Not long ago, I had a conversation about PR measurement with someone I consider a media relations master — a person who leads global communications for a high-flying public company.
We were talking about the different metrics you can choose from and what measurement gurus advocate when she said, “None of that really matters — what I’ve always found is that it totally varies according to whatever the CEO thinks is most important.”
Though she acknowledged that we have the ultimate responsibility to educate our executives and clients about the “right” way to measure and report our results, she also knows how important it is to figure out what the boss really wants first.
For example, she knows her boss loves broadcast clips and seems indifferent to web-only placements (even though it was a “.com” company), not to mention all the issues management and crisis prevention she did behind the scenes. So, she got creative and figured out a program that consistently delivered a high volume of TV placements. And then, eventually, she rounded out her plan to cover all the other bases she knew were important.
I’ve had experiences like that, too. Once, I worked for an executive who placed an inordinate amount of importance on a specialty weekly paper he received on his doorstep every Saturday. Rather than try to convince him of how inconsequential it was, I decided to focus my pitching efforts on that outlet.
One day, he rushed around the corner from his office, holding up a two-page spread I landed, and urgently asked my boss: “What do you need to get more like this?” Thinking fast, my boss went big and said, “Funding for another full-time position.” And with that, my team doubled in size.
Think how much more of the “right” stuff we were able to accomplish with those additional resources, once we proved to him that we understood what HE valued.
The rule I’ve always followed that has ultimately led to the most independence is: No matter what your job description says, your primary responsibility is whatever your boss or client thinks it is.
Nail that, and you can eventually get the autonomy and resources to build your program the way YOU want to.
Michael Smart teaches PR professionals how to dramatically increase their positive media placements. He’s engaged regularly by organizations like General Motors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Georgia Tech to help their media relations teams reach new levels of success. Get more media pitching knowledge from Michael Smart here.