Last year I delivered a talk at GIBS on how to evaluate a communications campaign. When I told the audience of communications professionals that they needed to master Excel it was greeted with broad hilarity. Communicators are better at words than metrics so it is a mindset shift that is required but a necessary one if communicators are to add strategic business value.
The upcoming AMEC (International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications) global summit on measurement got me thinking on this topic again. The theme this year is “Disruptive Communications: Measurement, Evaluation and Insights in the Age of Change”. That we are in an age of change, or the age of accelerations as Thomas Friedman so brilliantly spelt out , is common cause, but I’m not entirely convinced that the local PR / Communications industry has caught up to the degree that their communications are truly disruptive.
There are of course always exceptions and this year’s PRISA winners and finalists show just that – although all of these were short term campaigns and as I have previously pointed out in my blogs, comms is a long term game!
But more to the point, I don’t believe SA has caught up to the point where our measurements reflect the changes in our industry and the world at large. Too many agencies are still selling antiquated vanity metrics as measurements of their performance… if indeed you’re lucky enough to get that.
I even once had an agency that reported on the hours they spent every month! I really don’t care how long it took you… Did you achieve what we need to do?
If you look at the international scene, the AMEC framework goes a long way towards addressing the fundamental weakness in the communications proposition and it would be great if we as an industry would start implementing these metrics here. However, I still believe that a real time measurement in shifts in reputation is what is really needed.
Social listening tools are the closest we get to this sort of technology but still not an accurate reflection of the view of all stakeholders on all key issues and sadly proper social listening is too expensive for smaller businesses to justify.
So, sorry I don’t have the silver bullet solution but don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes! Look at your business strategy and develop communications metrics that show progress towards achieving those objectives. Then at least you should be getting something out of your PR / communications efforts.