PROVING VALUE IN AN INTEGRATED WORLD

WHY WE NEED TO MOVE FROM MEASURING OUTPUTS ONLY

Richard Bagnall

Richard Bagnall

Board Director AMEC,
CEO PRIME Research UK

There are a number of reasons for why the industry needs to move on from its past focussed on content analysis as a proxy for measurement of communications activity. Like it or not, we live in a world where many of the metrics that were relied on in the past to measure communication effectiveness are losing their relevance.

The media universe is expanding in terms of channels and outlets, but contracting in terms of audience and attention. As channels fragment across paid, earned, shared and owned, counting the old output metrics alone like volume, impressions and reach accurately and meaningfully is becoming more and more difficult.

Not only is there the challenge of sourcing accurate data from media that in some cases keeps this information private, but in the online world many of the numbers returned are easy to gain and cheat. As a result, volumes and impressions can no longer be looked upon as particularly meaningful metric much beyond being interpreted as essentially an index.

At the Norwegian annual PR Conference in March 2016 I gave a short 20 minutes presentation where I elaborate on this further – and don’t worry, it’s in English!

When these challenges are coupled with the new reality of the integrated world where PRs are expected to be comfortable working across paid, owned, shared and earned media it is clear that we need to move our thinking on. We must move from basic output counting alone to proving the value of our efforts by looking at the outtakes and outcomes that are derived from our work.

AMEC’s Integrated Evaluation Framework does exactly this – it sets out a clear and easy to follow method for telling the story of great PR from objectives to target audiences, to planning, targets, activities, outputs, outtakes outcomes and business impact. Only when the PR sector looks to measure the entirety of its effect will it be able to answer key questions about its performance in meaningful and credible ways.

WHY MEASUREMENT MATTERS

THE GLOBAL PR AGENCY VIEW

Giles Peddy

Giles Peddy

Group Managing Director
UK, LEWIS

For many years, the word measurement would send communication professionals running for the hills. Or for a drink. I can almost see it now. A shuffling of papers, a cough, and a playing with that lever on the chair that seems to have no discernable function. Anything to avoid the uncomfortable truth that we have not been great at measurement.

But the winds have been changing in the last few years. The increasing recognition of the strategic value of communications in the boardroom, as well as ever growing demands for budget justification needing to be linked to business impact has seen measurement become more important.

However, I would still argue that the lack of process, methodology, standards or a clear taxonomy of what constitutes good measurement has held the industry back. This is particularly the case inside agencies which more often than not do much of the measurement and evaluation work (in collaboration with third party suppliers).

This low adoption of a clear measurement framework means that in many cases the measurements are focused on the PR outputs and PR outcomes. But what about the business outcomes? How has this campaign or activity impacted awareness? Has it increased advocacy? Has it seen a shift in end-user adoption? Has it led to an increase in demand for the product or service?

This level of measurement is still in the minority (albeit growing). But in my opinion, and this is an agency perspective after all, we must always be asking and most importantly answering the simple question – ‘how is this work going to help my clients business?’

Whatever the business objective is, that is what should be focused on, and measured. By knowing what matters to the business means we will be better placed to build the relevant metrics framework.

This is why the the new Interactive Valid Metrics Framework by the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) is so vital for agencies (and client-side teams) to embrace and adopt. The new interactive framework gives users a clear methodology and taxonomy to develop a clear, measureable communications plan, and evaluate its success. It gives users of the tool a clear journey, and most importantly a way to demonstrate the business impact.

Many will say that to show business outcomes, you need to get data from many parts of the organization. Yes, you do. But by using the interactive tool, at least you know what those measures might be, who may own them, and how they fit into the integrated communications efforts you are so often espousing to your clients that you deliver!

And so this is why clients need to ‘show us the data’. If we have access to the data we can measure our work in a much more strategic manner. It presents opportunities for skilled professionals to unearth new insights that might inform a campaign, change approach, and drive more impact.

Of course, it is hard sometimes to show what each individual piece of the marketing mix delivered, but more often than not using the right tools can give you a good idea. Ultimately, where there’s a clear framework, there is a way.

So while the conversation around measurement can seem uncomfortable for many: I say don’t let it be. Put it front and centre, and use it to drive really good business conversations. Use the new Interactive Valid Metrics from AMEC as your compass. The winds of change are happening. Set your sails and move forwards into a new world of measurement.

HOW PR HAS CHANGED

WHY INTEGRATED COMMS MATTERS

Shonali Burke

Shonali Burke

President & CEO,
Shonali Burke Consulting Inc

When I keynote, I often lead with a joke, or few. And the one that gets the most laughs starts, “How many PR pros does it take to change a lightbulb?”

I’m not giving away the punch line (there are several!) here; I’m sure your imagination can fill in the blanks. But the sad truth is that as an industry, PR has really dug itself into a media relations hole. And, with it, the measurement thereof.

No wonder other professionals still make fun of us. If we ourselves persist in sitting atop some siloed plateau, still talking about “buzz” without thinking of how that buzz supports business objectives, why should any of our colleagues in related communication disciplines take us seriously?

I truly believe that the advent of social technologies has been a lightning bolt for the industry. Look at the myriad ways people communicate these days; it’s really remarkable! And it was the realization of how powerful social connections can be that drew me to “Social PR,” which has been shaping my practice and teaching of the discipline. That’s how I came up with my “7C Social PR Framework,” the foundation of my Master Course.

At its core, Social PR is the embodiment of integrated communications, because you’re bringing together earned and owned media, even paid and shared; social and traditional; online and offline; conversation, content, and community. And you focus on building and motivating communities – using whatever tools and tactics you need – to internalize and tell your story for you.

To see Shonali’s case study click here.

THE PESO CHANNELS.

WHAT ARE THEY AND WHY THEY MATTER

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich

CEO
Arment Dietrich Inc

According to Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” This can be applicable to every kind of work environment, including PR firms or communications departments. But it’s not applicable solely to organizations; it also can apply to  a communications strategy.

That is why the PESO model was born. It stands for paid, earned, shared, and owned media and it takes an integrated approach to communications so we can measure our efforts to things organizations really care about, such as more customers, increased revenues, better profits, or new donors. It’s time for our efforts to be seen as an investment versus an expense, and the PESO model—when used correctly—will get you there.

Unlike a car manufacturing assembly line, you’re going to start at the end…or with owned media.

In today’s world, almost nothing works without owned media in the center of your communications program. Journalists want to know that your experts have been published in other places. You don’t have anything to share on social media without owned media. You don’t have much to advertise online if you don’t have content to boost. And email marketing is a marked with an audible thud if you aren’t sharing something of value.

It is the center to everything you do and it’s impossible to have an integrated program without it.

Once you have a robust library of owned media, it’s time to shout it from the rooftops. In 2016, that means using shared media (social networks) for distribution and promotion.

There’s a new social media platform popping up every day, and you don’t have to be on all of them. In fact, you shouldn’t be on all of them. Do your research and establish your presence on the ones that make sense to your goals.

We’re working backwards, so earned media should be next, but it’s actually last. The next channel to focus on is paid media, which is exactly what it sounds like. This is your chance to amplify your message with advertising and reach new audiences for as little as $5 per day on each platform. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have their own native advertising options, and they usually offer coupons for first timers, which is even more incentive to give it a try.

You don’t want to put money behind every single post, so test it out once a month on each platform. There are, of course, other ways to get amplification for your owned media, such as email marketing, guest blogging, or contributed content.

Speaking of influencers,now it’s time to talk about earned media. No stranger to communicators, the relationships you earn are valuable for third-party credibility.

The power of word-of-mouth is undeniable, which is why earned media is a crucial part of gaining authority. These relationships take time, trust, and due diligence, so earned media may not give you immediate results, but when integrated with the other media types, will give you results more quickly than if used alone.

The PESO model isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy, but like the assembly line, it requires all of the channels to work together to garner real business results.

PERFORMANCE PUBLIC RELATIONS

DIGGING OUT DATA FROM SILOS WITHIN YOUR ORGANISATION IS CRITICAL TO HIGH PERFORMANCE PUBLIC RELATIONS.

Stephen Waddington

Stephen Waddington

Chief Engagement Officer
Ketchum

There’s a belief in public relations that measuring our work is expensive. Lack of budget is frequently cited as the reason for lousy measurement.

But the bigger cost to your organisation’s performance, and your own development, is not measuring the success of your work.

MEASURE ORGANISATIONAL PERFORMANCE, NOT MEDIA

The public relations measurement business has been built on traditional media metrics. These are no longer fit for purpose. At best they represent a poor proxy for business performance.

As practice shifts from traditional media as the primary form of public relations engagement, to a variety of digital and social media the business is getting smarter at measurement.

Paid, earned, owned and share media all leave an audit trail that can be interrogated.

Our opportunity is to define robust objectives, outputs, and outcomes for a campaign, and then to overlay a measurement framework and tools.

We now have access, unlike ever before to data sources and tools to measure outputs, and outcomes.

DIG OUT DATA FROM DEPARTMENTAL SILOS

The challenge is that data is frequently buried in silos within an organisation. Departmental budgets and political demarcation take priority over demonstrating performance.

I would urge you to around the silos without your organisation, and dig it out the data. Public relations needs to work with customer service, marketing and human resources.

Here are 30 places that you can seek out data within your organisation as the basis of a robust measurement framework.

INTERMEDIARY OUTCOMES

    ABOUT STEPHEN WADDINGTON

    Stephen is a partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum. He’s a Visiting Professor at Newcastle University. He blogs at wadds.co.uk.

    ‘IF YOU’RE FAILING TO PLAN, YOU’RE PLANNING TO FAIL’

    Kevin Read

    Kevin Read

    Executive Chairman &
    Partner, Bell Pottinger

    AMEC’s new metrics framework is a formidable piece of work that anchors powerful, relevant and useable thinking in a practical and easy to follow way.

    For Bell Pottinger, one of AMEC’s newest members, it is particularly helpful in laying out a pathway that our consultants can follow. It is helpful for conversations with clients on how to establish, plan and report on the effectiveness of campaigns.

    With the advent of digital and social as mainstream channels the complexity of many of the campaigns we run has dramatically increased. Not only does this mean we need to understand how to measure impact across a wider range of distribution channels, but we also need to be more fully aware of the consequences of multiple touch points.

    Equally, the framework continues to place considerable emphasis on understanding the business context and strategy that lay behind modern campaigns. Planning against organisational objectives clearly and methodically in advance of any activity is critical to success.

    In consultancies with a strong advisory practice, emphasis is placed on our partners and consultants having deep business knowledge of their clients and the sectors in which they operate. Such insights often come from a close interrogation of an organisation’s broad objectives and the context in which they have been set.

    Analytics that focus on the different approaches are also helpful. Understanding how paid, owned and shared activity sits alongside each other gives the communications planner a more comprehensive view of potential channel synergies.

    In hybrid teams, with different agencies represented there can sometimes be considerable challenges in drawing together all the relevant planning data. Trapping multi-channel outputs can also be difficult.

    The continued focus on looking at the initial reactions of an audience to communications, the subsequent effects and the long term impacts remains a strong and robust model that consultancies will be able to work with. The art with this model is to always be crystal clear about what metric or milestone you are trying to measure.

    It is still necessary to be cautious about causality; however, it is encouraging to see that long term impacts are firmly focused on reputation, relationships and change.

    At Bell Pottinger we will be confidently recommending AMEC’s new framework to partners and consultants across the business.

    TOP TIPS FOR PLANNING AND SETTING TARGETS

    Elayne Phillips

    Elayne Phillips

    Head of Civil Service Comms &
    Internal Comms, Prime Minister’s Office &
    Cabinet Office Comms, and Board Director AMEC

    THE IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING AND SETTING TARGETS

    Good measurement and evaluation can reveal insights that inform what you do next, findings can alter your campaign direction and influence which channels you chose to invest efforts in future and which you don’t.

    To maximise the benefits of communications evaluation, the key is to plan.  As early as possible, plan what you are going to measure, remembering to measure what matters against your objectives, and set up the mechanisms to commence tracking of the right metrics up front.  This is important for a number of reasons:

    If you don’t identify up front what is important to track, you may find later on that it’s impossible to retrospectively source the data you need.

    Planning your measurement activities will mean you don’t waste time tracking useless metrics or worse vanity metrics.

    Communications plans are most credible when they can demonstrate what success will look like and how that will be proven.

    Always use insights that come from previous evaluation, where it’s relevant to your next campaign, to help set targets.  At the planning stage, setting targets will provide focus and help keep measurement of progress on track.  So think carefully, set targets and track the right performance measures from the start of your activity.

    MEASURING REPUTATION

    FOREWORD TO: BEYOND REPUTATION MEASUREMENT: USING REPUTATION TO CREATE VALUE

    Kevin Money

    Kevin Money

    Professor of Reputation & Responsible Leadership, Henley Business School

    Reputation protection and enhancement are frequent goals and objectives which communication is asked to support. AMEC’s new integrated evaluation framework makes clear the importance of measuring reputation.  But how can you measure it meaningfully? How does reputation link to other performance criteria such as league tables and most admired rankings? How can you tell if your reputation is helping or hindering your organization in achieving its goals? How can you use reputation measurement to guide the strategy of your organization? How can you demonstrate that reputation is adding value to important stakeholders? How do different models of reputation measurement compare? How can different reputation models be combined to generate actionable insights? And how can you leverage existing data in your organization to demonstrate and improve your reputation?

    In this masterclass article by Professor Kevin Money of the Henley Business School he answers these questions by presenting reputation in a model of value creation. This practical approach will allow you to compare your current methods with best practice. It will also allow you to identify both the causes and consequences of reputation – and thus can help to guide organizational actions and future measurement initiatives.

    Richard Bagnall and Professor Kevin Money, June, 2016

    Click here to read Beyond Reputation Measurement: Using Reputation to Create Value whitepaper.

    Kevin Money and Carola Hillenbrand

    TELLING THE EFFECTIVENESS STORY

    Charlie Snow

    Charlie Snow

    Chief Strategy Officer, MullenLowe London

    Being a planner in the agency world for over 20 years, one of my key responsibilities has been to marshal the measurement of campaigns, and tell people what has worked (and what hasn’t) in our communications; feeding that information into the planning process in order to make even more effective communications next time round. And I have had many attempts at trying to convince people of just how successful our agency communications have been by writing and editing a number of effectiveness papers for various awards.

    On the other side, I have also sat in on many presentations and debriefs, and had the great privilege of judging prestigious effectiveness awards – listening to or reading the arguments put forward.

    All of which has convinced me of one thing above all else: you can have all the data in the world at your disposal, but if you can’t deliver the evidence in a clear, simple and compelling way, then you won’t be able to convince anyone of effectiveness. The way you tell it is as important, if not more so, than what you say.

    So, when trying to convince people of communications effectiveness, don’t just be an essay writer, be a storyteller.

    1. PLAN THE STORY

    Good stories have a strong narrative flow. I would strongly advise people to start with the new interactive framework being proposed by AMEC – it can provide the simple structure for your story.

    One of the most common flaws in effectiveness papers is the “data dump” – chucking all the stats at you at once, in no particular order. Human brains find it difficult to absorb that sort of information easily. Following the framework ensures you naturally break down your information and data into digestible chunks.

    It takes effort to break down your information. On the face of it, it can be quite confusing as to the difference between an “output”, an “out-take” and an “outcome”. But it really isn’t that difficult when you apply a bit of time to it, and follow the simple definitions provided.

    The framework enables you to make step-by-step connections between your communications, attitudinal and behavioural change, and the commercial or social effect. This is the biggest challenge for any effectiveness story: “how can you prove it was communications what did it?” The framework is designed to make the links easier to see.

    Once you’ve got your foundations and the narrative flow, then add some sparkle.

     2. ADD SOME SPARKLE TO THE STORY

    This is all about making the story interesting and engaging, lifting it beyond being dry information.

    Give your story a title. For inspiration, look to the very best ‘TED Talks’ – many of them have a simple headline to grab your attention; a headline that might be bold, inspirational, counter-intuitive – whichever way, it’s something stimulating and provocative that makes you want to listen or read on.

    From there, get to a one minute version of the story – the equivalent of the book dust jacket that wants you to read more; back it up with an extended five minute version with the headlines from each section of the framework, and finish with the full twenty minute version of the story. This process forces you to prioritise your information and data at each section. What’s the most impressive output, out-take and outcome you have?

    And finally, go for humanity and emotion to make stronger connections with the audience or reader; avoid weird marketing language or overly complex theories that might sound clever but often distance people.

    If you can get a strong narrative structure, and then add some sparkle, your effectiveness story can be well told, and become far more compelling and persuasive as a result.

    CONCLUSIONS

    NOW TELL YOUR MEASUREMENT STORY

    Elayne Phillips

    Elayne Phillips

    Head of Civil Service Comms &
    Internal Comms, Prime Minister’s Office &
    Cabinet Office Comms, and Board Director AMEC

    Measurement and evaluation should reveal a story, based on evidence, it should explain what has happened, what has worked, what hasn’t, and it should lead to actionable insights.  It is not simply gathering numbers, recording data and reporting – combined, they must showcase:

    • what the outputs have been and what activities you have carried out
    • what your target audience has taken from your communications
    • and what the outcome was against your objective.

    All of this should teach you a few things, sometimes in real time, sometimes afterwards when you look back, and sometimes both.  Learning from what channels are working well, what messages are achieving most engagement and which partnerships are producing the best outcomes should inform what you do next, and ultimately lead to stopping some activities and increasing others.

    To learn from the analysis, you must be completely honest about the findings.  Avoid using vanity metrics and remember that the more meaningful the evaluation, the more credible the measurement story will be.

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