6 Books That Should Be in Every Measurement Sherpa’s Library

sherpa with books

This article is part of The Measurement Advisor’s Special Issue on the Measurement Sherpa, an in-house data wrangler and measurement resource who organizes, queries, and gains insight from data. Our coverage follows the development of a Sherpa’s skills and experience, from newbie to pro, and is organized into three levels:

sherpa badge level 1

Sherpa Level One: Getting Out of Base Camp

sherpa badge level 2Sherpa Level Two: Climbing the Mountain

sherpa badge level 3Sherpa Level Three: Peak Operations

Measurement is a complex and fast-developing field. Measurement Sherpas need to be continuously educating themselves, and need to have reference books at the ready. Here are some of my favorites.

1. Katie Delahaye Paine, Measure What Matters, and
Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine, Measuring the Networked Nonprofit

Obviously we have to put these on the top of your reading list. Not just because they’re ours, but because you’ll find in them most of the essential steps to Measurement Sherpadom plus step-by-step procedures for most measurement projects.

2. Don Stacks, Primer of Public Relations Research

Don Stacks always makes me feel like my own books are just the CliffsNotes of PR research. The first edition of his Primer of Public Relations Research remains the dog-eared bible that I keep next to my desk. After 10 years it was time for an update and Dr. Stacks has done a great job of updating this classic. Pay special attention to the section on best practices in every chapter.

Stacks, professor of public relations in the School of Communication at the University of Miami, walks the reader through the steps involved in conducting content analysis, secondary research, observational research, sampling, surveys and polls, and experimental models. By the end you should know how to plan, execute, and report on whatever type of PR research you need to undertake. It also incorporates the latest version of the Institute for Public Relations’ Dictionary of Public Relations Measurement and Research, which is essential for the newcomer to the field. Just understanding the abbreviations and acronyms is 50% of the challenge. Don Stacks makes it easy.

3. Bob Garfield and Doug Levy, Can’t Buy Me Like: How Authentic Customer Connections Drive Superior Results

Bob Garfield and Doug Levy’s book is a wonderful combination of acerbic wit and plain if occasionally profane language. They take aim at all the clueless marketers who still think that social media is just another way to broadcast messages. The authors have amassed a staggering amount of data and examples to prove their point. More important, they offer some great practical advice on how to succeed in this new social marketing environment. And no one can say that it doesn’t apply to them. Garfield and Levy offer a cornucopia of case studies to illustrate their points.

I suppose one reason I’m so in love with Can’t Buy Me Like is that its advice can be summed up in a single maxim on which I’ve based most of my personal and professional career: “You can’t please everyone, so be who you are and see who is pleased.” Garfield and Levy’s message is: “Be authentic, be real, and be honest — because death comes to those who aren’t.”

4. Jon Berry and Ed Keller, The Influentials, One American in Ten Tells the Other Nine How to Vote, Where to Eat, and What to Buy

Since measurement is all about detecting influence, this is a must read. A wonderful data-driven analysis of who influences what.

5. Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t

Nate is the guy who made statistics cool by accurately predicting the 2008 and 2012 U.S. presidential election results. His book tells the story of the power of data as well as its weaknesses. His lessons are ones every Measurement Sherpa needs to know.

6. Ed Keller and Brad Fay, The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace 

Written by researchers, this book uses data to prove a great point: If you think that social media is all you need to focus on, think again. Based on their own research combined with numerous other studies, Fay and Keller outline beautifully why In Real Life (IRL) conversations are still the most important kind. Their data shows that word of mouth from real-life influencers (as opposed to what I would call the Fauxfluencers that are identified by Klout) generate eight times more word of mouth than the average American. They give some great examples of how success has come to marketers (including Miller/Coors, Fiskars, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia) who have closely integrated IRL word of mouth with social and other tactics. ∞

( Thanks to Kriegerland for the image.)

About Author

Katie Paine

I've been called The Queen Of Measurement, but I prefer Seshat, the Goddess.