The Paine of Measurement April 2017—
Each March for the last 20 years, an erudite group of academics and practitioners have gathered in Florida for the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC). I’ve been going for at least the last 15 years. Every year I return exhausted, with a head full of new ideas, fascinating data points, and many stories—some of which probably shouldn’t be shared on the Internet. My goal each April is to provide a summary of the conference, with emphasis on practical results that you can use in your own measurement.
Yes, the IPRRC is a place where I can listen to 108 presentations in three days, on everything from “Character Assassination” to “Explicating Authenticity.” And, lest you begin to yawn, it is also a chance for us PR research folks to shed our serious, boring image, drink too many mojitos, and kick up our heels.
This year the venue was moved to Orlando, which lacked some of the appeal of its previous home in Miami, but proved to offer a better hotel, better food, and just as much opportunity for stimulating conversation.
But it wasn’t just the venue that was different. As one might expect, over the years the themes and topics have evolved. I can remember when I was just about the only one presenting a paper on “How to Measure Social Media.” Last week, at least half the papers focused on some variation of that theme (see “6 New Ideas About Social Media That I Learned at IPRRC 2017”).
Most interesting, however, was how different disciplines and schools of thought have entered the presentations. A few years ago, there was zero discussion of internal communications as part of the PR discipline. This year there half-a-dozen papers on the subject, including perhaps the single most important paper presented this year, the new standards for internal communications. Network mapping analysis, another field that a decade ago had little overlap with PR, was now used in several presentations.
As usual there were dozens and dozens of papers on crises. Most measured the effectiveness of different types of response and different framing techniques, and at least one looked at the real financial implications of a crisis. See “What the Newest Public Relations Research Says On How to Best Handle a Crisis” for the most interesting examples.
In the rest of our April issue, I’ll be pulling out the major themes, ideas, and conclusions. I hope there is plenty of practical advice here that you, my gentle readers, can follow. Everything is backed up with impeccable statistical analysis.
Thanks to Intl PR Research for the photo.