Why is measurement important? How is measurement more than simply a best practice? What are the professional advantages? Is there any moral or ethical obligation to do measurement?
These questions and more will be addressed when The International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) holds its annual Global Summit on Measurement next month in Bangkok. Highlight of the AMEC Bangkok Summit is a special session entitled “Measurement and the PR and Communications Professional – Why Measurement Is Non-negotiable.”
Barry Leggetter, CEO of AMEC and moderator of the special session, told The Measurement Standard: “By putting on this special session involving PR leaders, clients, and heads of measurement firms, AMEC hopes to establish a series of new and practical steps to maintain the momentum of getting measurement talked about and used.”
Is measurement really non-negotiable? Is it a “must have?” Tina McCorkindale, President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, is taking part in AMEC’s special session. She says, “I would say for any organization and any company, research is a must have. No question about it… You need to measure attitudes, opinions, and behavior… And yes, you should generate insights from the data/research but you have to have a solid base of data/research to do that.”
Why should measurement be non-negotiable?
From a business standpoint, sure, AMEC and the rest of us who promote the measurement industry would like to see measurement be a standard component of communications programs. More frequent measurement means more measurement business. That’d be a good thing.
But measurement is important for other reasons. The practice of doing research to evaluate and improve communications is about much more than improving the bottom line of measurement businesses. We can’t say for certain exactly what topics will be covered at the AMEC Bangkok Summit session, but we expect they will include the following three reasons why measurement is important:
Reason #1: Measurement is the right way—the best way—to do the job
The practice of measurement is important because it is the best way we know of to do the job. Here is Tina McCorkindale again: “Countless examples exist of how research and measurement saves time, money, and resources. It helps companies focus. It helps eliminate options but also helps organizations make smart decisions in the right direction.”
Mazen Nahawi, founder and CEO of CARMA (sponsor of The Measurement Standard and an AMEC Summit sponsor as well), will also be a participant in the special session. He says, “Without measurement you cannot plan, evaluate, or guide communications success. You are instead betting on instinct, which is too heavily influenced by personal bias and incomplete data, thereby leading to poor campaigns and bad results.”
Reason #2: Measurement is the path to respect for PR professionals
One of our guiding principles here at The Measurement Standard is that proper measurement is more than a tool of the trade. By improving the ability of PR pros to do their jobs, measurement raises the level of pride and professionalism among PR pros and our industry at large. Doing proper measurement is a path to respect.
PR often finds itself in competition with Advertising and Marketing. And that’s for professional respect as well as budget dollars. Advertising, in particular, is very good at advertising its own effectiveness. Often PR seems to suffer in comparison. Measurement is the tool that gives us clout in this sibling rivalry. As Katie Paine, publisher and senior measurement consultant at Paine Publishing (and a co-founder of The Measurement Standard), wrote some years ago, “PR people will always seem second-rate and expendable until we aggressively demonstrate that we have a vital role in helping the organization achieve business success.”
It’s a common theme that PR is looking for “a seat at the table.” As if our industry is somehow loitering hopefully in the hallway outside the board room, waiting for an invitation. Well, nothing says “Welcome to the C-suite!” like a significant boost to the bottom line. And that’s where measurement comes in: Do measurement, do your job better, make more money, get more respect. Moreover, measurement allows PR to speak a language that our clients and the board room understand and respect. To slightly twist the way it’s put it in this article: “It’s easier to look like a million bucks if you’re not spilling snake oil on your suit.”
Reason #3: Measurement is an ethical imperative: it’s a Good Thing
PR professionals have an ethical obligation to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. It is with measurement that PR pros do their jobs best. Therefore PR pros have an ethical obligation to do measurement.
That seductive syllogism makes a certain amount of sense. But, really, can we actually say that PR pros are under some sort of moral responsibility to do proper measurement? It’s a bit of a jump from being a best practice to wearing a halo.
Some years ago, Katie Paine claimed that PR pros faced a moral choice on whether or not to do measurement. That to choose to not do measurement was immoral, because one would be neglecting an obligation to do one’s best, to operate at one’s peak, and to fulfill one’s professional obligation to do the best by one’s client.
Today, Mazen Nahawi says, “Measurement is… an ethical imperative because no communications professional who is entrusted with managing someone’s reputation should ever do so without the right data and insights that lead to good outcomes.”
So, are we as an industry prepared to promote measurement as a moral responsibility? Perhaps the coming AMEC Bangkok Summit session will help answer the question.
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