Public Relations Tactics

Introducing the ‘Ask Doc Rock’ column: Answers to your measurement questions

January 3, 2012

Jessica, a promising new assistant account executive with our firm, requested a meeting due to an “emergency client issue.”

She said that she didn’t understand what went wrong. 

“We had this incredible launch of the new Loved Ones Alarm Clock.  Jon Bon Jovi played.  There were 80 journalists at the party,” she said.  “After it was over, I did a media analysis that showed we had gotten 500 hits and 10 million impressions, worth at least $20 million in Advertising  Value Equivalents (AVEs). I sent the report to the client. He said that he had just gotten back from a big measurement meeting in Barcelona, had taken a look at the media analysis, and told me if he ever saw something like this again, we would lose the account.  What went wrong?”

I asked what she was trying to do with the launch.

“We wanted to throw a great party to get journalists there and create buzz.”

“The client didn’t hire you to throw a great party,  Jessica.  They hired you to make people aware of this new alarm clock, generate sales and make sure that consumers know the special features of this product.  And, when you say ‘buzz,’ do you mean the sound the alarm clock makes?”

Adding value

This exchange happens often between measurement people and account people.

Jessica went to a great school for communications and she learned about measurement and setting goals.  But she and many practitioners decide that cool ideas and press coverage matter more than that boring goal-setting and measurement stuff.

That’s not the case.

There are four simple things you can do to ensure a satisfied client or boss when it comes to measurement:

  1. Set goals before you start the project. Determine who you want to change, what should change and when this will happen by.  Jessica’s goal could be to reach 25 percent of all consumers ages 25-34 without children by the end of 2011 with the message that the Loved Ones Alarm Clock exists.
  2. Add quality to measurement of media coverage.  Jessica should have gone beyond tracking impressions.  Determine the number of target audience members you reached and whether those messages included key product features.  And forget about AVEs — they’re useless.
  3. Work with your client. See if your client has an ongoing brand or advertising tracking survey (most companies do).  Ask them to attach several questions to such surveys that track outcomes instead of  launching your own survey right away.
  4. Give them what they want. If the client conducts any form of market analytics, then provide your media measurement data to the client or his analytics department in a manner that will be useful to their market analytics efforts.

There is a lot more to discuss about furthering measurement in your own organization and what market analytics mean.  We started this column to answer your measurement questions. Please send them, or comments about things you read in this column, to Each month we will pick one or two of them to answer here.

We’ll also follow the travails of  Jessica as her career grows.  Along the way, we’ll meet a cast of characters who will teach Jessica about surveys, social media measurement and other challenges that face PR practitioners every day.

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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