Agony Aunt: Jackie Elliot on measurement, social networks and nightmare managers

The chairman of Cathcart Consulting gives her verdict on your professional conundrums

PRWeek Agony Aunt: Jackie Elliot on measurement, social networks and nightmare managers
PRWeek Agony Aunt: Jackie Elliot on measurement, social networks and nightmare managers

Who needs measurement?

I see the learned, steeple-fingered gentlemen of our profession have developed a new ‘PR measurement framework’. Isn’t it time everyone realised most clients want a decent slug of coverage and aren’t bothered if we prove it works or not?

What a fascinating array of clients you must be working with – certainly none bothered by too much learning. Or perhaps you are with a City firm – they usually have an old-fashioned attitude to evaluation. Why wouldn’t you want to prove that what you do works? Are you afraid your less than rigorous approach to strategy development and creative execution might not stand up to proper analysis? Are you still dealing in the ‘thud factor’ of PR measurement: each tiny cutting and Mail Online mention given a whole page in a spiral-bound tome gathering dust in the corner of a reception area? Get your act together fast before one of your competitors introduces your clients to Barcelona Principles 2.0. The framework shows how to link PR objectives and implementation to corporate principles and business goals. If you can’t be bothered, I’ll help you with your CV.

How social is a social network?

Q1. Do good contacts matter? I get through to most people via one of my social media networks and I’ve never met some we have worked with recently.
Q2. My boss picks up the phone to almost anyone. She seems to know hundreds of people in different businesses and in different countries. I don’t know whether everyone likes her as much as she might think, but it is an impressive network. How can I develop one like that and do I need one?

I’ve conflated these two questions as the response relates to both. The answer is yes. Yes, good contacts matter and yes, you need a strong personal network. Soc­ial networks can be decidedly antisocial when it comes to developing meaningful personal relationships. You know about birthdays, career moves and kittens but you know nothing about motivation, attitudes and beliefs until you have taken the trouble to get to know someone. It is ins­tructive to look at the latest Edelman Brand Relationship Index and to apply some of that business thinking.    

The cornerstone of a good relationship is trust. When we have decided to trust an individual or a brand, a bond is created that lasts a long time. Friendship needs to be nurtured and social media help, but those channels can’t replace face-to-face connection. Go and meet people. "Listening, storytelling and having purpose" are the characteristics Edelman found consumers valued in their most trusted brand.

Not managing to manage

We have a terrific long-term agency director: he works really hard, is good at new business and great with clients. But he is a nightmare to work for and we are losing precious account managers.

Tough one. I have worked with difficult types like that. Sometimes you are lucky and the pain is outweighed by the skills and experience the team absorbs. You don’t say whether this person is disorganised, or unpleasant and demanding. I’m assuming you have tried people management training and one-on-one sessions? Never leave correction until the performance assessment. And don’t admonish in public. But no one person is bigger than the company and your shining star may be a black hole.

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