Public Relations Tactics

How to measure success in 2013

January 4, 2013

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to win more awards in the major PR competitions in 2013? Or, have you never won such an award, but were hoping this might be your year?

The applications are due soon for a couple of the biggies — specifically, the PRSA Silver Anvils (early entry submissions due Feb. 18) and the AMEC Global Communications Effectiveness Awards (The Early-bird entry deadline is Jan. 28).

Key categories

Having judged the Anvils for several years, I can say that one of the most important elements of preparing a winning submission is to understand the scoring criteria.

For example, of the 40 possible points for a Silver Anvil entry, 10 go to initial research/goal-setting and the back-end measurement. It will be difficult to win if your entry isn’t strong in those categories.

Remember that Silver Anvil judges face hundreds of pages of entries to review. So, the easiest way to trim the number of entries that we read in full is to look for the research and measurement sections.  These are often very light, or even missing. If those sections aren’t there or seem like an afterthought, then there isn’t much of a reason to read the rest of the application.

Similarly, as the AMEC awards are for measurement-based programs and are hosted by the organization that initiated the Barcelona Principles, the judges closely adhere to those Principles.

At their most fundamental level, these awards are about setting good goals and then measuring them. For the volunteer judges, it is easier to dismiss the applications if those key links aren’t clear, or worse, if the applicant doesn’t describe the goals at all.

There are several other factors to consider when creating your entries:

  • Clearly state your goals and what you accomplished. Don’t make the judges work to see these connections.
  • Show how the program and its measurement drove the client’s business.  Tangible examples of how public relations has improved business for an organization place highly.
  • Use client endorsement and quotes.  Avoid a mysterious “magic measurement recipe.”  It should be clear and transparent how you measured the results. If you write something like “proprietary special formula based on neuroscience,” then you will raise a few eyebrows.
  • Write like a normal person. Make the application easy to understand, perhaps by imagining that you are talking to someone who has already read 10 applications and needs to see what is different and exciting about yours.

Beyond the basics

Since the Doc Rock columns covered most measurement basics last year, we are going to delve into more case studies in 2013. I’ll base many of the columns on presentations from the PRSA/AMEC Measurement Symposium held at the PRSA 2012 International Conference.

Next month, we’ll hear from Kelly Groehler, director of communications operations at Best Buy. At the Symposium, she talked about how Best Buy is managing a rapidly changing retail environment and the role of measurement during times of transition.

Want to understand how the Barcelona Principles apply to the challenges of big-box retailers facing the Amazon.coms of the world?  You’ll see the answer in next month’s edition.

As always, please send your measurement questions and concerns to

David B. Rockland, Ph.D.

David B. Rockland, Ph.D., is the new-retired partner/CEO and managing director for the research and change communications businesses at Ketchum. He has held leadership positions in corporate communications and research throughout his career, with extensive global experience in both areas.


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