Your Guide to the Many Great Things We Learned at Paine Publishing’s 2020 Summit on the Future of Communications Measurement

An image of the headquarters of Pain Publishing's 2020 Summit on the Future of Communications Measurement.

Paine Publishing’s Summit Control Center.

This fall, for the first time ever, Paine Publishing’s Summit on the Future of Communications Measurement was held virtually. We all missed the in-person warmth of discussion, networking, and cracking open lobsters (okay, we missed the hugs a lot more), but the level of discussion and the exchange of ideas was better than ever.

Three Days of the 2020 Summit on the Future of Communications Measurement

The Summit was held over three days, each with its own theme:

Day 1—Purpose-Driven Campaigns: Lessons from the Front Lines
featuring presenters Carol Cone of On Purpose, and Dustin Supa of Boston University. (Subscription required.)

Day 2—SCR and CSA: What COVID Taught Us About Employee Communications
featuring presenters Cindy Villafranca and Rachel Forrest of Southwest Airlines, and Emily York of Beam Suntory. (Subscription required.)

Day 3—The Challenge of Measuring Trust: Learn How Marathon Oil, Microsoft and Georgia-Pacific Do It
featuring presenters Meg Fligg of Georgia-Pacific, Deanna Centurion on Marathon Oil, and Eve Stevens of Microsoft. (Subscription required.)

Use the links above to read recaps of each day’s presentations (subscription required).

A Summit tradition #1:
Shankhassick Farm tour, and the lobster feast

Each year the Summit features a tour of Shankhassick Farm (the headquarters of Paine Publishing, you can learn about the history here) and a traditional New England lobster feast, including boiled lobster and steamed clams. This time around, with the Summit held online, we sent each attendee a Shankhassick Farm-in-a-Box gift pack, including many locally sourced foods and drinks.

No, we didn’t package up live lobsters, chickens, or Princess Leia the Wonder Dog. But we did manage quite a few goodies from our farm and others in southeastern New Hampshire. Just to make you jealous, here’s the menu of what you missed. Or click on the GIF below to see the Farm-in-a-Box unwrapped (thank you Emily Kinsky!):

A Summit tradition #2:
Attendees’ insights on “What’s next for communications measurement?”

At the conclusion of every Summit we ask all the attendees and presenters to give their own ideas on “What is the future of communications measurement?” (For example, here’s the collected wisdom from the 2016 Summit.) This year, instead of debating the question over wine and beer and lobsters, we traded insights on Zoom. Attendees whose time zones were cocktail-hour-appropriate cracked open their libation of choice from their Shankhassick Farm-in-a-Box. We toasted the end of another Summit and speculated about what 2021 and beyond might bring.

Watch everyone’s ideas here, if you like. Or, here’s the short answer: The overwhelming consensus is that algorithms, similar to the one Microsoft is using to measure trust (see Eve Stevens’ presentation on Day 3), will be a much bigger part of the measurement equation. Those algorithms will not only identify themes, levels of trust, and perhaps intent to purchase, they will also take into account budgets and resources to determine the most cost-efficient tactics or strategies. Many felt that issues around societal impact, diversity, and employee communications will play an increasingly dominant role in our metrics.

What’s next for the Summit?

As we write this, the future looks alarmingly uncertain, albeit with some welcome rays of hope. But one thing we do know: We will be gathering next year, probably in October, and with a tremendous amount of luck and vaccines, in person. We will hear insights from the forefront of communications measurement, take another tour of the Farm, and share our thoughts about the future of communications measurement. Until then, stay healthy and do good measurement. ∞

About Author

Katie Paine

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