Wednesday, 30 March 2011

How Do You Measure PR?

PR Measurement is critical and not an option!
I have found recently that in doing assignments, with limited word counts, that one of the shortest sections, if not the shortest section is usually the Evaluation and Measurement section. Much goes into the strategy and tactics sections, with details going into the appendices, but the poor Evaluation section suffers.

In real life, it shouldn't and it is the reason I have decided to look at PR measurement, specifically social media in PR measurement for my dissertation. Evaluation is nothing new, but with all the buzz about social media, all the hype and gloss, many people are interested in the question - how do we measure this thing? I am interested in it.

Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs)
have no place in PR measurement
There are still so many nebulous areas where measurement is concerned and not enough standardisation. PR Week recently announced it would not considering AVEs as a measurement criteria for its annual awards. The Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) has also been steadily campaigning to do away with the AVE as a standard for PR measurement.

Evaluation and measurement of PR is nothing new, so why has the PR industry taken so long to make its own mark on evaluating what it does, rather than using metrics from other disciplines as a benchmark? And like my assignments, why do we shy away from research and evaluation, while paying a great deal of attention to tactics? I would think that one would lead to the other and to the other - A to B to C.

And now with social media, which may still come across as fluffy stuff to some senior executives, that we have now really been focusing on proving its value and showing how it can be evaluated, the whole question of measurement of PR in general seems even more critical. The Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles was released in June 2010, and for the PR industry, it is a good first step:

  1. Goal setting and measurement are fundamental aspects of any PR programme
  2. Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs
  3. The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible
  4. Media measurement requires quality and quantity
  5. AVEs are not the value of PR
  6. Social media can and should be measured
  7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.

So it is in honour of my abbreviated evaluation sections over the past few months, and out of a genuine interest to see what my peers are doing in real business cases, that I will be pounding the library and the doors of industry to find out, what are we doing, how are we doing it in terms of PR/social media measurement.


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Thanks for your comments and questions!

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