Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

The Measurement Standard Interview: David Geddes

DavidGeddes Hi David. Welcome to The Measurement Standard Interview, and thanks for answering some questions. You are the new Chair of the IPR Measurement Commission. Congrats. What does the Commission do? 

Thanks for having me, Bill. The Institute for Public Relations, founded in 1956, is dedicated to developing “the science beneath the art of public relations.™” A little over ten years ago, several forward-thinking PR researchers – including Katie Paine, Walter Lindenmann, Mark Weiner, Lisa Richter, Bruce Jeffries-Fox, Forrest Anderson, and several others – created the Commission on Public Relations Measurement & Evaluation. The Commission exists to establish standards and methods for public relations research and measurement, and to issue authoritative best practices white papers.

The Commission has about 30 elected members representing leading-edge thinkers and practitioners in PR research measurement and evaluation drawn from four pillars: corporations and non-profit organizations, PR agencies, research and measurement firms, and universities.

Bill, let me add that we commonly talk about “the IPR Measurement Commission,” our full name is the Commission on Public Relations Measurement & Evaluation. I’ll be writing about that small but important distinction on the IPR web site next month.

What have been its major accomplishments?

Let me give you a few examples:

First, the Commission supports two leading conferences on PR research, measurement, and evaluation:

  • The International Public Relations Research Conference is organized by Commission member Don Stacks of the University of Miami and takes place every March. This conference brings together academics and practitioners interested in academic research.
  • The Summit on Measurement, organized by Commission member Don Wright of Boston University,  is the leading conference on PR measurement and evaluation. This conference, which owes its start to Katie Paine, has served as the model for other conferences taking place in the U.S. and around the world.

Second, we have published a big series of white papers on PR measurement and evaluation written for practitioners. They are available, at no cost, on our web site.

Third, we are taking part in major industry initiatives such as The Barcelona Declaration of Research Principles issued at a conference organized by the IPR and the Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications.

OK, so it's clear the Commission is active in promoting research and the bleeding edge of measurement. What is the Commission doing for the average person trying to actually do practical measurement, with modest programs, budgets, and aspirations?

We offer models for how to think through setting up and implementing measurement and evaluation programs. Look at the IPR white papers on setting measurable objectives, on measuring ROI, and many others. These explain best practices that all PR professionals can follow. We have a speakers bureau. And we regularly receive email questions from PR professionals, and do our best to provide expert answers.

Tell us a little about yourself and your previous work in measurement and PR. What are you most excited about? 

I have an eclectic background including a Ph.D. in anthropology and an M.B.A. I have worked in market research. I spent nearly 15 years in PR research and measurement at Fleishman-Hillard. Now, I am Vice President of Research & Development at evolve24, a Maritz Research company. I am excited about using text analytics and data mining to extract information more rapidly to deliver decision-ready business insights.

What aspects of measurement do you find most rewarding?

Research, measurement, and evaluation are rewarding when they contribute to making smart business decisions. Measurement for the sake of measurement is like counting the pebbles on the beach.

What are your measurement pet peeves? And how do you plan to work them into the work of the Commission?

Top three.

  • First, failure to take the time to establish measurable objectives at the start of a PR program. See the excellent white paper on this subject by David Rockland, Mark Weiner, Linda Hadley, and Forrest Anderson.
  • Second, limiting measurement to PR outputs.
  • Third, the large volume of meaningless hype about measuring social media, especially from self-styled social media experts lacking a foundation in research, measurement, and evaluation. I look to the Commission to make contributions in this area by bringing sound measurement principles, standards, and best practices to social media measurement.

Have there been any controversial topics that the Commission has taken up? Any particularly sticky subjects or votes?

Advertising value equivalency (AVE) was a difficult beast to put to rest. The debate was often contentious, but the discussions themselves advanced our understanding of how to measure PR. 

Thanks for talking with us, David. All the best in the future and thanks for your work on the IPR Measurement Commission.

–Bill Paarlberg, Editor, The Measurement Standard
The Measurement Standard is a publication of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement.

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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