Stephen's Wake Up Call moment

AMEC summit must take measurement message industry-wide

AMEC summit must take measurement message industry-wide

When Ketchum CEO Rob Flaherty delivers the keynote address at the 5th AMEC Summit on Measurement in Madrid from 5 to 7 June he’ll be preaching to the converted.

The delegates in Madrid are likely to be amongst the foremost experts in the world on public relations evaluation and measurement. The challenge for AMEC is to ensure that the content and discussions from the summit reverberate around the world.

The last time I spoke at an AMEC event I threatened to let off an air horn. It was a headline grabbing gesture to make the point that the public relations industry really needs to wake-up and realise that the measurement issue has been solved.

The measurement issue has been solved

The objectives of a public relations campaign should be aligned as closely as possible to the objectives of an organisation. Measurement should be tied to evaluating outcomes wherever possible.

Measurement should be baked into modern public relations workflow. It shouldn’t just be part of pre- and post- planning and evaluation but real time analytics should be a platform that underpins every campaign.

The simple fact is that anyone that says that public relations cannot be measured hasn’t investigated it properly.

The AMEC Conference in Barcelona in June 2010 created the Barcelona Principles. Following that, AMEC also produced the Valid Metrics Guidelines to help public relations practitioners chose the right metrics for different campaigns.

Public relations academic and educator Professor Tom Watson from the University of Bournemouth, UK, sounded a note of caution to anyone ready to celebrate a job well done on his blog last week.

“Having researched the history and practice of PR measurement and evaluation since 1992, this issue comes around again and again.”

Watson lists key evaluation milestone for the public relations industry back to 1905.

“My case is that practitioners have been offered well-developed methods of PR measurement and evaluation from at least the late 1970s onwards. […] It’s not methods that are needed, it is for practitioners to open their minds and change their behaviours.”

Public relations practitioners need to write measureable objectives for their campaign. That’s the first and fundamental requirement of a good measurement and analytics approach. It is also Barcelona Principle #1.

Aligning public relations with business performance 

Our next challenge is how we align public relations evaluation and measurement with business performance and get a place around the boardroom table.

That’s why AMEC has signed-up Booz Allen Hamilton and Deloitte. Next it needs to sign-up a broad cross section of analytics, consulting, research and measurement firms.

Measurement is a religion at Ketchum. It’s an area where we invest significant resource.

David Rockland, Managing Director of Global Research is chairman of AMEC and led the debate and discussion among more than 150 companies from 35 countries that ratified the Barcelona Principles in 2010, the first-ever set of standards for PR measurement, and both Don Bartholomew, who leads Digital and Social Media Research, and myself, sit on the AMEC Social Media Measurement Group.

I have absolutely no doubt that Rob Flaherty will be provocative in his keynote and make a significant contribution to the Summit in calling on practitioners to adopt measurement as a standard part of professional practice.

About Stephen Waddington

Stephen Waddington is a public relations consultant and writer. He is European Digital & Social Media Director at Ketchum, author of Brand Anarchy (Bloomsbury, 2012), and editor and contributor to Share This (Wiley 2012).