The Institute for PR just published an exhaustive piece of research on implementation of PR industry standards for measurement. It’s a fascinating read that I strongly recommend.  But since there are probably fewer people who want to actually read an academic paper than have implemented the standards, I thought I’d give you the Cliff Notes version:

If you want to be taken seriously in your organization, want bigger budgets, and a larger role in strategic planning, then implement the standards.

While the numbers aren’t overwhelming, it’s still good news for those of  use who have been advocating for standards for two decades. One quarter of respondents said they are using standards and another 13% are considering standardization.

But without a doubt the most interesting finding was the correlation between implementing standards and the respondents’ perception they are taken more seriously and play a larger role in the planning process within their organizations — in other words,  standards compliance gets you closer to that proverbial “seat at the table.”

What is also fascinating is that acceptance of standards is not dependent on size of company or size of budget.  Small companies were just as likely to adopt standards as the large ones.

Some other aha moments:

  • “Those who use standardized measures are also more likely to view their organizational culture as more innovative (M=4.93) and more proactive (M=4.63) than non-standardizers
  • Rates of standardization are higher among practitioners who are relatively more engaged in communicating with various stakeholders across social media. In addition, those whose departments focus on more traditional media relations campaigns are much less likely to adopt standardized measures
  • Standardizing organizations are significantly more likely to measure outcomes (M=4.01) than are non-standardizing organizations (M=3.12).
  • Practitioners who report standardizing their measurement programs also report they are taken more seriously in the c-suite, are more likely to take part in long-term organizational planning, and are more likely to believe that the CEO or other top executive think that public relations contributes to financial success”

What I do find amusing and certainly ironic is that neither of the institutions who employ the authors of the study are apparently interested in either being innovative, or being taken seriously. Neither Teneo Strategy nor the USC Annenberg school have bothered to sign the Pledge to Support the Standards.

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