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Measurement Standards at the Global Business Level

Public relations executives fought for years to earn their place in the C-suite. That fight for credibility and respect has taken on a new dimension, as advertising and marketing — two disciplines long grounded in measurement — are converging with public relations through the “integrated” approach to communications that is increasingly common. Senior management speaks the language of metrics, and public relations professionals will need to be quantitative and measurement-savvy to remain vital for their organizations.

Of course, “measurement” isn’t new to public relations. Every practitioner has heard about measurement capabilities from clients, business executives and internal budget committees: “How do you measure the value of public relations?”, or “What’s the real value we’re getting out of campaign X, or Y program expenditure?”

The difficulty in answering these questions in a way that the client can understand is due, at least in part, to a lack of proper standards in measuring the value of public relations.

At PRSA, our objective is to help each of our members be as successful professionally as they can possibly be. Our various efforts focus both on helping individuals acquire the skills they need, as well as enhancing the strategic value of public relations. A big part of the latter effort is aimed at helping the profession develop new concepts and principles for standards in measurement and metrics.

From our “Business Case for Public Relations™” to our refocused advocacy program, we recognize the need for clearly demonstrating our profession’s value, and at the same time, leading the industry’s discussions and efforts to establish standardized methods for public relations program measurement.

It’s with the latter in mind that I was honored to represent PRSA at a half-day conference in London Nov. 17, co-hosted by PRSA and AMEC, titled, “PR Measurement Metrics — From Concept to Implementation Reality.”

The PRSA-AMEC London Measurement Conference was the first initiative under a year-long strategic partnership PRSA recently entered into with AMEC. And we couldn’t be happier with the early results from this collaboration.

The conference featured several fascinating presentations and speeches on the importance that measurement plays in the public relations profession, along with new approaches to global standards and metrics for public relations program measurement. Check out the resources and speeches here and here.

For those who could not attend in person, we made part of the program available as a free PRSA webinar; the initial hour of the program was a self-contained overview of the issues, a segment which concluded with our speakers taking questions from our webinar participants here in the US.

Perhaps what was most interesting to see at the conference was the level of palpable excitement and interest among industry professionals for developing the best methods to accurately and efficiently measure our success. It’s vital that we find a way to do that, at a time of shrinking budgets, economic austerity and pressure within the business community to produce measureable results — now.

I’m optimistic that both PRSA and the profession are on the right path toward reaching this goal.

Our partnership with AMEC, in addition to recent initiatives with NASDAQ and the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, are strengthening PRSA’s role as a leader for the profession as we head into a decade where organizations of all stripes will place an increasingly high value on the role of public relations. It’s our goal to help the profession establish standardized methods and metrics for program and campaign measurement. And while there is much more work to be done in this arena, PRSA — and you — have a place at the table as these discussions unfold.

William M. Murray is PRSA president and COO.

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William Murray

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