Public relations: What’s new in measurement?
PIERRE GINCE, APR, AND CAROLINE ROY
Here are some of the questions we answer most often about PR measurement:
“Are organizations more sensitive to measurement than before?”
“Can we expect the demand for measurement by decision makers and communicators in organizations of all sizes to steadily grow?”
“Are there widely accepted methods in the PR industry?”
“Are advertising value and impressions still irritants?”
We recently attended the PR Measurement Conference in Washington to hear what North American experts had to say on this subject.
Organized by PR News, this exceptional conference brought together dozens of communications professionals sensitive to measurement. We were quite surprised to note that we were the only two from Quebec.
At the end of the presentations and round tables, this is what we came away with:
- Measurement is increasingly in demand
In general, organizations of all sizes in all fields are becoming more and more sensitive to measurement. To maximize the odds of being at the decision-making table, communications professionals rely on measurement of their media relations. They say that only things that are measured have a value.
Just a few years ago, managers of organizations rarely asked to have their communications actions analyzed and measured—only the results mattered! Today the reflex for measurement is quite common.
- There has been no consensus since Barcelona
Despite the adoption of the Barcelona principles in 2010, no industry-wide consensus has been reached on a PR measurement method.
Is this really surprising? Over time many firms, including ours, have developed measurement tools that take into account various criteria.
As in the chocolate chip cookie industry, everyone essentially uses the same ingredients, but each company jealously guards its recipe!
In Washington, nothing led us to believe that competitors would agree on an international measurement standard anytime soon.
- Two irritants: Advertising value and impressions
For many years, there have been two debates in the PR industry regarding media coverage measurement: one on advertising value, the other on the number of impressions.
With regard to advertising value, there are:
- Those who advocate using advertising rates as a significant basis for calculating qualitative data
- Those who are extremely opposed to even getting near such advertising data
- Those in between (measurement specialists) who use advertising value through a sophisticated formula—that’s what we do
With regard to the number of impressions, there are:
- Those for it, who take great comfort in potentially reaching millions of people with their messages
- Those against it, who feel that such dramatic data from the advertising and marketing industry should absolutely not be integrated into the measurements of PR professionals
If there are any irritants, it’s that tempers often flare between those who are “for this” or “against that.”
What is becoming increasingly clear is that aside from the few hardliners, there is a growing number of communicators who take into account the added value of PR measurement.
The best analysis method is still the one that enables managers to quickly understand whether or not their organizations’ communications actions have delivered results!