Abby Guthkelch, head of social media engagement at HSBC, was asked about the lack of confidence around such measurement among some in the industry.
"I just don’t understand that. In traditional PR, we’re still bloody talking about AVEs - seriously - and then someone has turned around and said, ‘You can’t measure digital and social’. What is wrong with you?"
In reference to the recently updated Barcelona Principles from the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), which offer guidelines on measuring the impact of PR, Guthkelch said: "It’s that education piece.
"AMEC are trying their hardest to get the standardisation of social media measuring across the industry, but there’s not enough people advocating it and evangelising it."
She suggested there’s not one single monitoring system to suit all, but rather it "depends on the objective of the campaign".
Speaking at the panel session for the launch of the PRCA Digital PR Report at Weber Shandwick’s London office, Lansons partner Lisa Elliott said she broadly agreed with Guthkelch.
"Sometimes we have clients that don’t know what they want from a digital or social campaign, so you have to be clear upfront otherwise they will say, ‘Yet’s just sort it at the end’, which makes no sense at all."
Meanwhile, Guthkelch warned about the practice of clients hiring an agency that will appoint other agencies as part of an integrated approach.
"It doesn’t work. You can’t have one agency policing all the other agencies because they’re only going to be out looking for themselves."
The former Ketchum head of digital and social also said she had "fixed views" about what agencies and in-house teams should provide. Social media strategy "needs to be sat in-house", and so should real-time community engagement. "It should be you talking as your brand," she said.
However, content creation "needs to sit with agencies". "Without a doubt, that’s what we are looking for: expert guidance and assistance, and that creativity. Not everybody is a Red Bull. Not everybody can do it in-house."
Separately, Elliott described as "archaic" those PRs who still don't use Twitter, and asked: "Why would a client need advice on Twitter from someone who doesn’t use Twitter? There are definitely people out there doing that, which I find very interesting."