Monday August 18, 2014
Paul Noble leads the course that we run for AMEC on the measurement and evaluation of PR. The latest edition of the book that Paul co-authors on the topic has also just been published so we thought it was time to ask Paul for his thoughts on what progress is being made in this area. This is what he told me....
"Promoting ideas and products through designated ‘days’ and ‘weeks’ is one of the oldest tricks in the book. In the UK, national no smoking day has been on the calendar as long as I have been in PR, and that’s far too long; the next one is March 11th 2015 - since you ask. Perhaps, only the (sometimes dodgy) survey is more established in the publicists’ toolbox.
But a regular presence in the calendar can indicate an issue that has established itself as being of some import. And next month sees an initiative that is particularly important for us PR and communications professionals. Running from 15th to 19th September, AMEC’s Measurement Week, is a new world-wide campaign to highlight the importance of measurement in communications.
While Measurement Week is an opportunity to highlight this key issue on a global scale, it is much more than a bit of awareness building.
I have had an interest in measurement and evaluation for something approaching 25 years, and I used to be pretty pessimistic and about progress towards solving the ‘problem’ of evaluation. There was plenty of rhetoric but very little action; I was in the habit of introducing talks about evaluation with something along the lines of: ‘The solution to the problem of evaluation is just around the corner – it always has been and always will be’.
No longer. Some real progress has been made over the last few years – much more progress than over the previous twenty. So what has changed?
There are three intertwined threads.
First, there has been true cooperation and partnership between the national and international PR trade bodies. So, although the promulgation of the Barcelona principles in 2010 – the springboard for recent progress – was coordinated by AMEC, it was with the support of the CIPR, PRCA, PRSA and many others.
Second, the professional development available for us all has embraced measurement and evaluation wholeheartedly. One example is its increasing importance in CIPR professional qualifications such as the Diploma and Advanced Certificate. Another is the success of AMEC's online college (run by the PR Academy) whose lead qualification is the heavily subscribed International Certificate in Measurement and Evaluation, recently backed up by a course on social media measurement.
Third, the rhetoric has now been overshadowed by specific guidance and tools to help you apply the new thinking that has evolved since Barcelona. Evaluating Public Relations, the book I co-author with Professor Tom Watson as part of the CIPR’s PR in Practice series, has recently seen its third edition. AMEC has put the Barcelona principles into practice with its valid metrics framework and a similar approach has been developed by the UK’s Government Communication Service in the form of guiding principles for monitoring and evaluating communications – supported by recommended metrics. And the CIPR is in the process of updating its research, planning and management toolkit for members of the institute.
So you can plan your celebrations to mark next month’s Measurement Week secure in the knowledge that there is now the guidance and tools to enable the rhetoric to be put into practice. I’ll be doing my bit by first participating in a roundtable discussion on measurement and evaluation at the CIPR’s London HQ on Tuesday 16th (Sept). I’ll then be spending two days the running sessions on ‘Evaluating relationships and reputations’ on both Guernsey and Jersey.
So if you are planning a late summer break in the Channel Islands, why not take advantage of some professional development while you’re about it?"