In a wonderfully surreal moment of synchronicity, I'm holed up in here in the Outer Banks, finishing up the chapter on measuring blogs for my upcoming book on measurement while reviewing the responses to my recent blog on PR Value.
First of all, thanks to all of you who have taken up the measurement cause and spread the word. Secondly, John Wagner asks that we call him a heretic for suggesting that PR shouldn't be measured. I don't think he's a heretic, but we will name him a "Menace" in the next issue of our newsletter.
Here's why: It's clear that after years of struggling for the proverbial "seat at the table," it clear from the recent CIPR study that PR is starting to truly gain the respect and ear of the C-suite. The problem is that when we get to that table, if we're armed with "gut instinct" as Wagner advises, and the marketing folks show up with charts graphs and hard data about what has worked in the past, we're going to look like idiots. Can you imagine if the CFO walked in and said "I know we're making money because my gut says so and I see checks coming in?" He'd be out the door faster than you could say Sarbanes Oxley. And we should be too if we can't come up with some good numbers given all the measurement tools that are out there. It's simply fiscally irresponsible not to measure your PR results.
John also claims that you "can't accurately measure how many people read or view a media story." We've heard this for years, and its spurious argument. Who cares -- audited circulation figures have been believed for years by marketers and advertisers -- if they can use them to justify spending hundreds of millions of dollars, why shouldn't PR people use them to justify spending their millions or thousands.
John also says that you can't measure how many people "understood your key message." Uh John, are you such a dinosaur that you've never heard of an opinion survey? Of course we're not advocating media measurement as the only research tool. The best measurement programs combine media analysis with opinion research, web site traffic analysis and other metrics to measure not just outputs but outcomes as well.
And to John's claim that PR can't be measured, we offer the Southwest airlines case study that ties millions of dollars in ticket sales straight back to specific press releases.