Death of Intuition-based Measurement in Communication
Twenty first century comms experts have seen major disruptions marking the end of intuition in measurement and evaluation and the rise of information-based communication strategies with concepts like ‘individualisation’ or ‘individual customer acquisition’ with the use of data.
Back in 2003, an IBM study found that 68 per cent of chief marketing officers were unwilling to take advantage of social media, and 56 per cent found it difficult to quantify return on investment (ROI). But companies like Microsoft, for example, took notice of the social media developments early, prompting the purchase of online advertiser aQuantive for US$6 billion…Google also acquired internet advertising company Double Click Inc. for US3.1 billion; shortly after we saw the launch of Chrome, created with a view to developing expertise in web tracking (In Data We Trust, 2012)
These acquisitions were tell-tale signs of the direction in which the tracking and measurement of information and communication was moving. This increasing realisation, in part, led to the Barcelona Principles. By and large, demonstrating value through measurement and evaluation inspires confidence among PR practitioners and the profession’s reputation.
Several arguments abound for failure to measure, these include: no culture of evaluation within the profession, lack of research skills among practitioners, doubts about the importance of the process (Evaluating Public Relations: A Best Practice Guide to Research, Planning and Evaluation) and that there are some things that just cannot be measured. Addressing the culture, for instance, it has been argued that it is unreasonable to expect the same level of accountability in public relations as one would for sales agents and engineers.
While this may be true, it is not the whole truth. Some may even say it's not fair, but life is not fair!
For decades, public relations was seen as the soft side of the corporate arena, however this is longer the case as companies have refined the manner in which they engage audiences with the use of big data and research. Ironically, appealing to the ‘soft side’ of these consumers is a direct result of hard data.
Communication Strategist, Anne Gregory noted “it was never true that if you told people to do something often enough and loud enough they would eventually do what you wanted them to do…it is even less true today”. It is no accident that companies such as leading financial institutions know exactly what to offer their customers. It is because they use data-based marketing and public relations strategies.
Inevitably, being able to measure stakeholder value at all touchpoints is essential in determining success or failure and while gut instincts about the effects of a campaign still has a place in the industry, hard data is best. As D. Edward Deming puts it, “in God we trust, all others bring data.”
Image Source: Modern Survival Blog