Our Measurement Menaces of the Month for November are those individuals who use silly metrics in award entries. The most obvious transgressors are those vendors who, six years after the Barcelona Principles, continue to offer (and too frequently push) AVEs on their clients. I think of it like being slimed in Ghostbusters:
The problem isn’t just that the vendors do it. What compounds the problem is that they give speeches touting their bogus results, and those fraudulent numbers get sent around the organization as if there were actual dollars being made. And then they end up in awards ceremonies…
Which brings us to the real menaces — award entrants who pull random, large numbers from a vendor report and use them for the “Results” section of their entry. While I didn’t hear any winners of the recent PR News’ Digital Media Awards use AVEs, I did hear a ridiculous number touting “billions of impressions.” In fact, their target audiences were more like 100,000.
Of the dozens of speeches, award programs, and conferences I’ve sat through of late, only a handful actually show results that tie back to objectives. Which contributes to a downward spiral: people go to award ceremonies and conferences to learn from the best. But when those “best” don’t know how to show the impact of their work with anything more than big, meaningless numbers, there cannot be any real learning. Instead, bad habits proliferate.
The good news is that PR people who use these bogus numbers do faulty measurement, and as a result they get marginalized. Meanwhile the folks in marketing that are using valid measures—and are showing true impact—get the better jobs, the greater responsibilities, and the raises. (Read “The New Normal Invalidates Your Old Metrics: Here Are 4 Ways to Adapt”) ∞
Note: This piece originally appeared as a free article in the late November 2016 edition of The Measurement Advisor newsletter. For complete access to all articles, click here for a free 30-day trial.