How Did We Get to Measurement Week?

Frank OvaittThis is the first in a series of five blog posts for Measurement Week.

We’re getting there.  But how have we gotten to Measurement Week, which starts today?

The simple answer is:  The International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC) organized interested parties around the world to focus on the gap between understanding the value of PR measurement and putting that understanding into action.  PRSA, the Council of Public Relations Firms, IPR, the International Communications Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), trade media in our field and many notable communications research providers are joining AMEC to ensure the success of Measurement Week.  A week’s worth of activities can be found here.

The complex answer is:  We’ve been striving for decades to get to where we can have a week like this.

The public relations field has talked for decades about measuring and evaluating what we do – to help us do it better and win more resources.  Before the new millennium, we largely used measures of basic output, especially for media relations:  clips, coverage and potential audience.  At our worst, we leaned on ad value equivalency (AVE), which has nothing to do with the value of public relations.

The IPR Measurement Commission was created in 1996 as a think tank for best practices in research, measurement and evaluation.  The concept of measuring outputs, outtakes and outcomes took root.  Commission white papers (available on IPR’s free website) explored how to create measurable objectives, the fallacy of multipliers and more.  Don Stacks, Ph.D., current chair of the Measurement Commission, produced the Dictionary of Public Relations Measurement and Research, now in its third edition (with co-editor Shannon Bowen, Ph.D.) and in multiple languages.

AMEC also came into being in 1996 and has since evolved into a global trade association for communication measurement.  AMEC, the Global Alliance, ICCO, IPR and PRSA collaborated to produce the seven Barcelona Principles in 2010.  Most of these same organizations, joined by the Council of Public Relations Firms and the Conclave for Social Media Measurement, then formed the Coalition for Public Relations Research Standards to create a broad platform of PR research standards.  By now, standards are ready in the areas of traditional media measurement, social media measurement, communications lifecycle and return on investment.

The Coalition is now developing research and measurement standards in the areas of ethics, employee communications and investor relations.  But the organizations and people most involved in this work need your help in identifying what to do next, and whether the proposed standards are ready for prime time, on the Coalition’s shared web page.

Meanwhile, client organizations, agencies, research providers, trade media and universities that teach public relations research are committing to the standards.    You can too by clicking here.  (If you don’t see your research provider or agency on the list, you might want to ask why not.)

During Measurement Week, on a daily basis, the IPR Research Conversations blog will feature a client view of measurement, plus a deeper look at standards, social media measurement and analytics.  We’ll also share these posts through our weekly free research letter.  If you don’t already subscribe, you probably should.

Frank Ovaitt is President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations.

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