Mark Weiner, CEO of Delahaye Medialink Worldwide wrote an article in Communications World called Six Sigma: Applied Research for Improved Public Relations. It offers a great overview of how Six Sigma can be used in nearly any business, and demonstrates how small, measurable things (and plans to improve them) can yeild dramatic results. The article includes this list:
Six Sigma Project Ideas for PR:
Reduce time for press release approval
Improve media targeting (identify media that have proven reach among your target audience).
Assess journalists' preferences and satisfaction with current PR initiatives
Assess “internal client” preferences and satisfaction with current PR initiatives
Improve the ratio of releases sent versus releases used
Improve the ratio of placements featuring critical messages
Improve the ratio of placements featuring a company spokesperson
Improve the ratio of stories featuring visuals or graphics
Improve the ratio of stories that are either exclusives or feature-length
Improve the ROI of event sand event sponsorships
For agencies, improve percentage of billable hours
Rather than tackling "improve our reach" or "cutting costs," measures like these seem a lot easier to tackle. I bet you can think of ways to improve these measures off the top of your head.