Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

The Measurement Menace of the Month: The “No We Can’t” Crowd

The Measurement
Menace Award this month goes out to all those folks that are hiding
behind the "social-media-and-PR-are-unmeasureable" banner.
In
every speech, every conversation, and every discussion group, there's
always
someone who says that, "You can't measure this stuff!" because
he or she doesn't have the budget, the brains, or the energy to
work out some measurable goals and find a researcher to determine
how
he/she
can measure those goals.

Many of
these nay-sayers truly do not have the math skills, but that doesn't
make their project unmeasurable, it just means they need to go out
and find a statistics geek to do some calculations for them.

There
are some really great discussions going on in the blogosphere these
days about why you can or can't measure the ROI of social
media. (See Todd
Defren's post at PR-Squared,
where he relates Andy McAffee's
statement that "There is not enough ROI for figuring out ROI.")

There
are some things that can't and shouldn't be measured —
like the ROI of your pants — as Shel Israel pointed out.
But I'm sure when pants first came on the scene, there
probably
was a
discussion
about
whether they were a good or a bad idea. ("Hey, why should I go
to all that effort to sew pants, when I can just wrap this woolly
mammoth hide around my waist?")

My point
is that, yes, at some point we can stop worrying
about
measuring these things because it will simply be an accepted
fact that, yes, you need to listen to your customers on Twitter,
or wherever.
But right now, when organizations are trying to figure out
what
is working
and what is not working, measurement
is
critical.

Another
popular reason that PR/SM "can't be measured" is that,
"You can't isolate PR from everything
else the
organization is doing!" But yes, in fact, you can. It might take
some coordination with advertising, or some sophisticated ANOVA (Analysis
of Variance) but it can
be done, and is being done every day. The ever-brilliant Eric
Peterson
told an audience at e-Metrics that measurement was hard. And he's
right, particularly for the math-phobic PR folks. It requires calculations
and
analytics and a bunch
of things that PR people hate.

But,
guess what? If you're a PR person who wants to keep your job in the
next ten years, you better learn a new set of skills, and that skill set
better include some math and lots of analytics. –KDP 

Read Todd
Defren's blog for a thoughtful and on-the-mark reply to this article: "More on the Menace
of Marketing
Measurement."

Bill Paarlberg
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Bill Paarlberg

Bill Paarlberg co-founded The Measurement Standard in 2002 and was its editor until July 2017. He also edits The Measurement Advisor newsletter. He is editor of the award-winning "Measuring the Networked Nonprofit" by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine, and editor of two other books on measurement by Katie Paine, "Measure What Matters" and "Measuring Public Relationships." Visit Bill Paarlberg's page on LinkedIn.
Bill Paarlberg
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