The PR profession has taken a fair amount of flak in recent years for failing to measure its activities properly. Much of this is due to a lack of progress beyond that most resilient of measurement units, the Advertising Value Equivalent, or AVE. In the summer, a couple of industry heavyweights, Mark Westaby and Philip Sheldrake reported in PR Week that little had changed in the last 20 years.
If that is the case, it is a frightening – and damning – statement as the comms world has changed beyond recognition in the same timeframe. Indeed, even a much shorter timeframe has seen fundamental changes that are crucial to the industry – principally the arrival of digital media, social media and mobile technologies. The way consumers digest news has changed for ever.
You can look at this evolution through very different lenses. An old-world, pessimistic lens may regard this as challenging and confusing – how does the industry cope with such monumental changes to its business model? But a new-world, optimistic lens can see great opportunity – to consign bad practice to history and embrace new ways of communicating and measuring the communication.
New “converged media” communications may have additional measurement challenges such as attribution, but they also have significant advantages via the analytics that can be run on definitive output data.
Public relations and communications in general is too complex to boil its measurement down to one single universal measure, but progress is being made, particularly in these areas:
- In getting beyond outputs to measure business outcomes
- In using analytics to quantify specific outputs and outcomes
- In establishing a new framework for practitioners
- In defining standards for social media measurement
- In setting an agenda for globally agreed standards for research and measurement in PR
So the industry is waking up and recognising the opportunity – the positive lenses appear to be on. It is a great time to be involved in this space as there is so much positive development with exciting times ahead.
This only scratches the surface. If you would like to dig a little deeper and also pick up some more practical information on various tools and resources, my presentation to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Scotland is right here:
Which lenses are you using?