Measurement matters more now than ever before – An interview with AMEC Chairman Richard Bagnall

Measurement matters more now than ever before – An interview with AMEC Chairman Richard Bagnall

A recap from #CommsCamp measurement webinar with Muckle Media, Managing Director, Nathalie Agnew and guest speaker, Richard Bagnall. We’ve come to the end of our initial 10-week content series #CommsCamp. Although measurement may be the final step of our communications wheel, we strongly believe that measurement is integral to everything we do and is something you should be thinking about at every step. In this session, we heard from AMEC Chairman, Richard Bagnall, on his perspective of measurement and where it’ll take us in the future. Why does measurement matter? As an ex-PR in the early to mid-90s, Richard remembers the days when AVE wasn’t a swear word and column inches were all the rage! As you can imagine, measurement has changed quite a bit but why is it so important? For a starter, you can’t know if you’ve succeeded at something if you’re not measuring the results. Richard explains ‘when you’re driving a car you need to take a number of things into consideration to get to the right direction; routes, speed limits, fuel gauges etc, so if you’re not looking where you’re going who know where you might end up.’ Measurement matters more now than ever before, particularly for those working in PR and communications. We live in an age of accountability with COVID-19 turning our world upside down even more than it already was. Richard predicts budget cuts far and wide in the industry, “Finance directors will be looking at their budgets and cost centres. If they see PR as a cost centre aka an activity just doing ‘stuff’ rather than creating value, you can expect to have your budget cut. You have to prove meaningful measurement to justify your work.” Justifying your worth Richard adds that there has never been more opportunity to count ‘stuff’ than there is now, but it’s not just about counting the things that are easy to count. He quotes Alex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communications at the UK Government, who talks about SOS – sending out stuff (or sometimes a much ruder ‘S’ word!) and the perils of being a PR machine that churns out content and ticks boxes rather than focusing on outcomes. It’s very tempting for companies to simply use a measurement provider when they’re so busy, but the problem is it’s not necessarily measuring the stuff that matters. These platforms tend to be counting media content that is easy to capture (likes, impressions, shares etc). This show people that you’ve been busy doing ‘stuff’ but it doesn’t tell them if you’ve achieved or added value to the organisation. Richard explains “that as PR and communication professionals, we need to stop counting stuff without thinking about what it actually is and start questioning what are the metrics that show added value. This comes from understanding where your organisation wants to go, how communications supports this and blending the 3 Os (outputs, outtakes and outcomes). Outputs – The stuff we have always counted and tends to show our activity Outtakes – What do people think now that they’ve seen or heard the campaign you’re working on? Outcomes – What has changed? Higher brand awareness, more sales, greater engagement with a topic, etc. You need to be able to tell a story to get meaningful measurement. Start with the challenge, benchmark where the organisation is and where they plan to go and tie it in with the 3 Os. It’s about contribution not attribution One of the biggest challenges we face in communications is attribution, particularly when you’re working on something with a large budget that has multiple channels behind it. We’ve all launched a PR campaign to go with an above the line campaign and then struggled to attribute how PR helped the sales figures when blended in with other channels. Richard explains that PR and comms isn’t just earned media anymore, we now operate across paid, earned, shared and owned (see our blog on channels for more on this here), so, we are able to measure and integrate that. It’s much better to demonstrate your contribution rather than fight over very specific attribution, how did PR contribute to a specific effect? You can benchmark this against the organisation’s metrics (sales, spikes, uptake) and weave it together to tell that meaningful story. AMEC, best known for the Barcelona Principles, has created an ‘Integrated Evaluation Framework’ which takes the original Barcelona principles and operationalises them. This shows how organisations with any budget can measure in a meaningful way across PESO, plans, objectives, strategy and activities. It’s all about taking something complicated and making it digestible, plus doing what we all do best which is storytelling. We understand that it’s not easy to turn off a metric you’ve been using for years like AVE, but it’s about educating and supporting your employees, clients and agencies rather than shaming people into adopting new approaches. Find out more about the interactive tool and a wealth of information to guide you through here. Future of measurement Richard sees the future of measurement going in one of two ways. With all the advances we’ve made in the last few years, Richard fears that we’re at risk of going back into the dark ages with the monitoring and evaluation market, due to the massive influx of venture capital into the industry. Data is becoming the new oil and companies see it as making an easy profit. It is predicted that media intelligence software will grow 14.8% over four years. This is hugely attractive to start ups and they tend not to employ experts but salespeople. This raises the issue of price commodity due to lots of similar platforms over promising resulting in things becoming cheaper and cheaper. Richard believes this is a dangerous avenue as these platforms tend to count the things that are easy and is half accurate. Although technology and AI is good for the heavy lifting, we need humans to bring context, relevance and insight against the data it finds. We need people to answer the ‘what?’, ‘so what?’ and ‘now what?’ and software tools can’t do that for you. Nathalie concluded that a common thread from the #CommsCamp series has been “let’s be strategic, make a difference and prove what we did”. If you missed any of the #CommsCamp sessions, you can find prerecordings for all the workshops here with worksheets available for download. For more information regarding our media training courses, please email hello@mucklemedia.co.uk

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