In the meanwhile, here’s my take on the state of PR measurement today.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a large rock, you are aware that the public relations industry has only recently crawled out from the dark ages of measurement into a new period of enlightenment that will enable us to demonstrate to CEOs—convincingly—that our work directly benefits their hallowed bottom lines.
Admittedly, this is easier said than done.
To date, just four companies have embraced the interim standards proposed by the same PR groups that came up with the Barcelona Principles a few years back. (If you don’t know what the Barcelona principles are, you’re still hiding under that rock.)
Those four companies, incidentally, are General Electric, McDonald’s USA, General Motors and Southwest Airlines. They are testing standards developed in 2012 by The Coalition for Public Relations Research.
In fairness to PR professionals, it’s not that we haven’t been measuring. It’s more that we haven’t been measuring according to any accepted industry standard. Nor, for that matter, have we been measuring very well. The new prophets of measurement tell us that the media clippings and impressions game, though still in use, is fast coming to an end.
In this new world of measurement, we face a daunting challenge. We must set measurable goals at the start of PR programs and campaigns and then, at their conclusion, measure meaningful outcomes to show how we have achieved those goals. And the goals we set, ideally, should be tied to the bottom line goals on which our employers’ or clients’ success and survival depends.
But here’s the rub. In order for meaningful outcomes to be measured, we must begin our PR efforts with a baseline understanding of the attitudes and/or behaviors of the target audiences or “publics” we seek to influence.
Now it’s our job not only to move the needle of public opinion and behavior, but also to demonstrate that WE moved that needle.