Results are the Bottom Line

At the end of each term, the students in PR Campaigns, our capstone PR course, present their portfolio of work to a panel of professionals. It’s an exciting day, with lots of great energy and terrific feedback from our talented professionals who give anywhere from 2 hours to 8 hours to share their expertise with our students.

I had a chance to speak at some length with several reviewers this term at the end of the process and at the top of that feedback was that the students need to focus on the results of their work.

This is often hard to do for students (it’s often hard to do for anyone, let’s be honest). If you’re dropped into the middle of a campaign at an internship, for example, your work is often task-oriented – write this release, compile this clip report. But having a results-oriented brain will help tremendously and set you apart in the job search process.

Of course, to measure, you must have clear objectives.

Based on my students’ questions and reviewer feedback, here are some common “tasks” and how you might measure them. I would love to get your feedback and I’m hoping some of the reviewers will drop by and share their thoughts.

  • Scenario: I compiled media clips for my internship all summer. Clip books are not glamorous, but it’s a very common entry level activity and if you know how to do it (and why!), that’s important.
    Measurement: Media clips are an evaluation method in and of themselves. Talk to your account supervisor and ask what the goals of the campaign are/were. When you describe your clip-compiling activities talk about how this was a crucial piece of reporting to the client and were proud to help showcase your agency’s or department’s success.
  • Scenario: For a class assignment, I wrote a release/fact sheet/FAQ [insert tactic here].
    Measurement: Even for an assignment, you can still include information about how you would measure a particular written tactic. Think about how you would see that particular tactic through. The point of a release is usually to get media coverage, for example. Include a short blurb at the bottom of the release you include in your portfolio that describes how you’d measure.
  • Scenario: I created a blog.
    Measurement: Make sure you have some analytics available. WordPress.com has built in site statistics, Blogger and WordPress.org can run Google Analytics. It’s important to understand what these basic statistics mean, so do your homework. If you can dig a little deeper than per-post viewers, that will show a more complete understanding of the tools.

There are a thousand scenarios, of course. I think I’ll dig in a bit on a few in future posts and explore some more ideas about measurement and evaluation.

Remember that regardless of which stage in the process you got involved with a project or how little you had to do, you can always think about how you would measure, even if you didn’t have the opportunity to do so. Kaye Sweetster from University of Georgia suggested creating an executive summary report or a metrics report for any project. You can even do this if (gasp!) it wasn’t required! Focus on – what was the opportunity or problem, what was your approach and how did/how would you measure.

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