Last weeks’ Holmes’ Report covered its recent survey of more than 100 PR Agency principles – the
results of which point to some of the problems that continue to make research and evaluation a major issue for the industry.
"In general, their responses suggested that an failure of commitment- rather than the absence of necessary tools and techniques—is behind the industry’s poor performance."
Damn right. Never have we had more tools. And more arrive every week. The barrier however remains a lack of commitment at the top. Too many organizations I talk to are only looking to measure where Executives demand it. It’s not viewed as a key ingredient in strategic planning and establishing a proactive dialog with the business. As a result, it’s not resourced or budgeted for.
Look at any of the best-in-class measurement efforts – like those at Southwest airlines – and you’ll see the reverse in action: a commitment from the most senior levels of the company to measuring not just to validate spend, but to drive business strategy; dedicated resources; and they’ve put their money where there mouth is (and this is one very, very, very budget sensitive organization).
According to the study, Agency leaders believe the biggest obstacle to effective measurement is the unwillingness of clients to pay additional fees for evaluation Why not just mandate it as part of any budget? If you aren’t clear on the outcomes, and can’t measure your effectiveness in achieving those outcomes, why work for the client? Holmes gets this:
“At the very least, that suggests the need for a broader dialogue between agencies and their clients about the importance of research. But it might also require a change in attitude on the part of agency leaders, who need to realize that investing in measurement is the only way to guarantee that clients value the services agencies provide and commit to PR spending in good times and bad.”
I just don’t understand how any PR department or practitioner can operate without a measurement program in place. Measurement isn’t monitoring. Monitoring isn’t measurement. What I am talking about here is a deep understanding of how communications impacts business outcomes. An understanding based on research not just of what occurred in the media, but also in the minds of your customers. Without that you shouldn’t expect resources, budget, even a job.