As the great and the good of PR and communications evaluation gather together in Bangkok this week for the Annual AMEC Global Summit on Measurement, the age-old question on how do we at the coal face prove our value in the boardroom remains as prominent as ever.
A theoretical revolution
We’ve seen a seismic shift over the last seven years since the first iterance of Amec’s Barcelona Principles, not just in the way we measure and prove success but also in the work that we as PR and communications actually do day-to-day.
Some of those changes have made measurement and proving our value inherently easier. The blending of social and digital marketing with traditional PR services has opened an array of analytics and data opportunities to prove our value to clients as well as to guide success in on-going campaigns.
Similarly, Amec’s measurement framework has made great progress in helping agencies and PR professionals to demonstrate the value of their work terms of tangible impact.
But what has been the practical effect of all this work at the agency coalface?
Fighting tightening purse-strings
When you’re faced with clients and boards cutting down on budgets, while simultaneously trying to reduce over servicing in the agency, how likely is it that practitioners are going to get buy-in from the top to invest in measurement tools that will inevitably incur costs?
The answer is not an easy one, now there is finally a consensus across our industry on what types of measurement we should be doing, there remains a lack of engagement from some in fully implementing best practice.
In response to the growing importance of evaluation, many agencies have invested in new tools and dashboards that demonstrate the value of outputs and outtakes, often in a visual and simple to understand way that works for clients and account teams. But what about that all important outcomes and impact?
Whilst outputs and outtakes are important, if we’re serious about evaluation we simply have to measure outcomes and outputs. If we don’t, how can we possibly prove we’re not talking to an empty room or that the campaign we are working so hard to deliver is still worth the client’s investment?
Putting theory into practice
As consultants we should be building measurement, and the time and costs associated with that into every campaign plan right from the very beginning by following some simple steps:
1. Set clear objectives – both organisational and communications objectives should be agreed upfront – what are you trying to achieve?
2. KPIs and tools up front, if its sales increase you’re measuring think about how you’ll be able to access this data – what will you measure and how?
3. Set measurement periods – when and how often will you measure outputs and outtakes and when and how frequently will you look at impact?
4. Act on what the data shows – often agencies are afraid to measure impact because if a campaign isn’t working they’ve already set themselves up to fall. On the contrary, so long as you are acting on the data and evolving your campaign as you go, what you’re really doing is ensuring success and therefore client retention.
Put simply, proving the business value of our work is fundamental to client retention and growth – and, as those at this week’s Amec conference will be debating, should be non-negotiable.