In preparation of the PR Impact Awards, I also met with Jūratė Žuolytė from Delfi, Lithuania’s biggest online news platform, to discuss (what else) about PR measurement.
I have to admit that she grilled me on why PR should be measured and how it can be done, teasing out a preview of my talk planned for the next day at the PR Impact Awards. Unlike the conference however, I had more time with Jurate, so I could go beyond the 30 minutes focused talk on the resources and tools that practitioners should use, and went into a wider talk about why PR is (poorly or not at all) measuring.
I had an opportunity thus to make a reference to the mainstream history of PR and its association with media relations… the measurement in quantity and inches is thus something PR inherited but it is outdated. The use of AVEs was pushed by managers in need for accountability and when it was introduced, it might have been revolutionary, but the world was also simpler (the media landscape that is). Not only is the media landscape changed so the AVE formula does not apply but it is really bad for business as it helps perpetuate the myth that PR cannot be measured (or doesn’t know how to measure its impact) and that it is just “a nice to have”. This is bad for business because it destroys from the start PR’s dreams to being a strategic function (which, with good and realistic measurement it can be) but also diminishes it to the next best thing yet cheaper.
For a good and realistic measurement, I have advocated that practitioners go back to their research skills (acquired in college/university – most PR practitioners have a higher education degree) and go back to being really picky about the words they choose (that applies in this case to the objectives that they assign for the activities/campaigns/strategies they are working on). There are tools available to them (to get inspired, see my prezi from the talk) and there is a need, like in every other profession, to upgrade, to keep learning (and that is something they should not be afraid of but rather welcome it).
So… keep questioning.