Not Just Another Measurement Dashboard Post

Getting Real about Media Measurement Dashboards

Let’s be honest PR community, we’ve all seen the headlines. They pop up on your Tweetdeck stream every five seconds. I can literally see the headlines in my dreams.

PR dashboards that really communicate

PR dashboards that will save your job

Not using dashboards? Here’s the five metrics you need

Tips and tricks for the perfect Measurement Dashboard

And when you click on these headlines, 95% of the time the advice is just terrible. We have no one to blame but ourselves, measurement community. Measurement companies have beaten us to death with these types of headlines over the last several years as said companies have beefed up their automated dashboards to spit out bogus metrics to “wow” PR professionals. While those bogus metrics will probably keep your boss content, especially if coupled with some flashy charts, how realistic or accurate are they?

So, what if the current crop of dashboards doesn’t meet your needs?  What if your business needs more from a dashboard? What if your business needs accuracy and reliable measures? What if someone told you those headlines, nor automated services, will save your job? In the end, you need quality data (paid, earned, shared or owned media results, and true metrics, to generate reliable PR measurement… dashboards or otherwise.

Metrics word cloud

Metrics word cloud

If you are truly looking for a starting point to crafting your custom dashboard, please keep reading!

  • Dashboards do work well for housing and communicating measurement data and results, but anybody who directly tells you “We have the exact five metrics you need for your dashboard to communicate business value” without knowing your overall strategy overreaching their expertise. Dashboards are NOT one size fits all and it is 100% likely that three out of the five metrics that they will propose to you are completely irrelevant to your overall goals. Your measurement dashboards should communicate a story. Not just numbers to wow your bosses. Anyone can create fancy charts and graphs, but communicating true value through a dashboard is not done from a stock template.
  • There is no perfect metric that you can implement into your dashboards to communicate overall PR value. It is likely a large mix of metrics that will tell the greater story. Remember that! Numbers without context are irrelevant. Pardon the heartbreak PR Pros, but there is unlikely to be an absolute metric that that will truly provide an holistic view of how your efforts are performing. Here at Universal Information Services, we stand by our Impact Score as a very solid metric, but it is not the “be all/end all metric”  Instead, The Impact Score helps guide the measurement conversation by incorporating three important aspects of media coverage, not just looking at coverage in a vacuum.
  • Not Just Another Measurement Dashboard PostRelying on automation has become a problem in the PR measurement community. Don’t get me wrong, automation has it’s uses. But there are some aspects of analysis that automation cannot handle, such as 95% accuracy when coding for sentiment within a dataset. At times, automated services can’t track specific topics correctly without pulling in a bunch of irrelevant data, thus skewing your measures. Humans should manage the entire process from step one to the final step.  This will ensure accurate metrics, not to mention sustainable value for job security. Communicating true ROI and campaign effectiveness can be sped up by automation, but be sure to give your analysis the human touch it needs to be valid.
  • If your team is measuring social media and implementing certain metrics into your dashboard, don’t be distracted by flashy terminology. Make sure the metric parameters are clearly defined, so when your boss asks what they mean (or asks for an explanation, clarification, etc.) you can simply respond with a short, punchy definition that conveys not only the number value – but how the metric is helping measure>

How to Help the PR Professionals

Of course, there are many more things that we could discuss about this topic, but this short article is more of a plea for PR professionals to watch out for these things when considering a dashboard reporting platform. Whether you are a solo practitioner, work at a large PR agency, or are a part of a Fortune 500 PR team – keeping these ideas in mind can guide your campaign planning from the start.

Seasoned professionals, what do you think on this topic? What wisdom would you share to a fellow PR professional that is in the starting stages of building a custom dashboard?

Austin Gaule PR measurement director Universal Information Services

Tweet me your thoughts and comments at @austinomaha and be sure to find me at the PR News Measurement Conference in Washington, D.C. Our team will be hanging out at the National Press Club this Friday and I’m always happy to discuss measurement. #PRNews



  1. Katie Paine on April 23, 2017 at 9:28 am

    How does your impact score account from every organization’s differing definitions of impact?

    • on April 23, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Great question, Katie. When on boarding a measurement client we consult with them at a deeper level to ascertain their objectives, key messages, and an anticipatory set of outcomes. Through a formula based on quantitative and qualitative measures, assigned by trained analysts (humans), we are able to generate a correlated metric that allows them to view their efforts from one period to the next. We do break this out by message and media type, as needed by the client and as a reflection of their objectives. As you know, we’ve seen several other measurement services try to adopt an impact score in more recent years. Some of the other scores are good, others are junk, the key is whether or not it passes the “smell test”, but also has transparent data for validation of the score. I wished I had stayed longer at the Friday Fete, we could have talked more. Cheers! -TM