16 Jun 2016
Measure of PR Value

A Single Unified Measure Of PR Value Exists

Last year, some of the best thinkers in PR and communications once again took time out of their regular challenges to evolve the thinking presented to the world in the first industry consensus on measurement, the Barcelona Principles.

The Barcelona Principles 2.0 offers slightly more guidance to agencies and practitioners wrestling with the challenges of measuring the value of a profession that builds and safeguards reputation, is the safe harbour in times of crisis, and the events manager, show caller and publicist in times of frivolity. Once again, the language and approach was challenged by the variety and depth of skill sets and approaches exhibited across the PR mix. The differences and nuance between Analyst Relations and Social Strategy, and the rest delivered slides like number 11 in this deck which amply show our reluctance to miss out any particular professional effect.

Other food-forward destinations around the world are getting involved too, with Singapore University kicking off a project recently to develop a quantitative measure that is flexible enough to take account of those pesky nuances I already mentioned the communications mix throws up.

The organising thought behind both these efforts is correct. The PR industry needs better measurement. No one cares about clip counts unless they’re in a comms role with that as a KPI.  We need the measure that clients care about and that stand up in integrated marketing communications planning processes. We need a measure the CMO understands and can reward with increased spend. We need a measure that the CEO understands and can reward with consideration in the strategic process.

If we don’t or can’t get this right, they money dries up and the industry dies.

It seems as though, we are ignoring a key part of PR thinking in this whole process.

We’ve all been in the position of handling a product-centric client. The one who seems intent on dressing up a sales brochure as a news story and just won’t listen to reason.

We take them through finding the angle that makes their story relevant to the audience. It has to be interesting to them if it is going to work.

Why then do we keep trying to formulate measurement frameworks that are able to stretch across all our profession? I think we’ve fallen into the trap of being product-centric and it is time to turn our focus back on our audience.

There is a single unified measure of PR value.

It is: How does the work that we’re proposing impact a core business metric of the client?

I acknowledge it is not a simple answer. It requires of us an understanding of the client’s business beyond their communications challenges.

It requires of us an understanding of the client’s business beyond their communications challenges. It requires a custom approach for every client and probably every piece of work. It requires us to build a capability in data and digital that goes beyond the simple use of platforms.

The rewards for meeting this challenge are great.

At Spectrum, we’ve had some success building content and digital environments that allow us to capture interest that can be turned into leads, and allow us to better understand what captures that interest to begin with. Many of our clients are great at turning leads into sales but have been challenged in creating leads in a world where cold calls often don’t connect. Finding that pain point and building communications that can address it in a measurable way is the future of our business, and we’d bet our whole industry’s too.


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