One of the problems with public relations measurement is the outdated term “measurement.” Today almost anyone who “measures” their PR or communications is actually undertaking a complex process of developing metrics, gathering and analyzing data, comparing results to objectives, and generating insights. By continuing to call this sophisticated endeavor “measurement” we do not adequately describe it, and thereby shortchange our profession and confuse communication about what we do.
Consider, for example, Debunking the Myth of PR Metrics.” She begins with: “If anyone tells you they have the key to measuring PR, they’re either lying or they’re wrong.” Despite this offensively offensive opening (Katie Paine is among those who rose to the bait), the article actually makes an argument most of us would agree with, encouraging analysis and critical thinking over adherence to simplistic numbers. Ms. Severson’s misunderstanding is more about the meaning of “measurement” than about whether or not it can be done. She thinks measurement means “using metrics without thinking,” whereas those of us in the profession have a far different understanding.’s apparent ignorance in her recent article “
There must be thousands of other people confused by the term “measurement.” At least in other parts of the world they call it “evaluation.” Far more descriptive, if still a bit shy of encompassing the entire process.
What does “measurement” really mean today? David Geddes, a member and former chair of the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission, likes to call it “measurement, evaluation, and research.” He says: “I dislike use of the term ‘measurement’ as a stand-alone. The sophisticated organization employs research, measurement, and evaluation as a continuous process, and as a feedback cycle to develop strategy, monitor strategy and tactics on an ongoing basis, and revise strategy, tactics, and communications content over time. ‘Measurement’ becomes very transactional, and separates from the overall organizational objectives.”
It’s time to re-brand our field. “Measurement” is now a relic of a less sophisticated past , and a name that holds us back. The sooner we recognize that we do sophisticated social science research, the sooner other people take us more seriously. And the sooner we get more serious about how we do it.
Read more on this topic:
- 5 Reasons to Re-Brand the Measurement Industry
- Evaluation and Insights Are What “The Measurement Industry” Actually Do – Or Should Do
Thanks to theartfloozy on Etsy for the image.
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