I recently received an "analysis of press coverage" presented to a client by its agency and it reinforced what I've said for a very long time: Agencies should not be in the measurement business. Auditing ones own work is what took down Arthur Anderson. And I wish it would take down another agency or two so that the rest of them would learn a lesson.
This "analysis" listed every article that appeared as a result of a press conference/event/release. It showed that 40 bazillion impressions were made and surprise surprise all were positive and there wasn't a single negative article all month.
So what's wrong with crowing about your own success? Nothing, as long as you call it crowing and not "analysis" or "research."
First of all, I have never, in 20 years of PR measurement, seen an agency report that showed that their work was anything less than stellar. At the same time, I've scientifically analyzed A LOT of results from the same agencies that were anything but stellar.
True research systematically collects data from a defined set of publications or media outlets. It analyzes the content of all articles, not just the ones that were favorable or appeared as a result of the activity. The analysis should be done by an unbiased member of the target audience, not by the person who wrote the press release. AND the competition's results would be analyzed at the same time, to see whether perhaps the competition had even more favorable coverage.
Unfortunately, very few agencies apply such methods to their "measurement reports." So as a result, very few clients get an accurate picture of what is really happening to their image, nor do they have a clue as to what their customers are really seeing. Reports such as these are what give PR measurement a bad name.
I'm sure there are lots of agency folks out there who will argue this point, and I welcome their comments. But I say to their clients: "Remember Enron."