Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Ahead of next month's Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication annual summit, Gorkana catches up with Ketchum's David Rockland, on banning the word 'buzz', a world without AVEs, and why measurement helps you run with the big dogs.
Hi David, good to catch up with you ahead of next month's AMEC European Summit on Measurement – what can we expect from Dublin this year?
This is the fourth such annual summit and they keep getting better and better. What is really good about this meeting is that it is focused on moving the realm of communications measurement ahead in the sense of further professionalising the field and creating better practices. Frankly, if PR measurement is important to you, it is the place to be.
Do you think effective measurement is still the biggest challenge facing the PR industry?
I'd say that the biggest challenge for the PR industry still is credibility as a viable and critical business practice. Measurement is what will help address this challenge. When I hear someone say "they cut my budget", "they don't take me seriously", or "I can't get a seat at the table", the underlying problem is often that the PR professional is not measuring and hence demonstrating value. I believe that if you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch; and, measurement helps you run with the big dogs.
Are there still some PRs who think the 'big idea' is more important than measurement?
Usually, the "big idea" should be more important. It usually consumes 95% of the budget, and measurement should be around 5%. However, it is that 5% that determines if the 95% is well spent, and how to ensure programming going forward that will make sure the 95% delivers the best results possible.
What's the latest on the Barcelona Principles?
I think they have become the industry standard. The challenge, however, remains gaining widespread adoption and hence a global education campaign has got to be our focus. And, in the meeting in Dublin, such a campaign will be launched.
How do you think the Barcelona Principles have progressed the debate on measurement?
They established a foundation of what is good, better and best, and what is wrong. And, they got lots of people from lots of companies and countries in alignment and working together. Now the challenge is to bring them to life through best practices and their adoption.
Can you ever see a day when AVEs will be completely eradicated?
Yes, and I think it will take about 10 to 15 years on a global basis. Once every PR professional in the world sees that having their work valued as the cost of advertising is a really bad idea, we’ll be very close.
There are four simple things a PR can do to make sure they have a satisfied client or boss when it comes to measurement – what are they?
1) Make sure you can articulate how the work you do drives the business of the company. 2) Show how you delivered the right messages to the right people. 3) Find out how the target audience responded to those messages in terms of perception and behaviour. 4) Talk the same language as other parts of the business and particularly marketing.
What about social media measurement- what are the challenges?
That it continues to evolve, and we have yet to adopt standard terms, definitions and tools. In Dublin, this will be a big focus of the conversation, building on a set of standards that we discussed at the AMEC conference in Hong Kong earlier this year.
Why are analytics now at the forefront of PR?
They can be used to find the Holy Grail – the return on investment for spending money on PR.
Give us some examples of how PRs can use analytics to show results they've achieved.
Work we've done for clients include how PR drives campsite registrations, purchase of a frozen food entre and participation in charity events. We’ve also used analytics to determine how reputation drives business performance, and how to reshape a non-profit organization’s mission to build donations. As just one example, we used analytics to help a non-profit organization understand how much more money they would raise for blood cancer research by moving from radio advertising and direct mail to online earned media and point of sale promotions.
You run a PR measurement boot camp – sounds frightening/exhausting...
What I am often surprised by is how often participants cannot explain how their work benefits their company's business. That the first building block for good goal-setting and measurement for PR, and yet seems very hard to articulate for so many people in PR. If we got every PR practitioner to be able to explain how what they do affects their employer’s or client’s business, we’d be a long way down the road.
And finally, would you like to ban the word "buzz"?
I played in a lot of bands in the 70s, and would hate to see the word go away. However, it has no meaning in PR.
David is Partner and CEO of Ketchum Pleon Change, and Managing Director of Ketchum's Global Research Network.
AMEC is offering a 10% discount for Gorkana Group customers wanting to attend the summit. See details here.