When I was making my predictions for 2013 . I assumed a fairly steady rate of change, similar to what we have seen over the preceding decade or so. But having just read Signal To Noise, Nate Silver's rockin book on why predictions fail, I realize I am guilty of all the same mistakes that Silver cites in his description of predictive failures. I failed to take into account the changes that were already occurring.
The reality hit home when I glanced for the umpteenth time at the recently released Ragan/Nasdaq study of PR measurement, a recent study of North American public relations professoinals. I’d been reading and rereading it to find a real aha moment, and then it hit me.
I was reading the bit about what free tools people were most likely to use. We’ve seen this question before and as always Google Alerts tops the list. But in this survey, second place went to Google Analytics, a tool that most PR people never touched a few years ago. Next was Facebook Insights and then a host of other social media tools. Even Excel and unique URLs made this, I delighted to see.
But it was the data on the following page that was aha inducing. When asked what tools they actually paid for, after the usual collection of “others” and “whatever the PR agency provides” the number one named product was Hootsuite! .
looked at the list I was also amazed at how few traditional media companies
showed up. Only 6 of the 20 were
companies that even existed when I started KDPaine & Partners, (and yes, we did make the list.) Fully 50%
of the tools mentioned were focused either primarily or exclusively on social media
metrics. Remember this is a survey of 1,467 PR professionals, not social media
gurus. And while consolidation has
occurred, the old stalwarts of my industry that still exist like Carma, Echo
and Burrelles didn’t even get a mention. The message
the days of the mythical boundary between social and traditional media is over, gone as John Hiatt would say, like a Nixon file.
Given the target audience, it’s hardly surprising that the most frequently measured element of a program would be media mentions. But runner up? Web traffic and page views. Third was blog mentions and blog comments. Even the old stand by "impressions" didn't make the top three.
So It’s not just AVEs that have one foot in the grave, it is all the traditional media metrics that we’ve relied on for too long. So now I’m less surprised by the fact that “lack of standards” emerged as the number one biggest problem in measurement. It’s not that we actually lack standards, in fact, we have quite a few already.Its that the standard terms we’ve been using for decades no longer apply to what we’re measuring and there is no replacement. And, the reason there is no replacement is that the old metrics never related to our business anyway, and increasingly PR pros are realizing that they need metrics that cross silos, disciplines and geographies and most importantly, tie back to their own specific programs and objectives.
This data combined with other recent reports, spells doom to silos and those who hide behind them, at least in North America.
And, while it will probably be a few more years before the revolution hits the rest of the globe, if this report from the global alliance is any indication the measurement spring is about to be upon us: http://www.globalalliancepr.org/website/news/integrated-reporting-key-milestone-corporate-communicators-everywhere-5-reasons-why-ceos-and-co