2014 is definitely both the best of times and the worst of times for measurement.
The best of times is reflected in the papers presented at last March’s International Public Relations Research Conference; all kinds of cool data points about how PR efforts can be tied to real business results. And, there’s been some great work done on standards and a few companies are pledging to adhere to them.
On a more personal note, in the last 18 months I have helped some of America’s largest and/or most admired companies translate their corporate goals into meaningful metrics that the PR/Corp Com/Social Media team can report on a regular basis. Click here to find out how I can do this for you.
So if I just looked at the clients and the research I’d say that 2014 is the year that PR measurement finally grew up.
But then I look around and see two giant obstacles keeping measurement in in the dark ages – agencies and vendors.
Agencies continue to pay lip service to the standards but still offer meaningless metrics. IPR and AMEC have been the two biggest proponents of the Barcelona Principles and the subsequent measurement standards, but only a tiny percentage of the members and trustees have openly pledged to implement them (see Measurement Menaces of the Month). Heads of some of the largest PR firms express support for the new standards but allow their various affiliates to create new metrics monthly. And deliver AVE-riddled measurement reports on a regular basis.
Then there are the vendors who insist on keeping social and traditional data apart. Why can’t vendors grasp the idea that customers don’t care whether the media they’re reading is delivered in print or on an iPhone? Worse still are the vendors that spew out reams of so-called reports that contain meaningless charts and 100 data points—yet not a single one is tied to goals.
I’ve always believed that the darkest hour is just before the dawn, daylight savings time notwithstanding. So I’ll just be keeping my fingers crossed that 2014 will be the year that measurement puts on its big boy pants, grows up, and becomes a business person.