Background: About a year ago, Fraser Likely wrote an article in this newsletter entitled “Finding a Standard Model for Barcelona Principles 1, 2 & 3: A New Task Force.” In that article he introduced a study group called “Task Force on Standardization of Communication Planning/Objective Setting and Evaluation/Measurement Models.” Just last month the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework debuted. A recent comment from Daniel Johnson on Fraser’s article prompted a reply from Fraser which provides a very informative discussion of models vs. standards, and how standards become adopted. Here is their exchange:
— From: Daniel Johnson,
Hi Fraser, do you not consider the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework to be the standard model?
—From: Fraser Likely
Richard Bagnall, CEO of Prime Research UK, has done a wonderful job of leading the AMEC team that created the new six stage evaluation/measurement model. The important thing about this model is that it is built on a theoretical framework. In doing so, Richard’s team was ably supported by the AMEC Academic Advisory Group, led by Dr. Jim Macnamara, with such noted measurement scholars as Don Stacks, Tina McCorkindale, Tom Watson, Anne Gregory, Brad Rawlins, and Ansgar Zerfass.
AMEC’s Integrated Evaluation Framework is both an initial theoretical framework and a model, with the former underpinning the latter. Having both elements is fundamental to the process of standardization. The fingerprints of the advisory group are all over the framework aspect.
Is it a standard? The marketplace, ultimately, will determine that – and the only marketplace of import is the PR/Communication department within an organization. If a critical mass of CCOs adopt the framework and the model, then yes, it can become a standard. But, there is much water to flow under the bridge first.
Many questions must be decided in that marketplace:
For example, is a six stage model appropriate for all situations? Is a six stage model appropriate for a single communication product (news release; tweet; Facebook post; etc.), for a communication campaign (various products and channels with a single objective), and for a communication program (number of campaigns over time, with multiple objectives but directed at the same stakeholder)? What about four or five stage models, do they have utility? Where and when?
For example, is the terminology used for each stage the language that the marketplace will adopt? Is what we’ve taken from management literature important, including inputs/throughputs and outputs, in all situations? Is what we have created—such as the concept and term “outtakes”—important in all situations? Is what we’ve borrowed from the program evaluation literature – outcomes at all stages or levels—important in all situations? Is what we’ve taken from the financial/management literature—outflows; impacts; roi; outgrowths—important in all situations? What are the correct terms? What terms will the C-suite recognize and find valuable?
For example, what model—be it a three, four, five, six or more stage model—is better for marketing communication, internal communication, stakeholder relationships, issues management, etc.? Does the use of digital, social media, or traditional media influence the choice of terms and stages? Or, is the model affected by the choice of PESO channels?
My original piece, on which you’ve commented Daniel, was written in June 2015. The new AMEC framework and model came out in June 2016. Besides AMEC’s work, the Task Force on the Standardization of Communication Planning/Objective Setting and Evaluation/Measurement Models has also progressed down the road to standardization. The Task Force has conducted a major literature review, examining the development of models both historically and comparatively—but also with an eye on the antecedents that we’ve borrowed from other disciplines. Without an appreciation of where models or model stages and terms came from and how they’ve evolved, we risk—as a profession—continually reinventing. Many of the models that exist now are really simple redos of existing models, but with a new coat of paint in the form of a different stage or term. And, most importantly, most of the models are just that, a model drawn on paper but lacking any theoretical underpinning or empirical testing.
The Task Force has entered its second stage. We’ll produce two papers on the evolution of measurement models. We’ll also conduct two or three qualitative research projects examining framework and model uptake in agencies/measurement suppliers and PR/C departments from the vantage points of CEOs, CCOs, and research/measurement heads. Once we have this research at hand, the Task Force will examine all models closely and compare to what the research has told us. We’ll develop a theoretical framework and suggested model(s). Then we will peer review, test with PR/C departments and have the Coalition of PR Research Standardization, on which both AMEC and the IPR Measurement Commission sit, the framework and model(s), examine the reports and approve.
It would be great for Richard’s team and the Task Force members (now including Sophia Volk on the list above) to benefit each other going forward. By the way, Jim Macnamara is a member of the Task Force and a member of the AMEC Academic Advisory Group, and that cross influence has already been felt.
So, have we arrived at a standard? Not yet. But a lot of work has been and is being done.
Comment again in June 2017! Then we’ll see how close we are! —Fraser
— From: Daniel Johnson
Thanks for providing such a comprehensive response Fraser. Good luck with your efforts!
(Thanks to Wikipedia and Yupi666 for the image at the top, which depicts a very basic model of communication, but otherwise does not represent the work of Fraser Likely’s Taskforce or the new AMEC Framework.)