Measurement in PR has 'not changed in 20 years'

The PR industry has learned nothing about measurement in the past 20 years, say industry experts.

Industry insight: Mark Westaby and Philip Sheldrake on measurement
Industry insight: Mark Westaby and Philip Sheldrake on measurement

The comments came in the latest PRWeek podcast, which looked back at the recent International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) conference and the PR industry’s continuing struggle with measurement and evaluation.

Mark Westaby, director at Spectrum Insight, and Philip Sheldrake, chair of the CIPR's measurement and evaluation group and partner at Meanwhile, both attended the conference.

Westaby said: ‘I learned at the conference that very little has change in the past 20 years – the only thing that has is that the words social media appeared on a few slides. The industry hasn’t moved on – at all.

‘A real problem is the PR industry thinks its job is to get media coverage or run a good event – that’s not the case. The PR industry’s job is to influence and change behaviour of consumers and stakeholders.

Sheldrake said that the industry was still not getting measurement right because it was stuck on using media coverage as the best way to justify its success.

He said: ‘For too long public relations has been synonymous with media relations – whereas media relations is just a subset of public relations. So much of the work done so far has been about how to measure the media and broadening that out is critical to AMEC’s work in the next two to three years.’

Sheldrake also warned that the industry needed to stop searching for a universal measure.

He said: ‘The industry has set itself up for a fall. Having nailed the coffin now on what was AVE – at least I hope we’ve nailed the coffin, never was there such a useless measure in all of mankind – we now are in the hunt for a new universal measure, and we will never find it.'

To watch the full podcast click here

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