A 3-Step Plan to Get C-Suite Buy-In for Your PR Metrics


Which key performance indicator keeps your boss happy and your organization successful? The answer depends on who you ask.

For sales teams, lead generation is of utmost importance, while the C-suite focuses on the bottom line and human resources prioritizes workplace reputation. Communications professionals, though, are charged with planning and executing campaigns that touch multiple parts of a business and depend on everyone’s buy-in, regardless of those stakeholders’ views on what indicates success for the organization.

Kieran Fagan, Vice President, Communications, Aetna
Kieran Fagan, Vice President, Communications, Aetna

Kieran Fagan, vice president of communications at Aetna, leads his team’s communications strategy while consistently reporting back to his leadership on the business impact of his initiatives. For Fagan, successfully communicating and using key performance indicators across a business relies on a unique combination of training, transparency and planning.

Fagan, who will be speaking at PR News’ Measurement Conference April 16-18 in Philadelphia, shares three steps to leveraging KPIs internally and externally below.

Train all communications staff on measurement basics. “A lot of measurement standards come from the world of marketing,” says Fagan. These include click-through rates, time spent on page, basic web metrics and email metrics, all of which he calls tools of the trade that don’t vary much from one company to another. Fagan says targeting is an important skill, too: “If we’re looking at specific counties, we need to know which of them are responding to what content,” he says.

Make sure your team is on the same page. Fagan stresses the importance of getting everyone on the communications team in one room “to make sure you have a collective baseline understanding of what’s measurable.” He says aligning those goals has to come before choosing KPIs and reduces the chance of senior leaders coming back later with “I never agreed to this” or “I don’t understand.”

Sharpen your communications measurement skills at  PR News’ Measurement Conference April 16-18 in Philadelphia with case study presentations and how-to training led by measurement experts from SAP, Comcast, KPMG, United Way and more.

Get the C-suite on board with proactive messaging. “After your team is aligned on KPIs, I wouldn’t suggest going to the business side and asking, ‘What should we be measuring?’” says Fagan. “Instead, get ahead of it and say, ‘Here’s what we think we should measure.’” Fagan argues that before meeting with senior leaders, communicators must be ready with a point of view on what is going to be the most meaningful metric—and be ready to explain its business impact. “Be clear on what’s in it for them and the business,” he says.

Follow Kieran: @KieranFagan