Platform: The ultimate measure of success - As spending on media relations steps up the time is ripe to install a fairer measurement of media impact, says Raymond Wilson

The new year’s resolution for all practitioners in media relations should be to agree the introduction of a standard measure of impact.

The new year’s resolution for all practitioners in media relations

should be to agree the introduction of a standard measure of impact.



In 1997 more than ever before communication managers will aim to

integrate advertising and media relations into their campaign plans in

order to improve their market share. This is good for the advertising

industry and more so for the media relations industry.



However, despite more communication managers being aware of the power of

media relations to influence key audiences, the lack of a standard

measurement means that media relations is approached with less detailed

consideration and attracts disproportionately smaller budgets.



In spite of this, the integration of advertising and media relations

will increase for two reasons: first because consumers are becoming

harder to win over because there is too much advertising and, second,

because of the rising cost of advertising.



Increasingly, advertising will be used for generating awareness, in

conjunction with media relations which will be used for influencing

perceptions.



This partnership works well because each channel, in addition to its own

qualities, has an element of the other’s qualities too. In order to

attract its rightful share of budget, media relations must become more

of an exact science. But how?



Advertising equivalents, which are still in widespread use, assume that

media relations does the same job as advertising. This flawed approach

has been holding media relations back.



The answer is to replace advertising equivalents with a measurement of

impact designed for media relations. These should have similar qualities

to those used in advertising (GRPs and TVRs), to enable marketing

directors to understand better the language of media relations and

assess its power.



Thus equipped they will have ammunition to make a case for bigger

budgets for more powerful campaigns.



Nobody I have spoken to is opposed to the principle that we need a

recognised measure. But nobody can agree on how to make it work.



Naturally, everyone has a view and interests to protect, but unless

these can be bridged there will never be constructive debate which

includes participants from all sides of our industry.



Quentin Bell (PRCA), Peter Crowe (IPR) and myself (client side) have

proposed a system of media relations points (MRPs) based on a percentage

of the target audience reached. It has the advantage of being simple and

basic, but relies on the availability of circulation data which some

media owners do not provide.



It is quantitative only leaving the qualitative measure for separate and

more detailed analysis.



MRPs are a good start and, as an industry, rather than seek another

route we should hasten towards a solution to make it work. There is much

to be done in order to plug the gaps and more importantly catch up with

the electronic information revolution.



I would propose that a working group is formed where members of the

evaluation industry, practitioners on the agency and client side, media

owners, academics and representatives of the advertising world would

come up with a solution by an agreed deadline. A short report

recommending an agreed measure of impact in media relations could then

be published. All the project needs is momentum.



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