The Future of Measurement is…?

An animated gif to illustrate the future of measurement.

The Paine of Measurement, November 2020

It’s been a very busy month here at Paine Publishing. In October we hosted the Summit on the Future of Measurement, I attended virtually the PRSA International Conference (PRSA ICON), stayed up too late watching election returns, and of course then watched days of post-election results — all from the comfort of my office. Each of these, in their own way, have pointed to the future of comms and measurement. So this issue of The Measurement Advisor is devoted to these signs of what is to come for 2021 and beyond.

Do “events” have a future?

2020 has upended most of the way we used to think about communications and measurement. (Remember how, up until this year, we used to throw around the term “disruption” like it was something to be welcomed?) One of the biggest changes has been in how we host events.

Toilet paper, whiskey, employees, and trust: What you missed at the Summit

This year was our 20th or so annual Summit, and our first held virtually. In this issue we have recaps of all three days and eight presenters. Start here: “A Guide to the Many Great Things We Learned at Paine Publishing’s 2020 Summit on the Future of Communications Measurement.”

In the process of hosting this year’s Summit we learned a lot about what makes virtual events work, or not. Read about our (mis)adventures in “4 Vital Lessons on How to Improve Your Virtual Conferences.” You’ll learn something about how to handle your own future events.

Diversity comes to PRSA ICON

To its great credit, PRSA devoted probably half of its four-day ICON conference to discussions, awards, and celebrations of diversity. For the first time in the decades I’ve been a member, I actually feel like PRSA—never mind the rest of the PR world—might get a little less white in the not too distant future. It’s long overdue.

Clearly, going forward, any organization that isn’t addressing diversity and measuring improvement doesn’t deserve to remain in business. With luck, someone will have a case study of well-measured diversity efforts that we can share (here’s my email address). (See our articles on D & I in previous issues here, here, and here.)

Trolling the pollsters 

And how about yet another “polling crisis?” There’s a myriad of reasons why the political polls were so off. This discussion by Salvatore Balbones is my preferred explanation, but read more in-depth about it in our Measurement Menace of the Month.

ChartThrobs rule the day

The election was made so much more interesting by media geeks and data visualization folks, like The New York Times and Steve Kornacki, (who rumor has it didn’t sleep for a week, and on whom I totally have a crush). Especially to us data geeks and measurement wonks. I was particularly charmed when Twitter dubbed Steve a “#ChartThrob” ♥️ Come to think of it, that’s a sobriquet all measurement fans should adopt. Hmm… perhaps the future will bring a special subcategory of Measurement Maven.

And speaking of Measurement Mavens, don’t miss this month’s Maven,  Maria Olmedo-Malagon of the U.S. Census. Did you know the Census has to measure all its communications?

Even in print the data visualizations that this political go-around spawned are amazing. Here’s one from designer Karim Douïeb, to illustrate his point that “People vote, land doesn’t.” It’s the perfect riposte to those U.S. county-by-county colored maps that seem to show a few isolated blue islands in a sea of red:

And then then this amazing map, from, of course, The Washington Post, to illustrate the changing winds of our political attitudes

All of which makes our traditional measurement reports look incredibly mundane. So here’s a first resolution for 2021: up your data visualization game.

Finally in this issue, don’t miss our two excellent monthly columns:

Measure on, and stay healthy,

Illustration by Bill Paarlberg based on a photo by marc falardeau on / CC BY

About Author

Katie Paine

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