Public affairs professionals are in charge of shaping public perception, influencing policy decisions, and navigating the intersections of government, media, and public opinion. It’s such a whirlwind profession that it can be easy to get swept up in the work and neglect measuring your impact. Or, more commonly, bosses and other decision-makers within your organization question the importance of public affairs — especially when the results aren’t as tangible as, say, a fundraising campaign.
Defining a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) at the onset of a campaign or the beginning of the year is a great way to get ahead of those conversations. Then, throughout the year, you and your team can look back at your KPIs to ensure you’re keeping pace.
Keep reading to delve into five essential KPIs for public affairs professionals, providing clear definitions and practical insights on how to track them effectively.
1. Performance Area: Policy Impact
- % of Bills Supported that Passed
% of Bills Opposed that Did Not Pass
Definition: Policy impact measures how your public affairs efforts have influenced the development or change in government policies, regulations, or legislation.
Tracking: Use a legislative tracking platform to easily track legislation and quantify how many bills you are monitoring in different regions — but only reporting on the number of bills you’re monitoring does not reflect your true work. Your KPI should focus on the outcome of those pieces of legislation. For example, the number of bills you supported that passed and vice versa.
Why It Matters: Timely issue and legislative tracking ensures that you are informed and prepared to respond to emerging opportunities or challenges related to your goals. Furthermore, showing the outcome of said legislation is a direct reflection of the effectiveness of your public affairs work.
2. Performance Area: Stakeholder Engagement
- # of Meetings with Lawmakers
# of Lawmakers Who Changed Positions
Definition: Stakeholder engagement involves tracking interactions with key stakeholders, including government officials, community leaders, and interest groups.
Tracking: Use a stakeholder management platform to record interactions, meetings, and stakeholder communications. Take it a step further and monitor social media engagement, email responses, and event participation. When meeting with lawmakers, make a direct connection between a policy or an issue.
Why It Matters: Building strong relationships with stakeholders is fundamental to achieving your public affairs goals, as their support can significantly impact policy decisions.
3. Performance Area: Media Impressions
- # of Mentions in Tier 1 Publications
# of Mentions in Tier 2 Publications
Definition: Media impressions refer to the number of times your organization or issue is seen or heard in the media. It quantifies your reach within the press.
Tracking: With Quorum’s media monitoring tool, you can define the keywords and phrases you want to track and save the mentions of those terms in auto-updating lists. When it is time to report on them, you can export visualizations showing who, when, and where your terms were mentioned.
Why It Matters: Media impressions help gauge the extent of your message dissemination and the overall awareness of your public affairs efforts.
4. Performance Area: Grassroots Mobilization
- # of New Advocates
- # of Active Advocates
- # of Grasstops Advocates
- # of Grassroots Actions Taken by Advocates
Definition: Grassroots mobilization tracks your grassroots advocates’ level of engagement and activation.
Tracking: Use an online advocacy platform to monitor and report on your total number of advocates and their actions on your campaigns. Go a step further by tracking the source where you acquired the new advocate and advocacy network growth over time.
Why It Matters: A robust grassroots movement can amplify your advocacy efforts and provide the necessary groundswell of support to influence policymakers.
5. Performance Area: Return on Investment (ROI)
- Amount Saved
- New Business Earned
- $ Value of Media Mentions
Definition: ROI assesses the value generated from your public affairs initiatives compared to the resources invested.
Tracking: Calculate the monetary value of outcomes, such as policy changes, media coverage, and stakeholder engagement, and compare them to the costs incurred in fighting for or against the legislation. The ROI can be in money saved by the business (i.e. preventing an expensive new tax on the products you sell) or new business earned (i.e. opening up a new market with trade policy changes).
Why It Matters: Demonstrating a positive ROI is essential for justifying allocating resources to your public affairs efforts and optimizing your strategies.
Effective public affairs management requires a strategic approach with KPIs to support your decisions. These metrics enable professionals to assess their impact, refine strategies, and adapt to changing dynamics in the public arena. By consistently tracking and analyzing these KPIs, public affairs teams can drive meaningful change, influence policy decisions, and achieve their advocacy goals.