Thursday, April 06, 2006

Dateline London -- Measurement: A Universal Language

More thoughts from Mr. Wambold's travels...

The Holy Grail of PR is a sound, quantifiable ROI measurement model. Of course holy grails become holy grails because their success is elusive. To put it another way, it ain’t easy to quantify PR programs. There are subjective issues at the most fundamental level (is all PR good PR? – even that supposed truism is frequently debated), and debatable quantifiable propositions (Does a full page article readily translate into the cost for a full page ad?).

This was another of the issues Chris and I put to our U.K. and European counterparts during our recent trip to London. And to state it succinctly, this problem exports (or imports, depending on where you sit).

Our counterparts told us that they face the very same challenges in quantifying their PR programs in their countries that we do in ours. Clients justifiably and understandably want to hold communications programs accountable for investment ROI just like every other aspect of the business is.

Mostly, our own sentiments were echoed that it is less important to work on the "correct" measurement metric than it is to propose a measurement metric.

This coincides with the fact that while most of our clients want to see some quantifiable ROI, what form that takes varies greatly with their own individual business goals and needs. There are industry standards – our agency utilizes the Weighted Opportunities to See metric as its model – but in our experience, one-size-fits-all measurement programs work about as well as one-size-fits-all PR programs. By embracing our clients’ desire to measure the effectiveness of our work on their behalf and utilizing industry standard methods, while at the same time customizing that model just like we customize other aspects of their PR model, our clients tell us we’re striking the right balance. And what we heard last week is that a similar model is gaining acceptance in the U.K. and Europe.

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