Where is the Next Generation of Measurati?

generation gapFrom the Desk of Katie Paine

For  years, my friend Lisa Binzel has hosted a gathering of the “Measurati” (thanks to Don Bartholomew for the nickname) in Washington the night before PR News’ annual measurement conference.  During the course of the evening various measurement mavens, colleagues, researchers, and others related to our field wander in, share a drink, catch up with old friends, weigh in on the latest industry maneuvers, and genuinely enjoy each others company.

It’s one of those evenings worth clearing all calendars for. This year was no exception, but it did give me pause. For the first time there was talk of “what next?,” “retirement,” and “is it worth it?” I got the distinct impression that the endless struggle for better data, better research, and more meaningful metrics was taking its toll on my colleagues. It also rang a bell. I’d had similar conversations with my colleagues at this year’s IPRRC.

I can’t blame them. I’ve spent the last 27 years in that battleground. And I will no doubt spend my next 27 years fighting the same battles. But then what?

As I review my list of Measurement Mavens and members of the IPR Measurement Commission, I notice an awful lot of gray hair. We sit on these panels and boards and commissions, read hundreds of of papers, and enjoy endless debates on the advantages of Krippendorf’s Alpha over Scott’s Pi. We don’t do it because we are a bunch of weirdos, but because we love and care passionately about the business of research.

Where will the next generation of Measurati come from? The “kids” that I trained 20 years ago at Delahaye have raised their families, planned their retirement, and are looking forward to packing a suitcase full of resort wear rather than research reports. The universities are turning out graduates with far better understanding of research best practices than I ever had, but it will be years before they work their way through the business hierarchies to accumulate the power and influence in their organizations that today’s Measurati enjoy.

We need to start right now to find the Gen Xer mid-level managers working their way up the corporate ladders and let them know that measurement is the magic that will move them much faster. We’ve got to find the ones that have the business degrees—or at least a good enough understanding of how business operates so they can relate to the CFO. I know they’re out there because I run into them at client offices, conferences, and in all my social networks.

The problem is, most of them aren’t in PR. They’re managing social communities, blogs, and websites. They’re not using services like CARMA to measure results, they’re using Google Analytics, SiteCatalyst, and Socialbakers. Their programs combine a mix of earned, owned, and paid media. And where the line falls between them makes little difference.

Here’s the point: We’ve got to put some effort into recruiting the next generation of Measurati. If organizations like the IPR, AMEC, PRSA, CIPR and all the others with PR in their acronyms don’t broaden the tent a lot, then there will soon be a lot more empty chairs around those meeting tables. ∞

(Thanks to Communicating Across The Generation Gap for the image.)

About Author

Katie Paine

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