How we #MeasurePR needs to change – and anything that helps measure the commercial impact of public relations, marketing and publicity is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. It’s been a topic of discussion for many years within the industry – the last 20 that I’ve been working in communications but there haven’t been any significant steps forward.
Reading today that AMEC – the international association for measurement and evaluation of communication – has launched an integrated evaluation framework must be positive for both professionals & their customers. It will give customers at least something, on which, to base the performance of their public relations, marketing and publicity activities. It will standardize the areas that are measured so that metrics are consistent.
One problem I see is that the framework is focused on content. Paid, earned, shared & owned, or PESO as it is known in the industry. It’s like measuring the success of a journey where you can only measure the effectiveness of cars, or buses… or aeroplanes. It assumes that content is the key to delivering successful outcomes. The truth is, it isn’t.
Take today’s research from Engagement Labs that says face-to-face engagement still accounts for more than 72% of “brand conversations” (I’m assuming that means conversations about a company) with social media still only accounting for about 5%. Social Media has grown by account 4% since 2008, while face-to-face has fallen 5% in the same time. 25% of conversations reference something seen online – but that still means that 3/4 do not.
When you look at the percentage change in each activity the numbers are very insightful. Considering that Twitter and Facebook were both in their infancy in 2008 and mass-market social media was non-existent, 3 or 4 percentage points over 8 years when use of social platform growth has increased exponentially appears even less impressive.
Social and content may be valuable tools. The problem is that, right now, it would appear most misses the mark. The AMEC framework gives no way for entrepreneurs or communications professionals to experiment. It is simply measuring outcomes based on assumptions. Assumptions that content – paid, earned, shared or owned – is the right way to achieve a commercial outcome. It also measures effectiveness after significant time, money and effort has been spent.
So, while it is a start – a good start – it doesn’t help with the most important piece of the communications jigsaw puzzle. Finding what works. It doesn’t help test assumptions before activity at scale. It doesn’t look at how best to build or maintain relationships (public relations), compel people to take an action in support of your business (marketing) or raise awareness (publicity).
It simply measures the effectiveness of content based on subjective metrics.
Over the last couple of years we’ve been working on a framework that allows assumptions to be tested, using experiments – based on the lean startup methodology. It helps entrepreneurs help what works so that they can scale it, rather than doing activity at scale to find what delivers commercial value. We call it the Lean Communications Framework.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be testing the Integrated Evaluation Framework where there is a content strategy as part of the work we do – and we’ll let you know how we get on.