Saturday, August 25, 2012

Key performance indicator for in-house PR in matrix environment

My first experience of working in a complex matrix environment was way back in 1999. The job involved doing PR at the representative office of Motorola in Moscow. The representation, by the way, was of the company's German branch, Motorola GmbH.

Each business unit was represented in Moscow by a business development manager, reporting to her bosses, in Europe or in the U.S. and not to my boss, the office head. We two had a tough time trying to tie in the corporate interests with the individual businesses' ones. A worthy experience, indeed.

In my current function I oversee external tactical and strategic communications at RIA Novosti, a multimedia publishing house built around a news agency of the same name. The tactical side is handled by the Press-service, while the Center for external relations takes care of strategic partnerships. The Public Relations function is thus fully an in-house one.

The publishing house boasts one master brand and a host of other brands, in online and print media areas. The online brands feature a whole range of b2b and b2c products and projects. Also, a matrix of a kind.

Recently I have been asked by my colleagues from the Strategic planning to help them draft a set of key performance indicators, KPIs, for the two PR departments. There was little trouble compiling the initial list comprising the usual ratios for production of content and its impact, both tactical short-term and strategic long-term. However something was clearly missing.

That's when I remembered the days at Motorola's office in Moscow. Success of corporate events like press briefings, participation at expos and conferences directly depended, through synergy, on how many business units were supporting them. A separate thanks here to the then PR agency of record, Mikhailov & Partners. But it was the corporate department first selling then doing a service to the business units, not vice versa.

Bingo! What seems to be the missing KPI: the number of brands/projects embraced in a given period of time by PR activities as percentage of the total number of brands/projects relevant in the same period. IMHO, a proper in-house PR service should be motivated to strategically contribute to as many corporate brands or projects as possible.