom line. And so you start with, okay, how do these people out there who signed your paychecks and the boards of directors and whatever it happens to be, but what do they perceive as your role in the business process? And that's always an interesting one, because a lot of people think generating good press, okay, fine then how does that help the business? You sort of really have to work people back and forth. And then ultimately, to come up with something that connects and is what I call, basically, acceptable proxies, right? I mean maybe positive articles are acceptable proxies, or maybe the lack of negative articles is the exceptional proxy, or maybe traffic to the website, whatever it happens to be. So it can be absolutely anything today. Back then, it really was about just the positive press. And then to a certain extent it was, did the messages, did the stories contained the messages, and then did we reach the influencers, because back then it was all about industry analysts and were they echoing our messages. So that's basically, it's getting the bosses to agree that this is what you're trying to do.


- So Katie, where do you see the future of PR measurement? Where do we go from here now that there's been an overall adoption of some basic measurement tools and techniques?


- Well, I think that is the funny thing. We just spent about an hour talking about that at our summit on the future of measurement, debating what the future was. Let me go back a year. A year ago, everybody was like, Oh, it's all gonna be about AI. And yeah, there were a lot of companies talking about using machine learning and AI, and I was highly skeptical, and I basically said, I think that's all a bunch of hooey, in more salty language, perhaps. And then I said, AI is going to help. It tells your basic PR person, A, there's a crisis coming, this is the type of crisis it's going to be, C, this is your best response based on the best crisis communications theory, and here's what worked in the past. And a Gaugarin Oliver of Fullintel called me up a week later and said, We can do that. So we did this whole experiment working with Professor Coombs, Tim Coombs, who actually wrote crisis communications theory. And sure enough, they taught a machine how to identify the crisis and the type of crisis and the best response. And so I've changed my mind and I've been converted. I really do think that that AI and machine learning can go a long way to both fix the accuracy problems in measurement, because there is a tremendous amount of accuracy problems? I think it can go a long way for speeding up the response times to things. But a big part of it, and it's funny, I'm doing a thing on AI later on this week. And the big issue here is that it's not so much that AI and machine learning are going to replace human beings, right? It's that they're going to produce, the measurement it's producing today, the data to convince senior leadership to do the right thing and to stop doing the stupid stuff. And I mean, you hear this all the time, right, that you know, whenever there's a horrible crisis and companies are just doing really stupid things, I always have this vision of the entire PR and comms and public affairs people bound, gagged, and handcuffed in the basement, , screaming at the top of their lungs, Don't do that. And the lawyers have the key, right? And so what AI and data and measurement can do today is release the shackles, let those people out and say, Hey, lawyers, it's not gonna work. And the example that we did was, in this experimental study we did, was that you could just see that when the companies in these, we looked at three self-inflicted crises, a particular airplane that kept falling out of the skies, WeWork, that kept falling out of the sky, and a toddler death, and it was all self-inflicted crises. And every single time, if you said, and this is the beautiful chart, it basically said, If you say no comment, if you blame the victim, Boeing blamed the pilots, right, you know, if you blame the victim, if you say no comment, if you dodge the press, the time it's going to take you to get from a whole bunch of negative press back down to neutral is a lot longer. And so we used a metric called time to neutrality, which is from the peak negative stuff down to neutral, and how long did it take, well, I mean, you can do that manually. It's going to take, it's a lot of data, and it's going to take you a lot of time, but AI can do that instantly. So it's going to provide data to communications folks. It's going to make it easier to get that data and then show that data to the people who are making stupid decisions, and keeping them bound and handcuffed and, you know, and gagged in the basement.


- Well, that's a very colorful answer. I love it. So let's start with the corporate communications leader or maybe even a manager entry-level person who they've got, I'll use a real life example. You know, many years ago I was working with a Fortune 1000 company and their measure of PR success was how many news releases did we send out? I mean, it was that basic. And unfortunately, the client contacts we reported to were bonused on this, and so there was some sort of bonus scale. So of course, they were announcing every conference that they were speaking at, they are announcing every donation they made. I mean, it was just, and so, but they got it. They understood, at least at that level, there was some news that we were just putting on the website to check a box and say we did it, and there was other news that we were truly out there, pitching media and trying to line up interviews for. But let's just say that's kind of the worst case scenario, right? If somebody comes in and that's where they are today, and they say, Leadership's vision of PR is volume of announcements, I know that's not great, says the clients, right, says the corporate communicator. I'm currently reporting on how many releases we sent out and how much it was picked up, basically, vanity metrics or almost useful information. Where would you--


- We call them activity metrics.


- Absolutely, yeah. Where would you encourage them to begin moving the conversation and managing their management, right, or kind of guiding their management through that? You know, where would be a good place for them to start if they really don't have much traction there.


- The big thing is to bring in other data, right? So if you do that and you say, okay, I increased the volume of my press release distribution by 20%, what happened to your messages? Did your messages also go up by 20% out there in the world? Did people get your messages more? What happened on your website? Did people actually go to your website to find out more? And I'm not saying, because there's a wonderful Sodexo case study where they did exactly. That they sent out a press release a day for like three weeks. But each one was designed not to get press. It was designed to boost Google search on certain topics. And it worked, and they got sales up. But the goal was sales leads, not press.


- [Jason] Not earned media coverage.


- Not earned media coverage. And so, I mean, you've got to work backwards from literally the CEO or somebody to say, what do you think this earned media, I mean, go and find somebody in the finance department and get their help with their data. But if you're doing all that stuff, you're pushing out all those press releases and you can't show that either more people went to your website or you're getting more messages out there or even just getting more positive press or getting more exposure for the things you want to get exposure, boosting your Google, your SEO, your search engine rankings, or boosting your stock price, I mean, if it doesn't do any of those things, why don't they just fire the entire PR department? Because it's obviously not bringing in any revenue and it's not contributing to anything. It's not even, you can say, a longterm perspective. So, okay, maybe, fine. Then Mark Stouse has a great product that automatically time shifts all these things. So it'll take your stock price and your Google analytics and all that data and all the activities you do and it automatically does correlations and time shifts everything. And it's called Proof Analytics, and it's quite amazing. But what happens is the fact that they say, Okay, you're doing this now. It's not going to pay off for 11 months. Or you could do this over here and it's going to pay off in three months. Choose wisely. My favorite is a George Jones songs, but basically it's called Good Choices, and you sort of look at people and you say, here's the data. You could do this or you could do that. Make good choices.


- There you go. Very nice. Well, with that, we're going to take a quick break and come back on the other side with more with Katie Paine.


- [Announcer] You're listening to On Top of PR with your host, Jason Mudd. Jason is a trusted advisor to some of America's most admired and fastest-growing brands. He is the managing partner at Axia Public Relations, a PR agency that guides news, social, and web strategies for national companies. And now back to the show.


- Welcome back. I'm Jason Mudd. I'm joined today with Katie Paine and we are having an excellent conversation about PR measurement, probably one of the most important conversations that a PR practitioner could be having, especially if you're not yet measuring PR or you're not yet demonstrating sound measurement in your PR practices. And I'd just like to encourage our audience to keep in mind, that's okay. You have to start somewhere, and there's going to be some companies that are leading the way and there's going to be many other companies that are very far behind. And I see that differentiation every day when I'm talking to other corporate communicators and PR leaders. Some just aren't on the measurement bus yet, and others are trying to find the bus and the best route, and others are on the bus and enjoying it. And so no matter where you are, Katie and I want to help you get there today, and so we're having a great conversation about PR measurement. Katie, we were just talking kind of a little bit about what you can do, how you can align with leadership, how you can demonstrate what the data is telling you and make wise decisions from that data. And I agree with you. I think that not only do you have to understand what the leadership team, how they view PR and what they're looking for from corporate communications, but one thing we try to do is always align our communications goals with the company's goals, so that whatever the company is trying to accomplish this quarter, this year, over the next three years, that PR and corporate communications is in lockstep with those guidance. What are your thoughts on that approach?


- Well, I think the big thing is that we have more tools, I mean, as an agency, as a department, whatever, they have access to more tools than ever before to get messages out there, to position themselves on issues, to whatever the goal happens to be. There's lots of different ways to do that. And frankly, compared to paid advertising in the Wall Street Journal, it all seems cheap at some point. But the reality is the fact that you've got communications teams out there and PR teams and their agencies that are sort of always working at capacity, always long hours, and you need to know what the most efficient use of those resources is. Be it bodies or brains or budget, you need to know what the most efficient use is. So what you need to do is you need to come up with that goal, right, that here's-your-champagne moment, here's the thing that is going to get you the boss's bosses walking into your office and plunking a case of champagne down on your desk because you've done such a fabulous job.


- [Jason] I love that, champagne moment.


- The champagne moment isn't going to happen unless you know what that goal is in the minds of the board, the CEOs, the boss's boss.


- [Jason] You could be having your own champagne and they're like, Why are you celebrating this? It doesn't mean anything to us.


- Happens all the time. I mean, I see that all the time, of people saying, Hey, we got a lot of likes, and we raised the number of follower accounts but if that's not what, if that's not what is perceived as your job or your role, then it's not going to work. So the important thing is get agreement on that champagne moment, on whatever it is that you're all working towards. And it's typically, you know, it's a strategic priority, it's a strategic positioning, whatever it is, it doesn't, it's not always dollars and cents, but it's something that contributes to the bottom line. And then you work backwards, you come up with, as I call them, acceptable proxies, and then you have to be very realistic that, for instance, if the goal is I want to increase trust in our brand, right, well, yeah, you can read social media, and maybe if you're really good and have a really super-duper system and a whole bunch of really smart humans, you might be able to figure out trust, right. Cost you maybe a million dollar system but, or you do a survey, and the survey questions are already written. There's been tons of research over the years on what trust is and the components of trust, and I've written guidelines for measuring trust. The survey questions are already written, they're out there, they're on my website, they're all over the place. Take four or five of those questions and you know, do a Google form survey and send them out to the stakeholders and figure out whether they trust you now and the level of trust now, and then you do it again after your campaign, or you do it again after six months and you say, Okay, have we raised the trust level? But that kind of thinking is, everybody wants, like, I want something right now. So I'm going to go onto my media measurement dashboard and come up with a chart. Well, if it doesn't relate back down to that champagne moment, you're not going to convince anybody of anything.


- [Jason] You're spinning your wheels unnecessarily.


- Totally. So what you really want to do is you want to be able to say, okay, I'm doing these five things and these five things are generating search engine rankings, better search engine rankings, or leads, or visits, or length of duration of the visits, or whatever it happens to be, whatever those agreed upon proxies are. And then you say, Okay, now we've all agreed, this is the champagne moment. Which of these things are contributing more and what is the resource behind it? Because this is the other thing that PR communications doesn't do very often, which is to put a resource number against it, right? And it's not just budget, right? It's not just, I spent this much money on an agency and therefore I got this much back or I didn't get this much back. It's the bodies and the effort and the energy, and so that's what I call it a resource number. And basically, on a scale of one to 10, right, with 10 being total pain in the neck, to be polite, I call it a PITA number. Your PITA number is, Oh my God, we've been sleeping on the floor for the last week and a half getting this damn thing out the door, to complete easy peasy, right? So all those little things that you do, all the campaign, whatever it happens to be, you give it a resource ranking, and then you look at the overall results, and that result is whether it's, you know, clicks or opens or positive coverage, your message is communicated, or quality, overall quality score, and I'll talk about that in a minute. But whatever that result is, you put that on a grid like this. And so you look at the low resources, low resources, high results, do more of that. High resources, low results, stop doing the stupid stuff. It's not that complicated, but it's reframing the conversation around from the activity metrics like you were talking about to activity metrics plus resources to the results.


- And how do they come up with that? How do you figure out what those resources are? Well, that's the easy part, I think, but then figuring out where those activities are yielding the type of results you're looking for.


- Well, that gets into the definition. And what I, basically, force on my clients is what I call a definition of good. Good results. What's a good result? I mean, in PR, it's generally a combination of visibility. Does it mention your brand in the headline? Is it by somebody influential, right? Is it in a media outlet of some sorts that's going to influence anybody that you care about? Is it about something you care about? Does it contain your key message? Does it leave you more likely to do business with a company, or work for the company, or recommend the company, or whatever it is, or does it leave you less likely to oppose? And I think a lot of PR today is, I call it the reducing the number of pitchforks at your gate. I mean, that's the whole CSR/CSA stuff. But you know, sometimes you're just trying to reduce opposition. Whatever that goal is, you basically define this, what I call a quality score, and you do it for earned media, you do it for social media, you can do it for internal, you can do for external, you can create these definitions of good. And then that becomes your metric. And what I find is, it's amazing how different or quirky in some cases each different client of mine's definition of good can be.


- [Jason] It's very relative, yeah.


- But it has to be relative to your own objectives in the company and organization. Maybe it's a share of voice, right? I mean, a share of voice may just be, you know, I raised my share of voices this month, or chair of desirable voices as opposed to overall share. Whatever that number is, that's what you put numbers around so you get your resource judgment call to easy-peasy, and then you get good versus bad, but you have to put the definitions around it.


- Right, absolutely.


- And the challenge with PR, and I beat people up on this all the time, because if you look at like the population of PRSA, it's something like 60% non-profits and small shops, right? It's not Proctor & Gamble and Unilever. And so you have to make all of this stuff specific to your CEO, or your CFO, or your organization, or your stakeholders, because there is no one size fits all.


- Right. By the way, you threw out a couple acronyms. One was PRSA, and I assume many of our audience knows that that's the Public Relations Society of America. You also threw out CSR, which I assume stands for corporate social responsibility, and CSA would that be corporate--


- Corporate social advocacy.


- Advocacy, yeah. I was going to guess that but I didn't want to make any assumptions.


- Yeah, well, so a lot of the CSR stuff, that CSR became this social responsibility stuff. It grew out of the, a lot of the works that I was doing back in the early 2000s, late nineties. But corporate social advocacy, really, the Nike-Kaepernick thing kind of stuck the stake in the ground and said, Okay, this is what corporate advocacy is supposed to do, and, oh, by the way, it's sold a lot of sneakers. And we had a whole session at our Measurement Summit last week, and it's very tricky. And a lot of times, it's hard to navigate, but it's not hard to measure. Because basically, ultimately, what you want to know is did that advocacy, A, appear authentic, did it raise your trust levels, and did it make anybody want to do business with you more often?


- Right, that's very good. I love that. Very clear, concise, and focused, you know, kind of evaluation-type questions for, really, any campaign or even communication that you might send out there. So, yeah. Well, Katie, we are starting to run short on time. This has been a wonderful conversation. You have a couple of opportunities where folks can connect with you, including subscribing to your email, checking out your eBooks, and possibly signing up for exploring some conferences that you offer. What's the best way for people to not only find out more about those opportunities, but specifically, to get connected to you?


- It's very easy. My email is measurementqueen@gmail.com.


- That's very easy.


- So that's easy to remember. And the website is painepublishing.com. And the newsletter is The Measurement Advisor, and it comes out roughly once a month. But it is a subscription-based newsletter, but most of it is free. It's basically putting numbers on, we put a paywall on a couple of things because that pays the editors and, you know, keeps us all alive, and pays my bills. And you know, but you think back on it, we started that in 2013 and we've actually had a subscription-based newsletter since 2013, and we haven't raised the price. But if you subscribe, you get content from whatever that is, seven years of measurement articles. So pretty much, actually, in this issue that's coming out this week, literally every question anybody's asked me over the years will be answered somewhere in that newsletter. I basically said, let's just answer everybody's questions and put it all in one place.


- That's great. Yeah, that'll be a very popular resource, I'm sure, and we'd be thrilled to put some links in the show notes to where people can go to opt-in to these resources for them to learn more.


- And we also do three or four a year, what I call Measurement Base Camp. So if you're listening to this and going, Oh God, I don't even know where to start, whatever, we do a series of sessions on how to do surveys, how to use pivot tables, how to use Google Analytics, how to use all of these tools that are out there and free and really help, and they're not really all that horrible and complicated and confusing when you explain them pretty simply. So we do a day on each one and it's, basically, it turns out it's very popular, people really like it, because people really get their questions answered about, you know, what's a pivot table and how do I use it, basic things like that.


- Well, Katie, this has been incredible. You were a great guest. I loved what we talked about here today. I know our audience picked up a lot of information about public relations measurement and the importance of it and some practical tips they can take away for where to get started. So thank you so much for being a great guest. It was an honor to have you and I'm excited to have you back in the future where we can dive into this topic even more. Folks, if you enjoyed hearing from Katie today, I would appreciate if you would connect with her through her website and subscribe to her newsletter. Speaking of subscribing, if you like what you heard today, please subscribe to our vodcast or podcast on whatever platform it is that you're consuming it. We really appreciate your comments and ratings and feedback and requests. So connect with us, stay in touch, and we're going to produce many more episodes just like this that will be very valuable to you in your profession and your employer and clients. So thanks for tuning in.


- [Announcer] This has been On Top of PR with Jason Mudd, presented by ReviewMaxer.

Topics: public relations, measurement, On Top of PR

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