The View from the Summit

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KD Paine & Partners Report Top News and Trends from the Second Annual Measurement Summit, the leading conference about Public Relations Measurement

Public Relations professionals who attended last week’s Measurement Summit were the first to see and hear details of several major pieces of research as well as a new low-cost measurement tool.

Professor Donald Wright of the University of Southern Alabama along with Richard Gaunt, CEO of UK-based Benchpoint, shared the results of the first ever global survey on public relations measurement. Conducted with the support of IPRA, PRSA, IPR (both UK and US), The Arthur W Page Society, and many of the world's PR Associations, the electronic survey gathered data on measurement practices from 1030 respondents in 25 countries. Some of the more surprising datapoints include:

there is little statistical difference in measurement practices between countries

two thirds of the 1000 plus are already doing measurement

Of the 40% who do not measure, 66% in North America plan to do so in the future. The corresponding figure for Europe is 67%, and Australasia 79%. This movement is being led by the Business services, communications, retail and Government sectors.

cost and lack of expertise were the biggest barriers

23% are actively using survey data in their evaluation programs

Another study that premiered at the Measurement Summit, was conducted by Slipstream Group and sponsored by CyberAlert on the attitudes towards media monitoring. The study was based on 1443 responses to an electronic survey that was administered in July and August of 2004. Some of the key data points from the study include:

despite all the technological advances of the past few years, nearly 70% of the 1443 respondents are still clipping manually in house

62% are still using paper-based clipping services

despite the fact that timeliness of delivery was the third most important factor in their selection process and that most expected clips delivery the next day at the latest, in fact, 45% of respondents only get around to reviewing their clips once a week or less

people were generally pretty dissatisfied with their clipping solutions and seemed more likely to add additional monitoring services rather than switch altogether

Another major piece of research that was unveiled during the Measurement Summit was a six-month experiment by Dr. Don Stacks, program director and professor of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Miami’s School of Communication and Dr. David Michelson, Principal, David Michaelson & Company, to determine whether the response rate among consumers different between ads and editorial. The experiment had hoped to find out whether the long rumored “multiplier effect” for PR was real. Stacks and Michelson conducted the experiment by exposing students to four totally “new” products – in fact the products were fictitious to ensure that there we no existing feelings towards the subjects. After extensive analysis and comparisons, there was no statistical difference in responses between the different media (news story, a print ad, a web site and a radio ad). They promised to continue the experiment.

KDPaine & Partners also used the opportunity to preview its new product, the [DIY Dashboard, a Do-It-Yourself public relations measurement system that is designed to make good measurement affordable to every organization. With a starting price of $50 a month, the system enables organizations to completely customize their measurement to their specific needs and generate dashboard-ready charts and graphs instantly.

Also at the Summit, Jim Parker, General Manager of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maine gave this advice on measuring success to communications professionals.

1. First you have to understand what the business is meant to accomplish

2. Then you have to think beyond “just the facts” and drive story telling to make your messages easier to understand

3. Keep one eye on the organization itself – in other words internal communications is just as important as external because without the employees support, nothing happens

4. Think thru the lens of relationships – constantly thinking about what we can do to increase the level of trust, credibility and intimacy

5. Be paranoid about t what is happening in the broader social and political marketplace as well as what the competition is up to

In the ‘You thought you had it tough’ department, Col. Michael Daily of the US Marine Corps recounted his experience implementing measurement under fire in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Turns out that having a handle on what the media is saying was considered a mission critical part of the operation, so Col. Daily set up an extensive media monitoring and evaluation program that was implemented under what had to be the toughest conditions imaginable – dust storms, enemy fire and politics notwithstanding.

Angela Vargo of Southwest Airlines explained how she convinced top management to change perspectives and language based on data that showed how the company had generated millions in ticket sales from just one press release. Even more fascinating were the results of a study she conducted on a standard press release announcing the CFO’s sudden retirement. Expecting the press release to be lost in the muddle, the company was shocked to find that it had generated an additional $2.2 million in revenue because the CFO’s resignation had sparked intense interest and raised traffic levels on their website.

Last year James Fetig of Raytheon discussed the process he went through to set up his measurement program. This year he shared what he and Sabrina Steele had learned from the program and how they had used their measurement reports to demonstrate to upper management the importance of being visible during campaigns around major contracts.

Steve Bracy of CustomScoop piqued the audience’s curiosity with his case study of a major public affairs firm in Washington DC that was measuring and tracking blogs to improve the effectiveness of their communications efforts.

KD Paine & Partners regularly provides PR measurement advice to some 2500 members of their website as well as dozens of clients worldwide. In addition to its website it also publishes The Measurement Standard, The One-Minute Benchmarking Bulletin, as well as numerous white papers, buyers guides and handbooks.

For more information and/or a CD ROM of the Measurement Summit proceedings contact Jeremy Willis, KD Paine & Partners, LLC, 51 Durham Point Road, Durham, NH 03824. Jeremy can be reached at jwillis@kdpaine.com or by calling 603 868 1550.

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Katie Delehaye Paine
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