Takeaways from PRWeek’s Measurement conference and Hanover Communications Roundtable

11.22.22 / 4 min read

A busy week last week with in-person events in London. I spoke on the opening panel at the PRWeek Measurement conference and then presented at a strategy symposium roundtable discussion organised by Hanover Communications.

The fact that we have a conference dedicated to measurement is a clear indication of how far the industry has come, and how far we have moved away from AVE. At the PRWeek conference, I said “I wish that we could have a measurement conference and not mention AVE at all.” This was a cheeky reference to the Chair’s opening remarks who mentioned counting column inches, and it was a fair point for the chair to make given how negatively PR has been impacted by AVE.

A few takeaways from me from both of the sessions:

Planning is key

Doing the hard yards at the start, understanding how each campaign serves the overarching business objectives and building a programme to measure these objectives is key.

Choosing the right metrics

With the amount of data available it is tempting to measure everything. This just leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s best to understand what good looks like and stick with that. I’ve built an Impact score methodology that can be tweaked for every business and sector and can clearly demonstrate how effective Comms are. This is a combination of metrics that are applied to the individual case.

For example, sentiment doesn’t really work for consulting firms as they speak neutrally about global events. However being thought leaders on topics and having strong spokespeople is key so we factor this in. Using AI for this data set allows us to compare with competitors and peers giving far more context to traditional quantitative share of voice. 

Using data to pivot

Once you know how you are measuring you need to be doing this in real-time as much as possible. Monthly or quarterly reports are great for planning strategically but with data more accessible than ever we are now able to do this every day.

Having a voice can improve sentiment of coverage

I’ve looked into this a lot over the years. Does having a named spokesperson improve the overall sentiment of coverage? The data I have suggests that it does. An ‘Unnamed’ spokesperson might be able to give more juicy information, but a named spokesperson can be on message and provide more context to statements. I personally think that it is just human nature for journalists to be more favourable to spokespeople that they have a relationship with and with whom they can discuss the wider context of one dimensional statements.

Cost of Living is front of mind

We have all seen examples of good and bad cost of living campaigns. Our data tells us that the conversation around cost of living has increased by 500% over the last year and that people are more likely to share this coverage on Twitter. This is as much an opportunity as it is a threat. 

A strong measurement framework supports all of this and works in difficult times as well. Here are just a few ways it can help:

  1. Demonstrating internally the impact of communications and how you compare with competitors
  2. Understanding what good looks like and what to double down on when it doesn’t
  3. Thinking strategically on issues like cost of living. Good content is good content no matter what the topic is
  4. Identifying white space where we can use our measurement framework to identify the direction we will go in for a specific topic
  5. Understanding how we are impacting on the overall objectives of the business. Good content, in line with our measurement framework, can support hiring the best talent, improving awareness amongst our stakeholder groups, nurturing our customers, and pretty much everything we are trying to achieve. 

A quote that I often use is from the Ken Burns documentary on the Vietnam war. ‘If you can’t measure what is important, you make what you can measure important’. We fell into this trap with AVE, however it is now possible to find a way to measure what is important. You just need to do the hard yards at the start.