Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

January #MeasurePR Key Takeaways

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The January #MeasurePR chat was an open chat with no formal guests, but a number of measurement experts provided their contributions on what they predict will happen in the world of PR measurement in 2017. I (Jen Zingsheim Phillips) served as guest host for Shonali Burke, and along with #MeasurePR chat participants we discussed dark social, social media validation, and what’s ahead for PR measurement in the coming year. Below are some key takeaways from the chat:

  • After introductions, we jumped into the discussion by revisiting measurement memories from 2016. Several participants mentioned the U.S. presidential election results, and how predictions based on data were wrong. Because of this, it was noted that perhaps there will be a need to rebuild public trust in data.
  • Along the same lines, it was suggested that the credibility of experts who rely on data “took a hit.”
  • Next, we covered measurement predictions—will we still be discussing the use of AVEs at the end of 2017? The answer was “yes, probably”—because “some don’t get it” or they don’t want to learn how to do the tougher work of identifying measurement that would be more useful.
  • One prediction was that social will move more to tools that offer better privacy, and this will make measuring likes, shares, and engagement even more difficult. While “dark social” (used here to mean sharing that occurs without visibility) has always existed to some extent, participants suggested that there will be a move away from open social channels.
  • One of the most interesting takeaways from the chat is a side realization that there are different definitions of “dark social.” While some adhere to the definition in the above bullet point that dark social is simply social sharing that happens on private channels, like IM, texting, email, WhatsApp, some of Snapchat, and behind Facebook’s privacy settings, others take a broader view and include some aspects of dark web activities, phishing, and other nefarious behavior. Confusion likely starts when referencing “dark channels” as shorthand for “dark social channels” so it’s important to be clear up front.
  • We discussed Sohini Baliga’s prediction that communicators will be tested on their speed, skill, and diplomacy on Twitter like never before. Some felt that we always have been tested on these points—and that it will always be important.
  • Shifting direction a bit, the chat also covered the credibility of social media. Several noted that social has always had issues with credibility, but the relative accessibility of it and the fact that it is sometimes easier to quantify than other forms of PR means that it’s a core part of PR now. Measurement, and in particular determining sentiment and behavior changes, can go a long way in bolstering the credibility of social.

The next chat is scheduled for Wednesday, March 8, at noon Eastern time.

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, digital and social communications, and media analysis.

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