May 1, 2014
People often cite public relations’ “measurement problem” as the reason why our profession doesn’t get the respect that it deserves as a business tool. This implies that everything will be fine once the analytics experts stop playing with their pocket protectors and figure it out.
But public relations doesn’t have a measurement problem. Instead, it has an “unwillingness to measure” problem.
We know how to measure public relations. The elephant in the room is that many practitioners shy away from demonstrating and predicting results. Reasons range from fear of accountability to poor math skills and trouble expressing how PR activities contribute to an organization’s bottom line.
But this may be the year where those barriers crumble. PRSA, along with the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), have teamed up to change this paradigm.
Here’s what’s ahead:
Amsterdam, June 11-13
This is the leading event for new ideas in PR measurement, beginning with the Barcelona Principles in 2010. This year, we’re anticipating speakers and attendees from 40 countries, and an interesting change in theme.
The Summit’s focus is shifting to a broader focus on insight creation. In other words, how do we use both the left and right sides of our brains not only to develop great predictive approaches, but also to inspire award-winning communications programs?
Worldwide, Sept. 15-19
Organizations from countries around the world — including India, the United Kingdom, Spain, the United States, Australia, China and Brazil — are planning a series of events as part of AMEC’s Global Education Programme.
Activities will include a webinar series by Booz Allen Hamilton and new research on measurement trends to support workshops and seminars from AMEC partner organizations, including PRSA.
Washington, D.C., Oct. 12-14
The PRSA 2014 International Conference will focus on increasing ROI, insights and demonstrating value with actionable best practices. As in the last two years, AMEC and PRSA will team up to offer a symposium to teach measurement and showcase best practices, based on a huge array of client examples.
“We have received great input from both AMEC and PRSA members in shaping the content. We expect this year’s symposium to have a record number of attendees,” says Todd Grossman, co-chair AMEC North American Chapter and managing director for Precise Americas.
According to Allyson Hugley, co-chair AMEC North American Chapter and executive vice president of analytics for Weber Shandwick, AMEC and PRSA are working together to ensure that this year’s program builds on our past success by continuing to provide practitioners with insights into how to apply best practice communications evaluation to their own work.
“Both organizations are deeply committed to using research and data to inform and elevate the practice of public relations,” she says.
Chris Foster, an AMEC Board member and vice president, Booz Allen Hamilton, has spearheaded much of the measurement education initiatives with AMEC and PRSA. “We’ve finally gotten away from talking about ‘how’ and instead focusing on ‘when.’ The evaluation techniques are all in place, whether it is media measurement, establishing a measurable reputation framework or defining a clear return on engagement,” he says.
“We need to get PR practitioners comfortable in integrating these approaches as part of their programs. Once we do that, we’ll advance the profession considerably and move much closer to delivering business ROI.”
With AMEC and PRSA working together, this is the year to let that elephant out of the room.
Have measurement questions? AskDocRock@prsa.org
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