Measurement Month with Katie Paine: Using data to find the ‘ah ha’ moments

Katie Paine on Smoke Signal

It is November so that means one thing – it is AMEC Measurement Month. In conjunction with The Public Relations Institute of Australia this episode features an in-depth discussion with measurement pioneer, Katie Paine.

This year’s Measurement Month theme is Measure What Matters.

Katie coincidentally wrote a book by that same title way back in 2011 and says what matters today as a communication professional is that you are making a difference to the bottom line in a way that senior leadership expects you to contribute. That doesn’t necessarily mean making a sale, it may be increasing credibility or increasing trust.

The big aha moment that set Katie on her lifelong measurement journey was the realisation that communication people speak in words and everyone else speaks in numbers; so our job is to translate it.

How do we do that? Katie suggests starting with something concrete. A product launch, an event, something that has a specific measurable goal, and a project you can carve out and measure the impact of communication on the business goals. A week before the launch, sign up for a free trial of a media listening tool, use Google Forms to do a survey right before and right after the initiative. Measure something very discrete and concrete that doesn’t take a long time to set up. Show those to metrics to senior leadership and you will get funded for your next project.

The good news today, according to Katie, is that measurement is much more sophisticated with the combination of media analysis, survey research, web analytics, social analytics coming together in an integrated dashboard where practitioners able to show how they are doing relative to the organisational objectives. Check out The Communication Dividend as an Australian innovation doing just this.

Listen to this podcast even if your eyes glaze over at the thought of measurement as Katie has a great turn of phrase. Here’s a few of my favourite from our chat:

  • Measurement is the vaccine for the stupid stuff – the advantage of having measures of success based on goals and objectives is that you can say this decision gets made based on our business objectives;
  • Analyse your data from the worst to the best – you find out more from failure than you do from success so be sure to find out what didn’t work;
  • The problem with AVEs or impression is they give big numbers that confuse the c-suite… they are like sperm, lots of them out there but very few of them do what they are intended to do;
  • I think the biggest mistake PR people have done with measurement is saying look how well I have done and insisting on all the charts going up and to the right;
  • Don’t tell people what you think they want to hear, tell them what they need to hear. Do it in a way that cuts through all the charts and number. You are storytellers, tell a story with the data.

After three decades writing and speaking on measurement and evaluation, Katie hopes that we can start to spend less time worrying about how to set up and do measurement and more time actually using the data to find insight and give better advice. The problem in the past was getting the data, today there is no shortage of data, there is a shortage of insights. Practitioners need to dive into the data to find the ‘ah ha’ moments.

Published by Paul

Paul Cheal is an experienced financial and corporate communications leader with over 20 years’ experience working with Australian and global brands to build and protect their reputation.
He is a former journalist and an experienced academic, having been a casual tutor and lecturer at University of Technology, Sydney, teaching PR and communication to undergraduate and post graduate students. With a Masters of Public Communication from UTS as well as a Bachelor of Arts (Communications), Paul is passionate about Public Relations, this podcast is an opportunity to speak with key practitioners, academics, leaders and influencers from across the profession.