Test of success is linking results back to objectives

Almost seven years ago, Procter & Gamble announced it was ditching the commission system for paying its ad agencies, and instead directly pegging payment to brand sales.

Almost seven years ago, Procter & Gamble announced it was ditching the commission system for paying its ad agencies, and instead directly pegging payment to brand sales.

Almost seven years ago, Procter & Gamble announced it was ditching the commission system for paying its ad agencies, and instead directly pegging payment to brand sales. The simple truth was that some agencies had become complacent, and only the most creative and results-driven agencies would survive. The sense of indignation from some agency quarters was ill-concealed, to say the least.

What a contrast that is to PRWeek's cover story last week describing how software giant BMC hammered out performance metrics with its new AOR, Waggener Edstrom, as a fundamental part of its agency search. The marketing industry - and in particular, the PR world - has gone far beyond the days of measurement being just a nice addition to a program. It is now, for many clients, a cost-of-entry matter.

Certainly the issue of measurement and ROI comes up every year on PRWeek Awards judging day. And while there is definite proof of how far we've come since P&G's 1999 bombshell, we still see entries that state objectives connected to sales results and/or attitudinal changes, but that describe results in terms of media hits. Naturally, these entries rarely get past the initial judging stages.

This issue is vital to remember as we near the 2007 PRWeek Awards season. Proper objectives and measurement will likely be the litmus test for Mary Stutts, head of corporate relations at Genentech and the chair of judges for the 2007 awards.

To senior pros like Stutts, who has moved through fields such as newspaper publishing and healthcare, and such areas of expertise as public affairs and product communications, metrics beyond media hits are vital. We've come a long way from complacent firms cranking out mediocre work. We look forward to seeing the further strides the industry has made in this regard in the upcoming crop of awards entries.

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