Public Relations Tactics

Dispatch from Dublin: The European Measurement Summit, part one

July 3, 2012

The following is my first dispatch to Jessica, my talented account executive,  from the European Measurement Summit in Dublin on June 13-15.

More than 200 delegates from 30 countries met in rainy Dublin to debate the key measurement skills and competencies for PR professionals. These standards will apply to all practitioners, from recent graduates to senior-level executives. Leaders in the profession also shared perspectives on how best to create a global education program that will promote these skills, abilities and knowledge levels.

In many ways, it came down to basics:

  • Connect what you do to the bottom line. If you can’t describe how what you do drives business or organizational performance, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it.  You need to be able to describe your activities in concrete terms and in the language of the organization you are working with.
  • Know the difference among the three types of metrics used for the evaluation of PR performance. They are: outputs — both traditional and social media results; outcomes — how audiences change as a result; and business results — including sales, employee engagement, stock purchase, etc.
  • Write proper communications goals for your work. If you can’t, then you need to find a new profession. You should be able to express who you are trying to reach, what you want to change about them, how much is the expected result and by when you expect those results to occur.  You can’t measure effectively without clear goals.
  • Leave measurement to the pros. Things like research transparency, survey design and the details of market mix modeling should be left to an experienced researcher. 

    Regardless, you should know what they are and know how to ask for them. Management won’t take you seriously if you still simply count clips and impressions, versus monitoring quality.

Demonstrate value

During the first day of the conference,  there was also a strong consensus that we are often too meek when we ask whether we can measure results.  We must insist that measurement is automatically included as part of any PR program.

However, the delegates had trouble agreeing on the next steps to roll out a global education program focused on PR measurement.  We discussed and voted on several good ideas. PRSA’s Christina Darnowski talked about the need to integrate a measurement education component into every major PR conference, rather than treating measurement as a separate topic. In fact, PRSA is even adding an entire measurement symposium to its 2012 International Conference in San Francisco this October.

Often, PR professionals feel undervalued, and we were not able to fully solve this dilemma in Dublin. But we made progress toward ensuring that in the near future, all practitioners will be able to demonstrate the value of what we do.

On June 15, the Summit continued with the goal of determining standards for social media measurement. I’ll let you know how that goes in my next dispatch.

And by the way, Guinness does taste better in its home country.

David B. Rockland, Ph.D.

David Rockland, Ph.D., retired as CEO of KGRA on July 31, 2017, but continues as part-time chairman. He and his wife, Sarah Dutton, who recently retired from CBS News, have also started their own research and consulting firm to work with Ketchum and other clients at


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