Public Relations Measurement: where’s it going?

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:

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:

Finally, I must thank Joe Walton of Real PR, Laura Berry of Holyrood PR and CIPR Scotland for organising the event and giving me the opportunity to present this subject.

Which lenses are you using?

[RSS subscribe]

  • I think the biggest winners are going to be businesses that a) have no bad press to worry about or b) have a counter-smear team to handle their reputation management. 

    Slide 10 is spot on, businesses no longer have control over what is said about them, but it is vital to have a reputation management plan when your brand is in the public eye. Most internet companies lead the way in this respect because they have been in the business for many years, but traditional businesses that have been able to dominate the media with their buying power are beginning to realise they no longer call the shots.

    I totally agree that businesses need to contribute to social media and that it has to be measured/monitored, but it’s a fine line between appearing false in social media and actually interacting with peers, clients and a target market. Obviously there are tools like InkyBee and Flauntt that can help generate a positive image and relationships among people in the same industry, but I think it’s important to have the right people using those tools if a business expects to get the good results. 

    • Thanks for the comment, Shaun, and I totally agree that there is still a knowledge gap in relation to how to engage effectively using social media in general, not just in how to measure the impact of it.
      It is interesting that your focus is on reputation management being very important, which it is, but there is also the wider ‘business development’ opportunity which, to my mind, is where small businesses in particular can garner greatest value from social forms of outreach: they don’t have the budgets to compete in traditional marketing, so the ability to reach and engage with an audience directly with good content using social channels is an opportunity to compete that was not available before.
      Thanks for stopping by and also for testing Inkybee. Do please keep giving our servers a bashing 🙂

      • Thanks Hugh, I wish I had more time to bash them some more lol

Previous post:

Next post: