A Q&A with Katie Paine, the Queen of Measurement

Katie Paine has been a pioneer in the field of communication measurement for three decades, helping organizations analyze, evaluate and measure success in corporate communications, public relations and social media. We recently spoke with Katie, now head of her own consulting firm, to get her thoughts on trends and techniques that marketing and PR professionals should consider when developing and measuring their programming.

What are the latest tools that every marketer should have in place to measure social and traditional media programming?

Excel and Google Analytics continue to play a role in measurement, along with Google News Alerts.  I also really like Glean.Info, which is an analytics tool that provides monitoring and measurement services.  It’s a great tool for collecting news, social and owned and paid media metrics into a single dashboard. 

How much should be invested in measurement tools? 

My rule of thumb is that you should spend at least 10 percent of your budget figuring out whether the other 90 percent is working.

What is your recommended approach for reporting results to company leadership? 

I suggest communicating results by ranking items from worst to best, then highlight what needs to be fixed first, not the obvious successes. Also, only show those metrics that relate to the core business, ignore the rest. Insight is what leadership wants, not just random numbers. I tell my clients to make sure they can boil their message down to an elevator speech, and assume it’s a very short elevator!

The International Association for the Measurement of Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) recently introduced an initiative to remove the advertising equivalency value (AVE) metric from industry standards.  Are you in agreement?

Absolutely.  As I recently explained in this article, AVEs further the notion that PR is all about activity rather than results. AVEs were invented when space in a publication was at a premium and publishers charged advertisers by the column inch.  Now advertisers pay for clicks, “likes,” leads or conversions—not for space which is an essentially unlimited and worthless commodity. AVE defenders essentially say: “Who cares whether you reach your target audience with a key message or generate any action? So long as you’re creating column inches, you’re good.”  This move was well overdue, and I’m glad that other industry associations, including the chartered institute of public relations (CIPR), are supporting it.  If you need more reasons why you need to reject AVEs, this is a great list.

Are there other measures that PR practitioners use that you consider to be meaningless?

Impressions.  We generate a lot of them but very few do what they are intended to do.  Also likes, and all the other metrics that don’t translate into business value.

What metrics matter most when it comes to social engagement? 

It depends on the goals of the campaign, but generally I tell my clients to consider click throughs to desired pages, incremental increase in search ranking, and conversions.

How do you think measurement will change over the next few years? 

I think we will see increased integration between marketing metrics and communications metrics, as well as the merging of internal and external, social, and digital and traditional media.