First published in The Measurement Standard, this is an interview by Editor Bill Paarlberg with David Geddes, Managing Director of Geddes Analytics and past Chair of the IPR Measurement Commission of the Institute for Public Relations. He is Chair of the Coalition for Public Relations Research Standards, the group of industry leaders that have developed standards for the measurement of public relations.
The Measurement Standard: Hi David, how’s the standards pledge coming along?
David Geddes: 70 organizations have taken the pledge so far. You can see them all listed on the IPR site. Several major corporations, General Motors, General Electric, Southwest Airlines, and McDonald’s USA, have already educated their internal teams and measurement partners about standards, and the company’s expectation that measurement partners will comply with the standards. To facilitate learning about and using the standards, on the IPR standards website we have full documentation about the standards themselves, as well as some useful papers, articles, and a generic PowerPoint presentation on the whats, whys, and how-tos of standards. On the site you can also fine generic text for clients to use in RFPs and for measurement partners to use in reports indicating compliance to standards.
TMS: As a practical matter, what are people actually committing to or saying when they pledge? Does that mean they are fully compliant? Does it mean they intend to develop a plan that will move them toward compliance? Does it mean only that they support the idea of standards?
D.G.: When people pledge, they are simply stating a commitment to the standards. This does not mean immediate compliance, as it may take some time to update their processes and educate their staff. This does mean having a path to compliance. As we have often stated, the marketplace will be demanding adherence to the standards. There is no auditing or certification process.
TMS: What’s in it for them? Yes, they are supporting a worthwhile and worldwide initiative. But — as a practical, immediate matter — what do they gain by making their support public? Why should they step forward right now?
D.G.: By signing the pledge right now they are showing the world that they are at the forefront of measurement. When their name goes up on the page, they are standing up for the latest thinking and best practices of our industry.
And , of course, by using the standards, they gain several benefits. For instance, in my many years at an agency, we spent many hours educating clients and debating technical issues. On such matters, for instance, as what constitutes a media “hit” (or “item” in new terminology). Standards provide these definitions, and so will immediately save time and confusion. There should no longer be the need to debate these issues, as measurement providers are expected to adhere to the standard definitions.
Here’s another benefit.For smaller companies and agencies without in-house measurement experience, and wanting to start up on their own, the standards will save time and thus money. The standards provide a set of guidelines, definitions, process, and protocols — in effect a manual for public relations measurement — that will get a measurement program up and running rapidly.
TMS: Thanks for talking with us, David.
D.G.: You are welcome.