Industry needs a wakeup call, says Big Ask Speaker

AMEC launched its consultation exercise with European members, clients and PR professionals in November at a packed “Big Ask” conference in London. Speakers were outspoken in their views that the AMEC and Coalition initiative to develop global social media measurement standards was overdue. Click HERE to see pictures from the Big Ask conference.

The consultation timetable is:

  1. AMEC member comments to by 27 January, 2012: what do you believe should be the elements of global social media measurement standards?
  2. All comments will be reviewed/discussed by AMEC Social Media Measurement Group and Coalition
  3. March, 2012: Mid-way point Coalition leadership session
  4. Thinking and progress steps to be presented  at AMEC European Summit in Dublin: 13-15 June, 2012.

The man with a mission to drive things forward was Stephen Waddington, Managing Director, Speed Communications. He held up a powerful bullhorn to make the point that the conference was a wake-up call for the industry.

Stephen told delegates: “It’s time to be brave.”  He said the PR industry took a wrong turn in the 1950s when it focussed on the emerging mass media as a proxy to reach audiences. AVEs were born out of a desire for a simple means to prove the value of PR.

“We’ve 60 years of bad practice to unlearn. We must stop counting for the sake of counting. Measurement requires PR to be aligned to the metrics of the organisation.

“The client agency relationship isn’t necessarily the best place to look for innovation. It takes a brave agency to challenge a brief that prescribes a form of measurement such as AVE. There will inevitably a dozen agencies on the roster willing to comply.

“Two things needs to happen to begin to tackle this issue: the industry needs to align to bring together agencies, clients and measurement and monitoring vendors, and we need to break down the silo that isolates PR in an organisation. It’s time to be brave.”

The Big Ask conference was supported by the Chartered Institute for Public Relations, Public Relations Consultants Association, and Public Relations Society of America. It was sponsored by the Gorkana Group.

Richard Bagnall, Director of insights and analytics at Gorkana Group and chair of the AMEC Social Media Measurement Group, told delegates: “Leaving the conference, our commitment is to develop credible, meaningful & appropriate social media measurement standards that will be accepted internationally, that speak the language of business and demonstrate the value of this transformational communication channel.”

The London conference took place following a decision of delegates at AMEC’s European Summit in Lisbon in June, to make the development of global social media measurement standards a priority by 2020. Tim Marklein is leading a Coalition formed by AMEC, the Institute for Public Relations and the Council of PR Firms to lead work on developing the standards.

Another speaker, Philip Sheldrake, said: “I believe that AMEC’s “Big Ask” conference recognised the need to focus on establishing best practice in the measurement of public relations rather than, as may be perceived to date, the measurement of media. (Public relations is not a synonym for media relations.)”

“We also need to challenge the validity of pursuing ROI as the ultimate performance measure or some kind of holy grail when, as demonstrated time and time again in business performance management frameworks such as the Balanced Scorecard, assigning a dollar / pound / euro value to isolated activities bent on accruing or maintaining the value of an intangible asset (eg, reputation – which is of course the sum of many complex interactions) is both pointless and vexatious.”

The conference moderator Tim Marklein, Practice Leader, Technology & Analytics, at WCG and Chair of the new three party Coalition group which will develop the standards, told the conference: “I know from my own WCG experience that clients are hungry for expert guidance to navigate the changing media landscape”

Other speakers at the “Big Ask” were: Rosanna M. Fiske APR, Chair and CEO, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), GSC Program Director & Associate Professor; Nick Masters, Head of Online, PwC; and Joerg Kramer, MD and founder of Kantar Media Intelligence Germany.

Click here for presentation downloads. Please note not all speakers used PowerPoint presentation decks. Conference pictures available here. Video clips will be available soon in the AMEC website Knowledge Share video library.