In a previous post, we shared about measuring what matters. A key point made was to set outcomes and measure these outcomes in relation to business goals. With qualitative outcomes, this is even more important.

Choosing NOT to link goals and outcomes is a wasted opportunity.

I brought up the task of being creative in coming up with measurements and outcomes.

It’s always useful to think of the campaign as an experiment, and this experiment has to provide data for you to complete your paper/thesis. Otherwise, you cannot submit it and perhaps you might not get a passing grade.

Remember, hone your craft like how you would do so in a video game; and it can help you make many decisions better.

To quantify or not to quantify, it’s always the same damn question.


It can be challenging evaluating whether a campaign has delivered the outputs you want, and whether it can be considered successful. After all, branding, reputation and positioning are abstract and difficult to rationalise through numbers and formulas.

However, the challenge to quantify is not the right challenge communications and PR practitioners should be – or want to be – dealing with.

The point is: There is no lack of numbers to count, add or tally. Instead, there is a challenge when it comes to what to measure and how to measure it.

As opposed to measuring anything and everything associated with, or mildly relevant to the campaign.

Sidebar: What is the data maturity approach in IT, and how does it relate to me in communications and PR?

The data maturity approach involves creating an operating model that solves specific business problems.

At Dell, the end goal of data maturity is to enable “…end users with the ability to perform their own analysis, without the need for IT, on a trusted and supported architecture.”

There are four stages to be aware of for the organisation to move through. These are “data aware”, “data proficient”, “data savvy” and “data proficient”.

Each stage is marked by how standardised reporting and data-reliant the organisation becomes in making business decisions.

When applied to strategic communications, data maturity becomes about managing data, and applying data to become more efficient within the function and across the organisation’s stakeholders.

With a data maturity approach, the goal is alignment with the organisation and a single-minded focus on THE critical outcome. As opposed to all outputs that might be disguised as outcomes.

This can be sales numbers, revenue growth, brand building, etc. If the action does not lead to an outcome supporting the outcome, the action must either be discarded or re-iterated into one that does.

The key question becomes: Are we driving results aligned with our organisation’s goals and outcomes?

strtgcommsgrp - data maturity approach

Let’s take a BIG step back and up and talk about efficacy.

Many communications and PR practitioners face the same challenges when it comes to metrics and measuring the outcomes of their programmes.

These challenges include demonstrating speed to market, measuring the value provided to their brand and organisation, how efficiently resources were deployed and the effectiveness of the programme in producing a desired behaviour.

When running a campaign, we want it to have high efficacy (or effectiveness) through our planning to execution.

Referencing the Barcelona Principles 3.0, and the AMEC framework, to achieve efficacy, there are key steps to take note of during the strategy and planning stage through to execution.

These include setting realistic and achievable goals, taking a holistic approach as well as measuring both outputs, outcomes and potential impact.

Ben Levine, AMEC Board Director shares this is about thinking of “…the channels we are impacting, and change we would like to see through campaigns, events and activations”.

Understanding that we want to move away from a single-dimensional measurement of outcomes, it is important to not fall into the trap of arbitrariness. For example, using AVE that is based on a set of numbers that the practitioner – in our PR space – has no control over, and that was created for an entirely different purpose (that of quantifying traditional media articles from the 1800s).

When we measure efficacy of a programme or a campaign, we are looking at the value, impact or benefit produced that influences an action or behaviour we want the customer to take.

strtgcommsgrp - efficacy of a programme/campaign

This can be measured as an action, for example conversion or purchase; as well as behaviour, for example moving the decision to the next stage or referring the product to their community.

It’s not about putting numbers into boxes but selecting the right set of metrics to demonstrate efficacy through impact.

So. Qualitative vs. quantitative, what’s our stand?

Let’s put this heuristic out there.

When it comes to measurements, stakeholders (leadership, management, clients etc) tend to prefer quantitative metrics.

It is certainly effective in finding a way to get people who do not know much about communications and PR to think we are effective. Lazy. Definitely. But it can be effective.

Here’s the kicker.

As the communications and PR specialist in the room, it’s our job to educate and improve upon our role and function to our stakeholders. Relying on ‘lazy’ measurements is the equivalent of kicking the can down the road, because at some point, maybe even in another organisation, it will come back to bite you. Arbitrary measurements that we have no influence over, that is neither accurate nor relevant, will get us cornered in the end. At that point, there is only one option – to capitulate and surrender your credibility.

Well, why not do both?

The ‘number’ layer should form the baseline of a report, since it is the most accessible means of accounting for the performance of a programme. With accessibility, stakeholders can be reassured efficiently about progress.

It is easier to report and a formula used, to determine the increase (or decrease) over time (for example, year-on-year, month-on-month and similar).

However, it should not be the only layer or means to prove efficacy. This would be discounting the qualitative and intangibles that situations often throw up.

As shared earlier, we can consider proxies for actions and behaviours as a measurement.

It is useful to demonstrate that these behaviours helped achieve the goals and outcomes more than through numbers alone.

These intangibles must be measured as well but given their qualitative nature, the descriptor and the demonstration of value must be easily understood. It bears spending time to map the measurement, proxy and descriptor to the specific goal or outcome it will support and explain how it does so.

When the metric is pulled up, this explanation should follow along so the measurement is always viewed with context.

3 principles about designing good measurements/metrics for campaigns and qualitative outcomes.

3 shares on reporting qualitative outcomes in terms of outputs, measurements and metrics.

strtgcommsgrp - reporting qualitative outputs, measurements and metrics

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

The purpose of measuring them is to observe the fluctuation and variance against the benchmark or baseline and what that change means specifically to the campaign outcomes or goals.

Over a period of time, there will be measurements that are regarded “as of this moment in time” and whether that is higher or lower vs. the baseline. There will also be a historical overview that will provide brands with actionable insights.

Engagement measurements are data that when analysed individually does not provide insight or direction.

When combined, they help share a snapshot of the current environment. This can be data such as traffic to website, active users, email opens, social media likes etc.

They can also be divided into active and passive engagement.

A common misconception here is that engaging content must be high performing or high-quality content. It can be so but does not have to be.

From a measurement perspective, we are looking for trends such as consistent engagement with a content pillar, or frequent interaction with a content format. These trends point towards uptake of the message. Peaks might only be a one-off thing.

Sentiment and tonality provide a brand with direction.

When compared against a baseline over time, a brand can learn whether their customers like or dislike their products or services.

When measured against an industry through key topics, brand elements or consumer trends, a brand can understand where they stand against competitors and how they are faring within the category or industry.

Sentiment analysis can help turn the volumes of conversational data into qualitative insights such as perception, level of awareness, need for education and so on.

I am a trainer, coach and solutions provider for communications and PR organisations and practitioners. With over 20+ years in the industry, I have created approaches, methods and content that can help you and your team launch, grow, level up and monetise effectively and efficiently.

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