Posted by an Honored Guest Thursday, April 19, 2007
What's the magic word with clients? "Measurement". Wanna make a PR person squirm? Ask them about "measurement". So what does it mean when one of PR's most noted measurement experts calls to "mothball measurement." Yousa! That's gotta be a bombshell no matter what side of the table you're on.
Katie Delahaye Paine is one of PR's leading measurement experts. Paine is the founder of KDPaine & Partners, a worldwide leader in PR measurement and evaluation. Prior to launching the firm in '02, she was founder and president of The Delahaye Group, an industry leader in business and communication intelligence.
There's more: Katie was an initial founder of the Institute for Public Relations special commission on measurement and evaluation. She served as the US liaison to the European Standards Task Force to set international standards for media evaluation. And she's a Research Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research.
So listen up!! She's dead serious when she says, "It's time to stop talking about measurement and change the conversation!"
Without further ado...
Why "measurement" should be mothballed
By Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO
KDPaine & Partners, LLC
Jim Dowling, Planning Director for Oglivy PR in Asia, had a recent blog post with a catchy title: “FCUK MEASUREMENT.” Where he went on to say a number of things I disagreed with; I agree with the headline. No, I’m not suggesting we stop being accountable. It’s just that we should be talking about data and research, and stop fretting over how big our rulers are.
It's time to stop talking about measurement and change the conversation! Here are three reasons why:
Reason # 1 -- Measurement is too often just bookkeeping; trying to meet some management target that is not necessarily closely related to your real goals.
The very word “measurement” seems to bring out fears in a great many PR practitioners. Maybe it’s because they had their hands smacked with to many (or not enough) rulers as children. Maybe it’s the genetic fear of “word people” fearing numbers and charts and graphs. But, for whatever reasons, it is clear that measurement seems too scary a word. In reality measurement is just a more direct way to achieve your goals based on decision making with the right information.
So instead, let’s start talking about what kind of data you need to make better decisions. When you’re in middle of a battle for thought leadership positioning, how do you know if you’ve won? If you client asks you what’s a better way to launch a product a press conference of a VNR, do you have the answer at your fingertips? More importantly, do you have the facts to back up that answer? If you’re trying to make a decision on how to launch a new product, what’s the best way to break thru the clutter? If your boss asks you who the most effective spokesperson is, can you name the top three? Is your answer based on facts or gut instinct? The reality is, in 2007, you have to have that data at your finger tips. There is simply no tolerance these days for decisions based purely on gut feelings, mostly because what gets done depends on whose gut is bigger and more powerful. (Now that’s a disgusting visual.) What we need is data that tells us what works and doesn’t work, data to tell us what makes our constituencies act/buy/report, data that gives us regular direct feedback on our activities. Besides, when you have half a dozen people all lobbying for their own pet project, the only way to shut them up is with data. That’s what measurement provides – the hard data to back up your gut instinct and help you make better decisions. But somehow when you call it “measurement” it becomes something to put off, delay or avoid all together.
Take KDPaine & Partners. It's a perfect case study. We’re about to launch two new services, at the end of the month, -- the first is a social media consultancy to facilitate conversations among communities in New Hampshire, the other is a significant expansion of our survey research business. At the end of our first little brainstorming session we had a list of some 30 potential tactics ranging from bumper stickers (No Paine, No Gain) to islands in Second Life. The problem is that we don’t have enough budget to do it all, so how do we make a decision? We look at the data. We look at the type of people we’re trying to reach, our goals for the launch, the type of people participating in each community, who we’d reach by participating, what the relative cost is and what the competition is doing to make noise in our space. Once we have the data in front of us, we make a decision.
Reason #2 -- There shouldn’t be a standard for “measurement” so why wait for it.
The other thing we have to stop talking about is measurement standards. Do you have a standard way that you evaluate your friendships? Do you use the same benchmarks to decide whether you’re having dinner with friends and family? Some programs are designed to generate media coverage, but others are designed to avoid it and still others are designed to influence the media coverage of others. Still other are designed to solicit ideas or change perceptions? So how can there be a standard way to measure all of this? The answer is, there isn’t. But PR people seem to forget that the R in their title really does stand for relationships and that there is no way you can evaluate the health of your relationships by counting column inches and comparing the result to what you might (if you were stupid enough to pay full retail) have to spend on the equivalent advertising. Just because counting column inches and comparing results to falsified ad equivalency numbers is a lot easier (and makes you look better) than doing real relationship measurement, is no reason to do it. Yes, it’s a lot easier to call in an air strike than negotiate with your enemies, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Like I tell those wimpy agencies that still do this AVE stuff when they say “the client demands it” – If the client demanded heroin would you give that to them as well?
Reason #3 -- Whether you like it or not, you become what you measure.
If you measure nothing, you are worth nothing. When you measure eyeballs and/or the number of bloggers you’ve pitched in the last week, the end result will be that you may meet your numbers, but you may or may not have touched your target audience at all and you will have left a lot of pissed off blogerati in your wake. If, instead, you measured your awareness or perceptions or the types of conversations that people are having, you’ll become a better communicator because you’ll have the data to make an informed decision based on what has or has not worked.
So stop measuring and start gathering data. Stop waiting for someone to come along and give you a ruler, and start making decisions.
Posted by an Honored Guest Tuesday, April 17, 2007
If there's one thing that characterizes the current social media explosion, it's the rush to push the limits. It's absolutely exhilarating... well... that is, until the Gods push back.
This is about the Gods pushing back. It's a must read for everyone in PR and corporate communications. It's a perfect example of when organizational interests clash with the now sacrosanct "conversation". Here, it's simple: When everyone's a potential corporate spokesperson, the potential (read likely) results are nothing short of a type of systemic Tourette's.
The lesson? The phrase "loose lips sink ships" is still in effect. With one little comment on Twitter last Friday, Edelman PR SVP Steve Rubel dissed an audience of 11 million. Now that's PR!
A word to the wise.
Boycott Edelman, or would that be over reacting?
By Jim Louderback
Editor in Chief, PC Magazine
How far can you really take business transparency? While I've been pushing some of the more radical transparency options at PC Magazine, where I'm editor in chief, now I'm really not so sure. What's given me pause? A recent web post I read from Edelman Senior Vice President and noted blogger Steve Rubel, that "PC Mag is another. I have a free sub but it goes in the trash."
Rubel shared his thoughts via the new micro-blogging platform Twitter, a new stream of consciousness service that combines the immediacy of instant messaging and SMS with the permanence and subscribability of RSS and blogging. Post a quick thought on Twitter, and all of your friends and fans instantly see it, either on their PC or cell phone. Steve has 601 friends, and 987 followers, which is certainly a lot. But it's not just a private conversation between those 1588 individuals, because those same Twitter thoughts are also available on the internet, apparently forever, for all to see.
When I saw the post, a torrent of thoughts flashed through my head. The first, of course, was to ring up the guys in the basement and cancel his free subscription. It costs a lot of money to print and mail those copies of PC Magazine out, and these days every dollar counts.
But then I started thinking about what this means for our relationship with Edelman. One of the company's top execs had stated, in a public forum, that my magazine (and by extension, my audience) was useless to him. He wasn't even interested in seeing whether we'd covered one of his clients. Did the rest of Edelman think like Steve? Were we no better than fishwrap to the entire company?
Should I instruct the staff to avoid covering Edelman's clients? Ignore their requests for meetings, reviews and news stories? Blacklist the "Edelman.com" email domain in our exchange servers, effectively turning their requests into spam? If we're not relevant to Edelman's employees, then how could we be relevant to their clients?
I did a quick search through my recent email, and found that over the past few weeks Edelman staff pitched me about news and new products from Palm, MarkMonitor, Mozilla/Firefox, Microsoft (hardware and Xbox), Eyespot.com, Vulcan Flipstart and Dash Navigation. Heck, they even pitched me yesterday on the release of Adobe's new Creative Suite 3, which has to be relevant to at least some of the 11 million folks we reach across our magazine, web and video properties each month. And then I realized that this was probably just the callous act of a rogue Edelman exec, and it didn't necessarily reflect the views of the rest of the company. Still, it made me wonder. And in the future, if I'm on the fence, I'll probably be somewhat less inclined to take a meeting with one of Edelman's clients.
Did transparency work in this case? I'd say no. While it's nice to know what at least one person at Edelman really thinks about us, it didn't do much for the relationship between my 11 million-strong audience and Edelman's clients. But at least two good things came out of it. First, we get to save a little bit of money on our comp subscription line item. And second, I get a chance to remind everyone out there in PR that, even if you don't read that copy of PC Magazine, please don't toss it "in the trash". Pass it along to someone who really wants it - or at the very least, be kind to the earth and drop it in the recycle bin instead.
Jim Louderback is Senior Vice President and Editor In Chief of Ziff Davis' Consumer Tech Division, including PC Magazine, PCMag.com, Gearlog.com, ExtremeTech, DL.TV and Cranky Geeks.
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
Kathleen Durazo about A Measly $2.8 Million Goes Missing, Lawsuit Results Fri, Jul 31, 10:58:34 AM Ray Durazo (the founder) sold the company to Dan in 1999. He was not involved in any of this. He (and I) found out about the lawsuit in the LA Times. In addition to embezzling this m [...]