Confidence. In a list of words to describe a consultant, confidence would appear highly. Yet, Public Relations does not always come across as a confident industry.

This isn’t a rant. But…

The panel discussion that rounded off PR Week’s Breakfast Briefing on ‘Measuring the true value of PR’ this morning, the Head of Communications for Gumtree mentioned that the PR industry can lack the confidence to measure. The panel bounced this idea around for a while, before it was agreed that measurement isn’t perfect in broader marketing or advertising either.

It’s true, but isn’t it time the PR industry gained some confidence?

The subject of measurement has been on my mind for a while. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been fortunate enough to judge a handful of industry awards. Success tends to rely upon two main factors: if KPIs were outlined in the brief, and how a campaign was evaluated and met those KPIs. This often doesn’t happen – instead awareness and disguised AVE-esk metrics are snuck in.

It’s measurement that justifies our work, validates better fees, raising revenue overall – resulting in higher salaries. In the online advertising world if you can justify a sale (this is simple to track), then a client will give you more money to increase the volume of advertising… thus increasing sales.

Taking the definition of PR as a reputation management discipline, then its necessary to measure the impact of communications activity on reputation and evaluate the subsequent business impact (share price, for example).

Yes, outcomes matter.

Yes, AVEs are bad.

But…

How can I better align communications activity with share price?

What is the best way to manage the growth of dark social?

How are internal communications impacting external reputation?

AMEC is charging ahead with sterling work in measurement with its newly launched Measurement Maturity Mapper. The concept of providing a useful free tool that helps PR practitioners measure and evaluates their programmes is brilliant. Naturally, this form of open help and collaboration doesn’t often exist in such a competitive industry.

Honestly, this post isn’t about the PR Week Breakfast event today. To sell-out an industry event on measurement would never have happened a few years ago as CEO of AMEC, Barry Leggetter, observed. Instead, this post is a desperate plea to move the conversation from the last 10 years, forward. Let’s ensure everyone has covered the basics, but we can be confident today that PR can and should be measured.

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