In this episode of the ‘Talk Life Science Marketing Analysis’ podcast, I interview the award winning ‘Queen of Measurement’ Katie Paine. Katie has over three decades of experience in the measurement world working with most big name brands you can think of.
Firstly we discuss Katie’s journey into measurement. She describes her early career in Silicon Valley, where she wasn’t being convincing when telling people what to do, without charts, graphs and data. Katie outlines the need for marketers and communicators to use graphs and data when talking about impact in order to resonate with scientists. She started using data, and that resulted in bigger budgets.
We then explore the evolution of the PR measurement industry. Historically it has been unclear who was responsible for measurement. Most people felt that you can’t measure PR and therefore did not put budget to it. No one wanted to be held accountable for PR results. Combine this with the fact that PR people are not data people, and PR measurement was slow to take off. It was not until a recession hit, that people had to justify their existence. Budgets started getting cut, so they needed to put numbers around what they were doing. Ultimately, if you can’t measure it, it is budget down the drain. PR is seen as a necessary evil. people who hate talking to the media the most, are the scientists who need to be doing it.
The conversation led onto the topic of PR having an identity crisis. Most companies do not understand that PR is more than a press release. For many, it is synonymous with responding to a crisis. Every company is vulnerable to a crisis, therefore they need to be prepared, and measurement is a crucial element of this. Companies need to listen if a crisis is about to happen, evaluate it, and then have a process for how to use the data to respond. We discuss this in the context of life sciences, where the biggest driver of measurement is regulation.
Katie goes on to discuss the relationship with IR and communications and the impact of short sellers using PR to affect a stock price.
I ask Katie how do life science companies use measurement strategically? The answer: competitive analysis. Measurement helps companies to benchmark against their competitors. Who has the most share of desirable voice? Who is the threat? What does a customer believe versus what the company is saying?
This leads us into the risk of using incorrect measures to evaluate PR impact. For example, impressions versus actual customers seeing the messages. AVE, no of clips, impressions. No of clips versus target audience resonance metrics. Katie tells a story about a company using Ad Value Equivalency metrics, that had to reach a certain $ number for every quarter. The head of comms targeted the most expensive publications like WSJ to achieve her numbers. The problem is that the target audience is teenage boys and they very rarely read the WSJ…
I asked how Katie would recommend a life science to start connecting sales with PR? She recommended facilitating a conversation with key stakeholders about what they expect PR to achieve. How do they think PR contributes to sales? Then develop criteria that makes up a ‘good article’. This provides a quantitative scale to analyze media coverage against. PR people need to understand that they are in competition with every other marketing team. Who gets their messages across for less money? All departments are competing for budget, therefore good measurement and metrics are essential.
We then explore how to approach measuring events. Critically, companies must do pre and post studies. You need to know where you were to begin with. Measures include awareness and perception of the brand, likelihood of recommending the brand. How likely are you to purchase etc. Ultimately a company has to look at cost per lead to really understand impact.
Top tips include: Be clear on objectives up front. Have the data to inform. “Don’t call it measurement, call it research.”
ROI (or return on investment) as a metric is discussed. Katie recommends getting your stakeholders to consider what do they consider return, investment etc? Ask them if they will have faith in the answer that you provide, because in most cases they will not. Companies should alternatively find an acceptable proxy for value.
We then discuss getting access to the data required for accurate measurement.
Katie’s advice to agencies: don’t do business with companies that will not give you access to Google Analytics. It is crazy not to share the data and benefit from the economic value of it. What if the companies don’t yet have access to the data?
You need 3 months worth of data to get started. One of Katie’s tips is: don’t sign a contract until know what your objectives are. If you are already contracted but not getting the data you need – change your objectives or get the data by another means. All the boardroom care about is market share, stock price or sales, and comms need to fit into that. Communicators have to speak the language of the boardroom.
Finally we explore Katie’s biggest marketing failures and successes. Her failure? Not following own advice. And top advice? Stop doing the stupid stuff! Beware of large numbers. sometimes all you need is the 10 customers that matter, not the million impressions….
Listen to this podcast to learn more about PR measurement in the life sciences.