Getting started! Your measurement options and how we created a global system in our consultancy.
Measurement was the real bugbear of the public relations sector for a long time. While other disciplines were able to attach concrete ROI figures on the work they were producing for clients, PR was playing around with AVE and other supposed signals of how good your media relations were. The method was flawed from the start: it was comparing apples and pears. There were many in the industry who voiced a concern over the old way, but there was still no new methodology that we could all apply.
During the mid-2000s, something began to change. The media landscape looked different and there was a growing importance of social in PR campaigns. At first, people began to say that social was hard or impossible to measure, but this soon proved to be incorrect. In fact, the prominence of social helped re-evaluate all forms of PR measurement. Enter AMEC and the Barcelona Principles. The industry needed a universal methodology that turned its back on AVE, and this was it. This was the tipping point in the quest to find an authentic and credible measurement framework for the industry.
The need for measurement in PR has been there for a long time. Yet as the world has suffered in economic turmoil, more prominence has been paid to budgeting in corporations large and small across the world. The value of everything has been under scrutiny and so now, more than ever the important of attributing a proper value on PR is essential. PR is not about column inches, it – like anything else – is about making money.
When AMEC released the Valid Metrics Framework, Hotwire started looking at how this would align to our existing methodology and thinking – something that we have always valued even before this framework came along. While the changes were not hugely drastic, the tweaks we implemented helped align our approach to measurement with this new industry standard. The framework brings credibility and it presents the opportunity to harness thinking across the industry into a force for change across the agency.
AMEC’s Framework acts as a brilliant springboard for adoption within different agencies and is created with adaptation in mind. The primary focus of the Framework – to put business outcome at the forefront and focus of any PR work – is something that can be integrated into any type of PR work, and is something that we adapted quickly. At every stage of the process, from taking the brief through to management, measurement should be involved.
But how to bring this alive through our business? Being a global agency, we carefully considered how we would roll out measurement across the international offices for all of our consultants.
After many in-depth conversations on the topic between different team members, a white paper was drawn up based on the AMEC Framework. This white paper was released internally, with training and then catch-up sessions used to help inform staff of the changes. The framework was introduced across all levels of the agency from new joiners through to senior management because it needs to be something your team lives and breathes.
International training was rolled out with video and audio conference around our 11 global offices, and then subsequently with the affiliate network. At the same time, we had been road-testing the Framework in some client work. With the account leads selling in measurement to the client, and then leading teams with the new way of thinking in mind, uptake was quick. It was through the early examples of implementing the measurement approach that made international adoption easier.
Following the internal launch, Hotwire released its adaptation of the white paper publicly. With an event and digital white paper, we brought in speakers to reinforce the importance of measurement within the PR industry and also to offer examples from our own experience. Now, AMEC’s Framework is part of all the work that we do.
PR has been looking for a solid approach to measurement for a long time and there is no doubt that this goes a long way to meeting that requirement.
As an industry we have to adapt our approach speak to the language of the CMO and not just the PR Manager. Having measurable business outcomes lying at the heart of communication strategy is an important first step in embedding the philosophy of true measurement into PR.
Continued education at all levels will be required to steer clients away from legacy attitudes in areas such as AVEs but then equally, agencies must play their part in continuing to develop and innovate in all areas of measurement.
Together, the PR industry can and will become fully accountable for its actions and for the investment business makes in it. And as an agency, we have taken the first small steps to becoming part of this shift.
✔ Do the groundwork and engage people at all levels across the agency in the development of the approach before launching internally.
✔ Identify suitable clients with which to roll out the approach, using the success of the deployment to facilitate ‘sell in’ to other clients across the network.
✔ Don’t assume universal success immediately; it takes time and sometimes baby steps are needed