by Mary McNamara, Director, MC McNamara Research — The Barcelona Principles are just that: Guiding principles. They are obvious and good guidelines. For some time I’ve felt they deal with legacy issues and it’s time to move on to more sophisticated issues such as measuring business outcomes.
For specialty measurement agencies it’s frustrating that the professional bodies that promote standards have a membership of monitoring companies who also offer ad equivalency. It’s difficult to point a client to a credible professional body unless there is clarity and demonstrated agreement around legacy issues.
The Standards and Conclave are useful for guidance and as an industry standard. They give me credibility when I need to show a government client there is international rigor and agreement around measurement. They are helpful to enlighten a client who may have used a historical measurement system and has been asked what the capability public relations has compared to other disciplines, especially marketing and advertising. However, it is unhelpful if recent ad value has been sold to an organization, especially if you are in a client meeting with marketing and the advertising agency. If public relations teams have been proving their worth by how much their work might have cost if only they had been given the budget — well, it’s not a strong negotiating position.
On the bright side, the standards have been a guiding influence and benchmark for companies that really want to add value. We work for government clients and publicly listed companies. Lately I’ve been asked to:
- Measure the return on overseas journalists’ news outcomes in various regions and report on the messages they promote about New Zealand;
- Assess differences in the consumer, business, and activism voices in sector analysis;
- Look at post disaster analysis for a publicly listed company and government organizations;
- Evaluate public health messaging and shifts in debate, including policy; and
- Compare competitors in a publicly listed utility sector and report on what financial analysts write over time.
Advertising equivalency isn’t mentioned in discussions about this work. These clients are pressing for better and more reliable news and social media samples, more meaningful metrics, better and usually more succinct reports, and integrated media and social analysis which is linked to business outcomes – share price, customer churn, government policy decisions, and so on.
For 2015 I think the walls will continue to come down between advertising and communications, especially in New Zealand. We are a small, open economy and we have to get things done or sink. Working to a common purpose and with a shared budget was always smarter, and now social media helps make it happen. Advertisers and public relations professionals will have to agree on some common standards and measures for social media. Organisations will demand more accuracy from their monitoring agency for news and social; ‘near enough’ probably won’t be ‘good enough.’ New Zealand and Australia are good markets to lead this discussion because our media pool is smaller and more easily defined. Big data needs to be scaled to mean anything at all; there are only 4.5 million of us here. ∞
Photo of Mary McNamara by Katie Paine.