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PR Measurement: My “Point of Connection”

Barack Obama announced last week  that his campaign raised more that $150 million in September — so much, that they’re considering passing some of these goodies along to Democratic Party committees to try to help grow the party’s majority in Congress.

What is most compelling about this number is the fact that it didn’t come from a few donors with deep pockets. No, Obama’s campaign tapped into the pulse of first-time voters, and motivated them to donate in relatively small amounts through Web ads and e-mail appeals. That’s the ultimate example of building a successful virtual community — engaging your audience and putting them to work for you, with a tremendous impact on the bottom line.

There’s a huge lesson in this for public relations practitioners as we grapple with the worst economy some of us have ever seen. Now, more than ever, we have to justify our existence to marketing and management. There is no better way to do that than by demonstrating the value you bring to your organization, which means if you’re not already doing it, you need to start figuring out your measurement program. And, yes, it needs to incorporate more than “impressions” and “ad value.”

I guest-blogged about this on “Communications Overtones” just last week, and returned on Saturday from IPR’s Measurement Summit in New Hampshire, where I spoke on just this topic. The “measurement queen,” Katie Delahaye Paine, and I will be doing so again later this week in Detroit, showing just how you can put together a simple yet strong measurement program (for both traditional and social media), that links back to your organization’s bottom line. That’s our “point of connection.” We hope to see you there.

By Shonali Burke, ABC, was named one of the top “40 Under 40” PR professionals in the United States by PRWeek in 2007. A self-confessed measurement fiend, she is reveling in submerging herself in social media, Web analytics and other extra-curricular activities while taking a sabbatical to ponder the next stage of her career. Shonali is a part of the PRSA 2008 Conference Blogging team and putting faces to the Twitterati she follows. (Yes, on Twitter.) Owned by three former shelter dogs, Shonali lives with her husband in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

For coverage on the PRSA 2008 International Conference: The Point of Connection visit

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Shonali Burke

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