A wasted opportunity for the business, and for the communications/PR team happens when programmes and campaigns are set-up without mapping and aligning goals, outcomes and measurements.

It happens rather innocently.

Perhaps the campaign is annual, and the template/playbook is ‘tried and tested’. In this case, ‘tried and tested’ means a tendency towards repetition. However, the business goals for that year might have changed since the campaign concept was created. And the campaign outputs no longer serve the business goals.

Or maybe the programme is new, but the idea and metrics were created in a silo or without stakeholder involvement. The outputs might be fantastic but there is no mapping to larger business goals, or financial year outcomes, or similar.

And even when there are multiple meetings with stakeholders and other teams to ‘align’, oftentimes the exercise is done as a matter of delegation and outsourcing responsibility and scope.

So how can communications/PR teams seek to shift their organisation’s culture and create more winning outcomes?

When deciding about outcomes prior to measurements feels counterintuitive.

One practice is the decision on outcomes that the programme/campaign will map to and support, before deciding on the measurements.

The measurements prove that the campaign works, in achieving the objectives and such.

However, the objectives must map to, or be translated from a business goal, or supporting business objective.

This might feel counterintuitive but it’s just a way of reverse engineering to an outcome that you want.

When we move in a linear fashion, we are choosing to be reactive to the environment, our customers, the decisions they make/not make, and how we change direction to capture their time/attention/currency/purchase.

By deciding the outcomes prior to the measurements, we are pre-determining what the environment is, and deciding which group of customer profiles to target, and what we will do when the situation changes. The measurements are in support of our decisions.


And stakeholders do not understand why qualitative/intangible metrics matter for communications/PR.

Fortunately for communications/PR teams, not every business team or stakeholder is trained in our discipline.

It can make for frustrating discussions and meetings when we encounter other functions that are driven by quantitative metrics or stakeholders that want something tangible to base a decision on.

There are two ways of dealing with this situation.

First, we must remember that it is our responsibility to educate the rest of the organisation about the value of communications and PR in understanding, doing outreach and educating them about our brand, business and products/services. We have to be ready to explain while the activities we do might not result in a sale or a number, we have helped open the door for that outcome to happen.

Second, it is not the stakeholder/other function’s responsibility to understand us, in the same manner that we do not become engineers, or salespeople or carry their scope and targets in the organisation.

It is in our control though to create ways to explain and demonstrate the value of what we do and provide advice and counsel as a trusted business partner to these stakeholders and functions.

We can do so through sharing data through dashboards, emails, and updates consistently or in a regular cadence with them.

We can make it easier for them to understand the information by providing context, over-explain on matters specific to our discipline, and showcase achievements.

We can also be a good team player, and support other teams’ and their efforts, milestones and achievements in driving business goals.

Does measuring our outputs and efforts have to be so difficult?

Recall, as a baseline, almost all communications/PR plans are structures built to map against business goals, and achieve outcomes in support of these goals.

It is challenging having to determine whether the campaign has delivered the outputs you want, and whether it can be considered successful. Especially when outcomes such as branding, reputation building/defence and positioning are abstract and hard to define through a number or a formula.

Importantly, this need to quantify to explain our efforts is not the correct challenge we should be dealing with.

There will be no lack of numbers to count, combine, aggregate or tally.

Instead, we should be concerned about what, how and when to measure our activities for the benefit of the organisation.

The question we should be solving for is: What data – through our outputs and metrics – can we provide that will help stakeholders/leadership make better decisions for the business?

Sidebar: Making decisions is more art than science.

The statement – Making decisions is more art than science – is an observation that decision making involves subjective judgment, creativity, and intuition. These qualities often fall more on the side of ‘art’ and ‘creative thinking’ rather than scientific methodology.

The decision-making process typically includes more than just the application of logical reasoning or analytical approaches. While we can begin decision-making with many logical or pragmatic approaches, decision-making tends to require a combination of objective analysis and subjective interpretation.

Here are a few areas that the decision-making thought process taps on subjectivity more than a purely objective foundation:

Context and Experience: Decision-making often requires a deep understanding of the context in which the decision is being made. This includes considering the specific industry, market conditions, organisational culture, and stakeholder dynamics. Years of experience provide valuable insights and intuition that cannot be solely derived from data or scientific methods.

Multiple Perspectives: Decision-making involves considering various perspectives and opinions. It requires considering the viewpoints of stakeholders, employees, customers, and the public. Unlike science, which often seeks to find a single right answer, decision-making in the business world requires balancing different perspectives (and agendas) and finding the best possible solution.

Uncertainty and Risk: Decision-making is often associated with uncertainty and risk. While data and analysis can help mitigate some of these uncertainties, there are always unknown variables and unexpected outcomes. Making decisions in such circumstances requires judgment, creativity, and the ability to adapt to changing situations.

Emotional Intelligence: Decision-making is not just about numbers and facts. It involves understanding and managing human emotions. Effective decision-making requires empathy, intuition, and the ability to navigate interpersonal dynamics. These qualities are not easily quantifiable or measurable.

Long-Term Impact: Decisions made in business can have long-lasting effects on organisations, employees and customers. While scientific approaches can provide insights into short-term outcomes, long-term consequences often require a broader perspective that considers ethical, social, and cultural factors.

Making measurements work for the business/organisation.

Here are 3 steps to take, to help create measurements that can work for your organisation.

When designing a campaign, include aspects that will provide both qualitative and quantitative data.

Impact and effectiveness are key.

If BOTH qualitative and quantitative outputs indicate a successful outcome, then the campaign is successful.


3 approaches/methods to designing measurements that align with outcomes.

Set measurements and outcomes early in the plan, framework or approach and reverse engineer the pathway

Providing relevant and specific data and information to make decisions

Each set of metrics should have a baseline, an average and a median.

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