Public relations programs are increasingly focused on building relationships with stakeholders and influencers, particularly in the area of public affairs and issues management. But measuring “stakeholder engagement” — a less tangible aspect of public relations than “traditional” measurement, such as media impressions — has been a challenge for PR practitioners. But, if you consider – in advance – what it is about these relationships with stakeholders that makes a difference, and drives an organization or program toward its objectives, the task becomes infinitely easier.
Measuring stakeholder engagement can’t happen in hindsight. Rather, before your program even begins, have clear program objectives that stakeholder engagement helps achieve. Think about what actions stakeholders can take on in support of program objectives and put in place a system to track them in a quantified manner.
Once you’ve identified the activities, tier them. Determine which activities signal the most proactive support and which ones signal more implied support. With your stakeholders, is it more or less important/valuable to have them Tweet about your brand or participate in a particular event? Make yourself think critically about what actions will yield the best return in each instance.
Lastly, compare these measurements over time to help identify opportunities with particularly active stakeholders, or identify trends and opportunities for improvement with less engaged stakeholders. Don’t measure for the sake of measurement; make sure the findings help benchmark and inform future programming.
We’re proud to have been recently awarded “Best in PR Research” honors by Ragan’s PR Daily for innovative work in this space. If you’d like to learn more about how to integrate knowledge from research into the communications process at every level for insight, strategic planning, program development and evaluation, contact Marianne Eisenmann.