The Measurement Standard

June 07, 2012

Katie Paine Looks Back on 10 Years of Public Relations Measurement

KatieByHyku_80 The Paine of Measurement, 10th Anniversary Issue

By Katie Delahaye Paine

No_excuses_100Ten years ago I was fed up with people's excuses for not measuring their public relations efforts. By that time, I’d already been measuring PR programs for 15 years and had never seen a communications effort that I couldn’t measure—that includes everything from golf tournaments to coffee mugs.

We devised a solution for every excuse not to measure

But despite all those years of trying to educate people to measure (a.k.a. beating people over the head), I was still hearing excuses why they were not being accountable:

  1. “It’s too expensive”
  2. “I don’t know how”
  3. “My program is so different it can’t be measured”
  4. “PR is squishy”
  5. And of course the ultimate one: “There are no standard methodologies.”

So ten years ago I set out to create a new type of measurement company. One with the goal of providing solutions for all those excuses:

  1. For those who said “We can’t afford it,”
    ...we created do-it yourself tools, kept our costs low, and taught people how to do it themselves.
  2. For those who said “I don’t know how,”
    ...we published this newsletter, as well as white papers and three books on the topic.
  3. For those who said “My program is so different it can't be measured,”
    ...we came up with new methodologies, correlating communications efforts to buy/sell recommendations for IR, Facebook and Twitter efforts to donations, PR efforts to membership growth, and inventing new metrics to measure engagement, relationships, and even PR department efficiencies.
  4. For those who said “PR is squishy,”
    ...we demonstrated business results.
  5. And for those who said “There are no standards,”
    ...we worked diligently with our colleagues on the IPR Measurement Commission to create them, ultimately forging the Conclave that brings together a wide range of organizations forcused on social media measurement standards.

Wack_a_mole_100At times it felt like the ultimate Whack-A-Mole game. Every time we provided a solution, another AVE proponent would pop up its head, or another VP would utter those dreaded words: “It's PR so it can't be measured!”

Yes_We_Can_Measure_PR_100We even went so far as to create a “Yes We Can Measure PR” button just to silence the doubters.

Not wrong, just early

In reality, as I’ve always maintained, we weren’t wrong, we were just early. At a recent reunion of Delahaysians (people who have worked for me during my 25 years in this business), the consensus was that we were typically so far ahead of the market that most people didn’t understand what we were talking about. In this article you can read about nine first-in-the-world measurement programs we've introduced over the last decade.

Ten years of changes

But a lot of things have changed in ten years:

• Social media has revolutionized the measurement market, bringing with it a flood of new tools and methodologies. A decade ago I could count my competitors on one hand. Today there are probably 500 firms that play in our space.

• A global recession has forced measurement to the forefront, imposing the requirement for accountability on an industry that may or may not have been ready for it.

• And a new generation of communications managers is taking the stage, many with business degrees, many trained by measurement gurus like Jim and Laurie Grunig, Don Stacks, Brad Rawlins, and Don Wright.

Today, on this sunny morning a decade after founding KDPaine & Partners, I feel like we’re not quite there, but we are getting damn close. In the last 24 hours I’ve reviewed two sets of standards, one for social media, another for traditional. (Look for announcements of both during the coming month.) Next week, we are presenting the results of our first ever engagement study at AMEC. Our client roster has continued to grow, and includes some of the most respected names in business.

And, in the ultimate modern measure of success, when you google PR measurement, we come up first in organic search.

Ultimately, the summation of ten years of KDPaine & Partners is: Yes we can, we have, and we will continue to measure PR, communications, social media, and whatever exciting new media that arrive in the future.

Wishing you generous measures of success, KDPaineSig

Wack_A_Mole image thanks to The Enquirer,



June 11, 2012

Congratulations, Katie!
Thanks for all your energy and insight.

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