Meaningful Metrics: Finance for Communicators

 Meaningful Metrics


















June 2012

In order to understand the impact of efforts on the bottom line, communications professionals must assess their campaigns and initiatives. Along with qualitative and quantitative metrics, practitioners must apply the metrics used by their accounting team if they want to build a better profile, demonstrate the impact of campaigns and improve rapport with other departments within the organization.

The Lingo

  • Annual Report: a document issued by a company at the end of its fiscal year.
  • Balance Sheet: measures profits and losses over a particular “booking” period (e.g., yearly, quarterly, or monthly).
  • Hard Costs: typically fees paid to a vendor.
  • Net Earnings: or “bottom line” indicates profits after all costs have been deducted.
  • P&L Statement: details all of the profits and expenditures for a company over a specific period of time.
  • Sales Line: top-line of a P&L statement showing revenue. In more detailed reports, this section may be divided by specific areas of revenue (e.g., net sales or financial revenue).
  • Soft Costs: refer to intangible expenses or costs that are ambiguous and cannot be predicted.
  • 10K: contains more detailed versions of financial reports found within the annual report and is filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • 10Q: is similar to a 10K but lists information quarterly.

5 Tips for Non-Financial Communicators


Know the language. In addition to the terms listed above, you will also want to become familiar with concepts such as weighted average, cost per conversion, fixed asset, and liabilities vs. assets, among others. How to Read Any P&L Statement and Words Used in Financial Accounting are two articles that can help get you started.

Hug your chief financial officer (CFO). Even if you understand a little bit about how your company makes and spends money, you still need an advocate or peer on your side. Having an ally in your corner who is well versed in financial accounting and who understands the nuances of your particular company can benefit your team and can help promote unity throughout the entire organization.

Align your department’s communications strategy with your company’s annual operating plan. What is your organization’s mission and business strategy? Understanding key objectives and benchmarks will help you to formulate campaigns that support company-wide initiatives and better tie PR activities back to organizational goals.

Determine the loaded cost of a project. The cost of a project isn’t just the hard cost paid upfront to a vendor. For example, organizations subscribing to an unedited media monitoring service should factor in the loaded cost associated with having to pay an employee to cull through results of unedited coverage to produce the final sample needed to share in your reporting or executive summary. Knowing the impact of loaded costs will enable you to make better business decisions and maximize your budget.

Understand the disclosure regulations for your business. It is quite possible that as your company's or client’s key communications person you will be asked about the financial health of your company, even if you’re not the primary financial spokesperson. Knowing which financial information to disclose, if any, and to whom to direct questions can help you avoid inadvertently revealing something you shouldn’t. How to Talk Money (and What Not to Say) from offers some tips for non-financial communicators on financial reporting and what information one might reveal to the media.


Even if your business is a privately-owned company or a not-for-profit that doesn’t disclose financial metrics you should still be able to access some kind of balance sheet to help shed light on how your company makes and spends money. BurrellesLuce offers a variety of measurement options that include both qualitative and quantitative metrics that can help you assess the value of your communications efforts and translate them to your bottom line. Automated Reporting comes as a standard part of Burrelles Luce WorkFlow and is fully-integrated with our other media monitoring, planning, and social media monitoring services.

About BurrellesLuce

BurrellesLuce is the U.S. leader in media monitoring. Professionals in a wide range of industries rely on our comprehensive curated content from local and national print, online, broadcast, and social media sources. BurrellesLuce has a turnkey copyright compliance program that allows us to provide copyright-compliant, behind-the-paywall content not available to other services. BurrellesLuce combines grade-A content with easy-to-use software, allowing users to evaluate and analyze their media coverage and PR efforts. It's all integrated into our user-friendly interface, BurrellesLuce WorkFlow™.

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