Monday, July 7, 2008

Researching and Measuring Public Relations

There is a good article by Ted McKenna in the June 30 edition of PR Week called “Measuring Success Starts by Asking Right Questions.” In an ongoing agency dialogue, the question is raised on the appropriate way to research and measure results of PR campaigns. I’ve written about measurement before, but thought this post would be timely with our second quarter reports going out to clients next week.




McKenna raises some interesting ideas for consideration, namely three key points:

1. Metrics for measuring reputation vary widely from client to client
2. Surveys and statistical analysis increasingly make up measurement practices instead of clip counts
3. Metrics serve as the foundation for communications strategy and also provide benchmarks of success

Saxum has a posting for a research account executive to improve this very important client offering (we currently spread duties around) and make sure we continue to lead service in our market. I’ve always valued the need for good research, but have often found it frustrating to convince clients to commit the resources to collect data that they already think they know.

Where I’ve changed my thought process, however, is how many options we have to collect data. The reality is traditional data used to be only collected via telephone, is now changing to other mediums. Understanding how to navigate the Internet for secondary data, recruit virtual focus groups and use social networks is becoming as important a tool as the traditional one-on-one interviews, telephone surveys and the (funny sounding) mall intercepts.

My research friends who I’ve spoken to recently, Bill Shapard of SoonerPoll, Katie Kimberling of Kimberling Consulting and Kevin Jessop of Evolve Research have shared the various methods they are using. All agree that research needs vary from client to client. The same goes for measurement.

My point about evolving research methods directly correlates to how we currently conduct measurement for clients. There is no fixed way to research just as there is not a prescribed tool to measure. Identifying client objectives, understanding audiences and then customizing each is how we ask clients to measure our results for them.

We have a long way to go to find a perfect system – just like the industry as a whole.

As always, I welcome your comments.


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1 comment:

CM said...

As always, right on point. There are few things tougher in the pr industry then showing sucess when sales are not at stake. Not only for a client's roi, but really to measure the success/failure of any given method and effectivity for continued use. Enjoyed the post. - Chebon