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March 18, 2007


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Alan Chumley

Great headline. Disturbing premise, though.

I see you are a PR practitioner. You'll know then, that PR is so much more than strictly about product placement and driving sales and thus a sort of measurement by clump ' clip, thud and kilogram factor. (Even if it were, there are many in the measurement world--I won't get into the debate, however--that would tell you that communications efforts can be correlated with behavioural outcomes. Difficult, but not impossible. Direct cause and effect proof? No, statistically probabilities pointing to likelihoods that behaviour changed as a result of input x)

PR is about reputation, trust, relationships among many, many others. All of which can and should be measured if we are to move beyond the perception problem that we know our industry sometimes has: that we are some dark art. Well I think that we've been allowed to stand on the 'we are about words (art) not numbers (management science) shakey leg for too long. If we are to truly secure the professional legitimacy that we know we deserve and to secure and maintain our seat at the c-suite table then we need to move beyond gut instinct measurement methods.

Let's not send PR (and how it's measured) back to the PT Barnum, circus is coming to town, sell tickets days of yore and yester year.

Reply From Jim

Alan, and everyone else who's come to see me from KD Paines blog as the 'PR man from the dark ages,'

First things first, nothing would make me happier than our industry putting to bed all debate about measurement. Our industry owes a great gratitude to all the brains that are wrestling with this issue - because we need it.

Naturally, clients want to see conclusive evidence that the PR fees they are dumping in our agencies are reaping dividends in terms of business growth. Not vacuous piles of press clips, or an iffy, meaningless advertising value figure - real behaviour change causing business growth.

However, we need to be careful that we don't misuse measurement, specifically in the planning and idea generation process.

Measurement (or lack of) can be used as an excuse for the timid and conservative marketer to stifle big thinking. It's an excuse not to be fired, and to do the same as everyone else.

Truly original thought means something new. Something never been done before. Something that takes you into the unknown. So it stands to reason that you may not always be able to set a pre-assigned, measurable target.

So my lazy post really shouldn't say 'fcuk measurement,' - but it should say 'stop fcuking with measurement' and allow the ideas to breathe and grow. Challenge ideas for their robustness. Do they instinctively make you think the idea will move people? Don't stub them out because you're worried about how your internal case study's going to look at the end of it. Read a few chapters of Blink, and you'll see it's worth a gamble.

I'd like to see more clients backing their own judgement. Once the idea is executed, then we measure to see if we made the right call.


John Dodds

I hate people who fill their comment with links to their own blog but on this occassion I am doing so because I wrote two large posts about this some time ago. The first details the absurdity of marketing ROI as a concept


and the second highlights one very smart measurement tool that is also frighteningly simple and, in line with your thinking, does so after the event.


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