Dear Santa: 10 Measurement Epidemic Vaccines I Want for Christmas

Santa Claus prepares a measurement epidemic vaccine.

Shankhassick Farm
Durham, New Hampshire

Dear Santa,

I’m assuming this is one year you won’t be coming to town, since I’m sure you’re following Dr. Fauci’s advice and avoiding all the usual holiday traveling and merrymaking. I trust you and Mrs. Claus will be safe at home. Did you include a few of the elves in your “pod” to help with all that delivery stuff? I understand that reindeer can’t get COVID, so I’m assuming you’ll be using the remote reindeer controller to deliver gifts?

This year I’m asking for things that won’t take up room in your sleigh. I know you’re busy working on everyone’s number one wish, a vaccine for COVID-19. But, inspired by Jack Handey’s piece in The New Yorker, I’d like a few measurement-related vaccines.

As you may have heard, COVID-19 has mutated into several measurement epidemic variants. The CDC has had their hands full recently deleting emails, so I’m asking you and your ever-inventive elves to step in.

And, just in case your sleight does decide to stop by my rooftop, you can let let Donner, Blitzen, et al., know that I made some home-made reindeer treats. And there is plenty of Christmas Toffee for you, too, Santa.

10 Measurement Epidemic Vaccines I Want for Christmas

  1. An AVE2: Ad Value Equivalency Advanced Vaccine against Error

This magical elixir senses the calculation of AVE, then activates to render the AVE user comatose until they see the error of their ways. It will also take over their computer and delete all references to the dreaded malicious metric.

2. A vaccine against reach inflation

This inoculation controls a special type of results inflation that often infects board rooms. It prevents CEOs, leadership teams, and their communications professionals from reporting that they have “reached” ridiculously large numbers of people, including more than live on planet Earth.

3. A BRAG: Bogus Results Attribution Guard vaccine

The BRAG one-shot serum forever guards marketers against claiming credit for results that were caused or assisted by PR. Preferably, a second dose is administered to encourage accurate attribution numbers, thereby demonstrating that a sale was caused by a healthy diet of integrated communications.

4. A DEV: Denial Elimination Vaccine

The DEV is a two-part dose: The first shot prevents CEOs, their lawyers, and other spokespeople from denying reality in a crisis. It permanently erases the words “no comment” from their vocabulary.

The second shot is a truth serum that changes responses to media inquiries during a crisis from “no comment” to the truth, and thus immediately increases credibility. (This might actually be available already. CapeStart has fully automated their crisis detection and prevention AI system. We wrote about it a year ago.)

5. A CSV: Lawyer/CEO Stupidity Vaccine

Closely related to the DEV, the CSV wards off the crisis-causing legal team or CEO. Most self-inflicted crises are caused by a CEO or their lawyers making a decision that they think will boost short-term profit numbers, but actually does long-term reputational damage. The CSV inoculation syringe fits nicely into a miniature blow gun. It is typically administered by the communications professional just before a corporate spokesperson is about to say or do something incredibly stupid. They are instantly rendered comatose, and remain that way for as long as it takes communications to clean up any mess.

6. An MMI: Mathematical Immunity Inoculation

Too many unfortunate communications professionals have contracted the common mathophoboid mathematics allergy. One MMI injection rids them of their fear of numbers and turns them into ChartThrobs and prodigitalians.

7. The Vanity Metrics Fumigation Bomb

Here in measurement land we pray for the eradication of stupid metrics. Stupid metrics cause infestations of useless numbers that clog up board rooms and overpopulate reports. They appear to be full of sound and fury, but in reality signify nothing. One treatment of this airborne antitoxin locates and dissolves all unnecessary metrics on the premises, whether delivered by social listening and media monitoring platforms, or by AVEs.

8. The Silo Dissolving Truth Serum

This is a double-dose extra-strength series of jabs, required because some silos are made of reinforced concrete. Once injected into an organization the serum goes to work knocking down physical or virtual cubicle walls. It then emits a magnetic force that connects HR,  marketing, accounting, sales, IR, and the PESO communications team, along with all the data needed to show what’s working and what’s not working. It includes a booster shot of sodium pentothal, to ensure that everyone speaks truth to each other.

9. An Anti-ASS vaccine to protect against Agency Sycophant Syndrome

ASS is a terrible affliction that infects more agencies than most people realize. Affected firms deliver stupid metrics to justify their fees, because “the clients ask for them,” and they lack the courage to demand data they really need. The best therapy for this tragic condition is good GUT health (Gauge, Understand, and Terminate) for metrics:

  1. Gauge whether the numbers reported show the impact on a client’s goals and organizational priorities,
  2. Understand the contribution to those priorities and goals, and
  3. Terminate any metrics that aren’t showing value.

Although some agencies with ASS respond well to improved measurement diet and exercise, in stubborn cases the Anti-ASS vaccine is indicated. Unfortunately, Anti-ASS carries a high occurrence of fatal side effects. But agency staff that manage to survive treatment typically demonstrate dramatic decreases in the use of the terms “media value,” “impressions,” “likes,” and “ad value equivalency.” In many cases, a significant fraction spontaneously transform into data geeks. Yes, it’s a radical measure, but it may be the only way an agency can keep their accounts.

10. A Magic Bullet Single Number Vaccine

For decades the Barcelona Principles and numerous other efforts have tried to inform communications professionals that there is no single number or magic bullet to measure PR. Still, there exist a surprising abundance of organizations that spend their days in a futile search for this mythical creature. To eradicate the affliction once and for all, we recommend a vaccine that dissolves all rose-colored glasses, deprograms fake reality, and instantly enrolls one in a measurement class. ∞

Santa vaccine illustration by Bill Paarlberg.

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About Author

Katie Paine

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