Measuring what counts

Long ago I had a boss who was focused on processes: How many news releases were issued, how many column inches of publicity were received, how often were our executives  interviewed. He believed the more we did of what we did well, the more positive it would have to be for the business. Today I understand his focus but I don’t share his belief that counting activities is always meaningful. It’s not that I don’t believe in quantitative analysis or measurement: As someone once observed, what gets measured gets done. But what I believe is that results require more than driving up the activity count, and that success should be defined in terms of contributions to the outcomes that matter to the business. If I am not measuring my success in terms of what and how my activities contribute to outcomes that matter, my work is not adding value.

Outcome goals should drive how I invest my time and resources. More Twitter followers and more likes on Facebook are process goals; a larger market share, higher average sales, or an 10% increase in donations are outcome goals. (The SMART goal  illustration here is from

Public relations professionals must understand the business strategy and outcome goals, and make sure our activities are helping drive the metrics that are important to business success. If we are not contributing to the metrics that matter, it doesn’t matter how well we are executing  – or keeping count.

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