The inherent danger of one PR/marketing metric

As I’ve been traveling around the country, talking to different clients and join-us-as-clients, I’ve noticed an undue emphasis on a phenomenon that I call Single Metric Disorder. In short, Single Metric Disorder is the belief that everything you’re doing in your PR and marketing can be wrapped up succinctly in one number. For some traditional PR folks, they just want to deal with something like Share of Voice. Marketers typically care just about lead generation numbers, and sales guys just want to count closed deals.

Doctors with patient, 1999

Ask yourself this: if you went to the doctor, and he gave you just one number, would that be helpful to you? If you saw your physician and he said your general health index was 78/100, would that tell you what to fix and what’s okay, or would that just worry the daylights out of you?

Instead, when we go to the doctor’s office, we get an array of different metrics that measure different aspects of our health. Our vision may or may not be 20/20. Our blood pressure is a systolic number over a diastolic number. Our cholesterol is counted in LDLs and HDLs. Our heart rate and blood oxygenation are measured, as is our weight and BMI. Some of these numbers are leading indicators that have strong influences on other numbers, of course – our weight can dictate our heart rate, blood pressure, and our cholesterol counts, but those metrics are still important to know what specific systems in our bodies are being affected by our overall weight.

When it comes to measuring your PR, your marketing, your sales, or anything for your business, steer clear of Single Metric Disorder and focus on baskets of numbers that tell a complete story about the overall health of your business. If you as a PR professional don’t know what your customer service satisfaction numbers are, you may be wasting your efforts while another department in the company is being counterproductive. If you as a marketing professional don’t know what your PR team is up to, then you may be struggling to lift lead generation numbers without realizing just how bad the very top of the funnel (audience generation) is.

No one number can measure your PR or marketing program any more than one number can measure the overall health of anything else in your life.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


Keep in Touch

Want fresh perspective on communications trends & strategy? Sign up for the SHIFT/ahead newsletter.

Ready to shift ahead?

Let's talk