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Tuesday / December 7.
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Five best practices to improve the critical art of reporting

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Reporting on results is too often a hasty afterthought, and PR reporting certainly comes with its own set of challenges. But reporting is a critical part of every comms job, and learning how to do it well can make the difference between being acknowledged for a job well done and being recognized for an exceptional effort.

When done well, reporting can help justify your budget, show the results of your hard work and pave the way for a promotion or raise. This is especially important as PR reporting grows to include the effectiveness of social media as well as other factors critical to the success of your business.

Often, report templates are inherited from a former colleague or are cobbled together over several years by many people. A better option is to start from a blank state.

Here are five best practices to improve reporting on PR campaigns.

Make it look sharp

It’s amazing how much credibility a good-looking report can generate. It’s worth the extra time and effort to create a visually attractive template that can be used regularly. Consider:

  • Keeping slides or charts simple, with lots of white space
  • Sticking to a few consistent, readable fonts and colors
  • Using color and bold type for emphasis

When it comes to the text in reports, less is more. Don’t over-bullet or over-explain. If you can tell the story in two sentences instead of four, do it.

Graphic design skills or resources aren’t required to keep reporting clean and simple. Here’s a sample template that you can use.

Summarize, synthesize, simplify

Select a few key metrics or findings and highlight those. If you are dealing with multiple dashboards containing dozens of numbers and pages of insights from the most recent campaigns, your job is to cut through that mass of data and boil it down to a few major takeaways. Make it easy for the higher-ups to immediately understand what’s important.

Provide context

Don’t expect numbers to speak for themselves; always include benchmarks or historical comparisons. How do current results compare to previous months or past campaigns? How do they compare to standards for the brand’s industry? Help your audience — whether it’s the PR team or company management — understand what these numbers actually mean.

Don’t hide disappointing results

Everyone hopes the metrics always go up and to the right — but sometimes they don’t. There are seasonal lulls, campaigns that don’t land, changes in markets, experiments that don’t work out. When the results are less than ideal, your job is to acknowledge the results, identify the causes and propose changes moving forward. Don’t shy away from bad news when reporting.

Tie everything back to business goals

Make it clear how the results impact the larger organization. Show how PR’s efforts are contributing to a quarterly goal or making progress on an important initiative. When possible, make clear connections to bottom-line business impact.

Making PR reporting — and any other comms reporting — easier to understand, more interesting to read and quicker to digest is not that difficult. These five steps will have an outsized impact on how your work is perceived.


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