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6 PR & social media questions from Twitter chat #Measurepr

Yesterday I was honored to be asked to answer the questions for #measurepr.

#MeasurePR was conceived by the inspiring Shonali Burke as a bi-weekly Twitter chat focusing on all things related to PR and social media measurement.  Shonali has spent her professional career as a PR practitioner working both in house and at agencies but she’s one of those people who ‘just gets’ the importance of measuring public relations meaningfully and correctly.

Shonali moderates the sessions and asks 6 questions but the wider public relations measurement community can all follow along via the hashtag and all are welcome to ask questions and make observations too.

Shonali’s 6 questions and my edited answers are below.  A full storify of all of the content is also available.


1. Globally, you’re one of the thought leaders in #PR measurement. How did you get interested in the field?

Bagnall: Before launching Metrica in the early 1990s I had worked in PR, both in-house and at an agency.  At the agency in particular we relied on a proprietary analysis system that provided AVEs and impact scores. I didn’t understand them. Worse, nor did my client! Even worse, they made me look silly in front of them as I couldn’t explain them.

I remember one awful moment trying to justify why a client’s AVE had gone up… driven by reams of negative press. Ooops. ;-)  Worse, we used to photocopy clips (remember those days?!) at 108% to increase the ‘thud factor’! :-) Just big enough not to be perceptibly noticeable.

I realised there must be a better way to prove PRs value. At same time I met 2 great business partners and Metrica was on its way.

2. What was an early learning experience in the field of #measurePR for you, and why?

Bagnall: So, first thing we did was remove all scores & indexes from our approach as they are invariably wrong and confuse people. Instead we made our analysis totally transparent and shaped specifically to each client’s specific requirements.

No two clients are the same with their needs, no matter how similar they appear to the outside world. Boiled it down back to the basics of communications – the objectives… - focused on this – PR is about getting the right message to the right target audience to achieve an objective…whatever that may be – footfall, sales, share price, downloads, reputation change etc.

If that’s the case, the answer is there – focus on measuring messages to the audiences and the outcomes from having done that.  Also learned many things about global pr measurement in which Gorkana (the company Metrica merged with) now excels.  It’s important to have a consistent global approach but respect needs of local markets which run at different speeds.  And to make sure that the pr measurement provided is future looking and can drive strategy. Not just a look backwards.  We call it insight, not hindsight…


3. Are there differences in #PR measurement in the US, UK & around the world? If so, what?

Bagnall: Yes, although gap is closing all the time thanks to the great work of trade body AMEC.  UK and USA markets have very similar levels of sophistication.  The USA market though is more likely to accept a ‘tool’ from a ‘vendor’ which by default means less tailored analysis to client’s specific requirements.  This is a great mistake in my view.  But there are many good practitioners also in the USA.

The UK is very focused on delivering analysis around target audience reach and frequency – which is easier to do in our smaller market.  The rest of world (clearly a generalisation) may lag a bit as different markets run at different speeds. They all have different media, different levels of adoption and sophistication.

AMEC’s role is to help all global practitioners get up to speed with the best thinking on how to serve the PR community. So for example, in India print is still a massive growth area in the media whereas clearly everyone is focused on best practice for measuring social media in the USA and EMEA and other regions too of course…


4. Tell us about your role with AMEC

Bagnall: I chair AMEC’s global social media measurement group. We’re working to remove confusion from the industry. The rise of social runs the risk of bombing the PR industry back to the dark ages of silly metrics that don’t measure what matters.  But we can’t do this in a silo so we are working with the conclave, CIPR, IPR, CPRF, Womma, etc to help establish standards.

Most importantly we’re also working to help drive education on how to measure in a meaningful and credible manner.  And that’s the incredible thing, the more things have changed, the more they have stayed the same…

Begin with the end in mind. What are you trying to achieve? What does success look like? Now you have your objectives, how should you best measure them?  The right approach is exactly the same in social media as it was in traditional media.

My goal for this year is to get everyone speaking the same language and to bring a level of transparency to SM analysis too.  See AMEC’s social media site here: http://amecorg.com/social-media-measurement/ … where we have a definition of terms & plenty of other good stuff.


5. The Barcelona Principles were driven by AMEC and are now gaining traction. Can you elaborate on what they are?

Bagnall: Yes, they’re a great step forward of common sense advice. There are 7 of them, all quite simple but important common sense. They’re  famous for killing AVE’s in particular. I wrote on why they are a dreadful metric here by the way: http://www.gorkana.com/measurement-matters/measurement-matters/pr-measurement-media-evaluation/aves-dont-measure-pr-heres-why/ …

The 7 Barcelona Principles are:

  • Importance of Goal Setting and Measurement
  • Measuring the Effect on Outcomes is Preferred to Measuring Outputs
  • The Effect on Business Results Can and Should Be Measured Where Possible
  • Media Measurement Requires Quantity and Quality
  • AVEs are not the Value of Public Relations
  • Social Media Can and Should be Measured
  • Transparency and Replicability are Paramount to Sound Measurement
There is lots more info on the Barcelona Principles on AMEC’s site http://amecorg.com/2012/06/barcelona-declaration-of-measurement-principles/ …
As you can see, they’re not rocket science, but they’re not meant to be. It was time for the industry to take note and that’s what they achieved.

6. How can we, as an industry, get best practices in #measurePR more widely adopted?

Bagnall: My favourite subject!  One simple answer.  Education, education, education.

ALL OF US have a part to play in this – PR practitioners, in house, agency, analysis companies, lecturers.. We all need to play our part.

- PR Agencies stop providing AVE’s, they’re not proof of success.

- Clients stop demanding or accepting them, AVE’s are not a proof of success.

- PR Awards judges stop accepting them in entries, AVE’s are not a proof of success.

- Lecturers stop tolerating them, AVE’s are not a proof of success.

So I’m afraid it’s better education and more rigorous professional standards we all need to adhere too. But we will be a better and stronger industry as a result and that has to be a good thing. And frankly we don’t have a choice – other marketing disciplines with robust metrics are moving into our space. Adapt or die.



Part two of the Twitter conversation will be on March 5th 2013 at the same time being timed to allow as many people as possible to participate. It runs for one hour at 9am US West Coast, midday on the East Coast and 5pm in the UK.

I hope to see you there.  In the meantime, if you have any questions on PR or social media measurement, please feel free to contact me on email or via twitter: Richard Bagnall



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  • http://www.WaxingUnLyrical.com/ Shonali Burke

    Richard – this is GREAT! I was going to write a recap, but I can simply point people here and embed your Storify. Thank you so much. Do you want to be the guest for *every* chat? ;) Looking forward to having you back on #measurePR in a couple of weeks!

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