Elizabeth Fry & Martin Gourgue Are June’s Measurement Mavens

Elizabeth Fry and Martin Gourgue
Elizabeth Fry and Martin Gourgue of NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe

Congratulations to June’s Measurement Mavens, Elizabeth Fry and Martin Gourgue of NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). They’ve accomplished amazing work in putting together a Barcelona-compliant measurement program in record time. Here’s the story.

Last October I was honored to be a keynote speaker at a two-day NATO communications conference in Split, Croatia. There I introduced SHAPE’s public affairs and strategic communications groups to the latest standards and best practices in communications measurement. As I usually do, I helped them generate a customized coverage Quality Index by posing the question: “Imagine that your bosses’ boss walked into your office and plopped a case of champagne on your desk and said ‘Congratulations, you’ve exceeded all my expectations!’ What would you have accomplished that would prompt such a reward?”

After considerable debate we identified a number of criteria and characteristics of their press coverage that would generate a “champagne moment.” Not surprisingly, given NATO’s mission of ensuring the defense of no fewer than 28 nations, and their unique multi-national structure, a number of primary themes emerged. In their case, the role of public affairs and communications was all about generating support and being realistic about the limitations of this in practice.

Many if not most advocacy organizations share a similar mission. The ACLU, for example, doesn’t expect coverage that is positive, at least not in a way that most automated systems would define as “positive.” Much of its advocacy deals with uncomfortable issues and unpopular causes, which makes it difficult to apply standard machine-defined “positive” terms. NATO faces similar challenges for its coverage.

I left last fall’s conference a bit overwhelmed with the communications tasks that NATO faces. In particular, I was in awe of Elizabeth Fry, and the difficulty of the work she does at SHAPE. When she took up the role of Head of Media Analysis a little over a year ago, Ms. Fry identified the assessment gap in SHAPE’s Public Affairs efforts, and sought to fill it—on top of her day-job. She is now the woman in charge of public affairs measurement for SHAPE, and Ms. Fry and I have stayed in touch ever since.

Last month I was once again honored to take part in a Measurement Day organized by Ms. Fry. What she’s accomplished since my last visit is nothing short of miraculous. In six months she took the roughed-out notes I sent her and created her own Barcelona Principles-based measurement system from scratch.

Mr. Martin Gourgue, an intern at SHAPE, has helped Mrs. Fry to develop and manage a system that uses a unique combination of criteria tailored to reflect the champagne moments for SHAPE. They created a custom Quality Index that takes into account factors such as:

  • Desirable image or photo,
  • Messaging,
  • Reach and importance of the media outlet, and
  • Whether the story leaves a reader more or less likely to support NATO and SHAPE’s mission.

These quality factors are then analyzed by program, campaign, and against specific spokespeople and outlets. In this way Ms. Fry and her team can determine what is working and not working to generate the kind of coverage that gets them to their champagne moment.

Even better, Elizabeth and Martin are showcasing this system to other parts of NATO. They are now working toward a standardized measurement system that public affairs offices in their subordinate commands can use.

For very rapidly implementing a Barcelona Principle-compliant and outcome-based measurement program, we honor Elizabeth and Martin as June’s Measurement Mavens. Congratulations to them both!


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