I'm back in Miami at the 9th annual International Public Relations Research Conference surrounded by the best and brightest in the industry. Starting at the ungodly hour of 7:30 am this morning and going until 6 at night, I'll be absorbing everything I can from 80 or so presentations that will be given in the next three days and will do my best to report on the most interesting developments in the field of PR measurement.
So far, we measurement geeks have already come up with a few tantalizing new measures. First there's the "Contribution Index." This is one designed for non-profits that need a way to evaluate board membership. Lets face it, there's always someone on the board that is a no-show or what we call a sh_t-stirrer. We'll call that their NS/SS rating. So to calculate their Contribution Index, just tally up each board member's attendance record and contribution to the mission and weigh it against his/her NS/SS rating. Anyone falling into the negative numbers should be replaced.
Then there was a discussion that built on the "ROI of your Pants" discussion. I confessed as to how I actually kept a mental note of how many leads and/or business cards I get depending on which suit I wear. My theory is that the brighter the color of my suit, the more contacts I make. This is of course based on theory that I'm so short, if I don't wear fire engine read or shocking pink, I get lost in the crowd. So far, despite my political leanings, I find red more successful than blue, and pink wins over peach.
Seriously, there is some great stuff coming out of this conference. I got a sneak preview since I helped judged some of the papers in the "Top Paper" contest. By far the most interesting one I found was by Phillip R. Rosi II of San Diego State University on "Managing Inactive Publics." We all know that we should focus on those stakeholders that most directly impact one's business. But it could be your "inactive public" -- those that aren't aware or don't care at all -- that may have the biggest impact. Take today's military for example. Because we are in a time when fewer people have served in the military -- and perhaps most importantly -- fewer of our elected leaders have served, the support for military spending is weakening. Defining your inactive public requires looking far into the future and figuring out not just the support you need to be successful, but identifying potential threats from a group of stakeholders you might not even have thought of. Maybe it's not your most pressing problem, but it is certainly one to think about.