Moving the Needle Is What Counts

No PR or public affairs campaign can claim success unless it moves the needle.Public affairs and public relations campaigns must do more than rack up statistics. They need to move the needle.

Measuring success can be highly variable in the public affairs and public relations world. If you are handling communications for a ballot measure campaign, success is easy to mark — you either win or lose at the polls. But most of the time, success comes in the form of incremental movement.

Just because the advance is incremental doesn't mean you can blow off measuring it. For example, coming up with an incentive to encourage loyal customers to come to your restaurant one more time each month may not seem like a big deal, but the return on investment — a discount or free food item — can be enormous because you are communicating with people that already love your restaurant.

Clearly stated objectives are the key to relevant measurement. If you website's main purpose is to act as a digital brochure, then don't measure its performance for generating new business.

The key point is measurement drives action. Solid research at the front end of campaigns provides a benchmark and informs the communications you undertake. Follow-up measurement shows if you moved the needle.

Some PR people fear measurement because they don't want to fail. But measurement isn't about failure; it's about making improvement to achieve success.

You will fail without a clear starting point and demonstrable evidence you moved the needle. Moving the needle is what counts. Showing you moved the needle gives your work the credibility it deserves.