April 30, 2013
What do Bill Gates and communications measurement have in common?
As the co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates helped create an entire industry that has transformed how we do our jobs and how we live every day.
Now, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he has also made huge strides in solving some of the world’s most difficult problems, improving the lives of millions.
In an essay based on his annual Foundation letter (The Saturday Essay, The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 25, 2013), Gates discussed the importance of constant measurement in eradicating many of the world’s worst problems.
“In the past year, I have been struck by how important measurement is to improving the human condition,” he wrote. “You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal.”
In particular, he wrote that clear goal setting and ongoing measurement have led to declines in child mortality, reductions in infectious and fatal diseases around the world, and improved education systems. I strongly recommend reading the entire annual Foundation letter when you have a chance.
His message is a timely reminder of the importance of goal setting and measurement in public relations.
Last fall, at the PRSA Measurement Symposium, Microsoft shared practical advice for others tackling the communications measurement problem. Rebecca Duffy, senior manager of corporate communications, offered this guidance:
Duffy’s comments about communications measurement reflect the headline of Gates’ essay in the Journal: “From the fight against polio to fixing education, what’s missing is often good measurement and a commitment to follow the data. We can do better. We have the tools in hand.”
As we learned at the Symposium, which will convene again at this year’s International Conference in Philadelphia, public relations has the ability to undertake excellent measurement programs based on clear goals linked to business objectives.
Surely if Gates can unlock the power of goal setting and measurement to help reduce childhood mortality, then PR pros can apply measurement to ensure that our profession is aligned to improving business and organizational performance.
Measurement’s annual big event is coming up in Madrid on June 5-7. It is the annual European Measurement Summit and will feature 45 measurement experts and company leaders from around the world.
The Summit, sponsored by AMEC and PRSA, features executives from Philips, IKEA, Cleveland Clinic, CARE International and Nissan, and leaders from top global PR and measurement firms. Please visit here to register.
David B. Rockland, Ph.D. is partner/CEO and managing director for the research and change communications businesses at Ketchum. He has held leadership positions in corporate communications and research throughout his career, with extensive global experience in both fields.
Email: AskDocRock at prsa.org