Mentors teach us a lot more than we realize

The point of this column isn't to harp on about "why you should measure better," but to take a moment and reflect on why we do the things we do every day.

Mentors can have a great impact on a PR pro every day
Mentors can have a great impact on a PR pro every day

Almost a decade ago, I had the pleasure of being introduced to a gentleman named Don Bartholomew, when he was hired to take on the GM role of the MWW’s new Dallas office.

At the time, I was leading the agency’s social media department, DialogueMedia, and had been at it for about a year. I was lucky enough to get to meet with many of our team members on a regular basis, but given Don’s penchant for measurement – and social media’s randomness at the time – it was a good thing for me that he joined our team.

At the time, we were mostly tracking blog and forum posts, multimedia such as photos on Flickr or videos on YouTube, and a number of other nascent platforms (Twitter had just launched that summer). It was interesting to hear from someone with a bit more perspective on how we could prove the value of what we were recommending and doing in the social space.

We collaborated on getting into Radian6 and even developing our own measurement process "secret sauce," which was something extremely new to me. These conversations are something I think of a lot when working with clients today.

That’s why I was saddened to hear, earlier this month, that Don had passed away as a result of an illness. We hadn’t spoken in some time, but would randomly cross paths on Twitter, or in a blog comment somewhere or other, and I can honestly say that, even in the short couple of years that we worked together at MWW, he had a solid impact on what I do every day.

We didn’t agree on everything, nor did we have the same way of handling certain situations or client opportunities. We did, however, both know that understanding measurement was critical to being successful in public relations. Sure, you could say that about any industry, but Don was one of a number of outspoken measurement addicts – I say that with a smile – that made it part of their career duty to espouse how key smart, honest, open measurement was to us all.

The point of this column isn’t to harp on about "why you should measure better," but to take a moment and reflect on why we do the things we do every day, at work or in our personal lives, and that there are a lot of people we come in contact every day that can have an impact on what we do – large or small – and that we have myriad opportunities to learn something to make us better practitioners.

Having now had the better part of ten years to see how a 20 minute conversation over breakfast or a sidebar on a Tuesday afternoon might shape what I do for myself – and my clients – it seemed appropriate to share with each of you.

As for me, I’ll measure Don’s impact on me with the fact that I’ve probably cited him three to five times in this column over the years, and note that he was my go-to blog reference for all things measurement.

Here’s to you, Don.

Tom Biro is SVP of Allison+Partners' Seattle office. His column focuses on how digital media affects and shifts PR. He can be reached at or on Twitter @tombiro.

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