One of the positive aspects of doing PR and marketing online is that there is a wealth of information available. 

Pretty much everything can be tracked.

This makes it possible to measure outcomes, not just outputs.

Back in the  summer a bunch of very smart PR and research folk met in Barcelona to discuss PR measurement at the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) summit.  AMEC is the global trade body and professional institute for agencies and practitioners who provide media evaluation and communication research.

At this summit they adopted The Barcelona Principles and made a very strong case for the need to move to more progressive measurements that show the organizational impact of PR activities:

* Goal setting and measurement are important

* Media measurement requires quantity and quality

* AVEs are not the value of public relations

* Social media can and should be measured

* Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results (outputs)

* Organisational results and outcomes should be measured whenever possible

* Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.

In this interview (it’s half way down the blog post) Philip Sheldrake, Chair of the Measurement Group at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, runs through the principles and interviews AMEC’s Executive Director Barry Leggetter and Katie Delahaye Paine of KD Paine & Partners (the ‘Queen of Measurement’!) about the principles and what they mean for PR practitioners.

One of the important ways analytics affects our profession is in the development of content.

Listening to the conversation is a given; digging into that data and extracting actionable insights that can drive content strategy and engagement is a skill PR folk have to master in 2011.

Building relationships is done through communication. That means developing good content.

PR content needs to include website meta tags, web page content and blog posts. PR folk should be writing Twitter and Facebook content, white papers, case studies and journalistic-quality articles.

Using data analysis to discover what content to create and how to deliver it can make the difference between just ‘throwing some content against the wall’ and hoping for the best, or developing a finely targeted and focused campaign that meets the information and emotional needs of your community and contributes significantly to the bottom line.

Good data mining uncovers opportunities and threats and flags trends and areas of interest.  It will identify all the influencers you should be working with. The PR team at SAP, the world’s leading provider of business software, found that while they were working with only 15 influencers, there were in fact 45 important people they should be engaging.

Although analytics have not traditionally been a PR function, the digital world is making it one of the most important skills you can have under your PR belt.