EDITORIAL: McKinsey's role in AA's branding effort raises concerns about the general perception of PR

Last week we reported that McKinsey & Co. is playing a major role in the development of the Aluminum Association's (AA) new branding campaign.

Last week we reported that McKinsey & Co. is playing a major role in the development of the Aluminum Association's (AA) new branding campaign.

The AA has hired Hill & Knowlton to lead the integrated effort, but will initially work with the management consultancy on the program strategy in order to identify the best model for driving sales of the commodity. The budget and scope of the campaign will only be decided after McKinsey has completed a review of past programs. McKinsey's involvement at that level has certainly been a talking point, but at the heart of this story is a more troubling issue than that of the angst caused by the traditional conflict between management consultants and PR firms. The AA's skepticism about the effectiveness of PR, specifically as it relates to other large-scale campaigns by industry associations, should be the real cause of dismay and concern for PR professionals. Measurement and the ongoing questions of how, what, and why to measure the effectiveness of programs are certainly parts of this issue. But there is a larger matter at stake. Associations like the AA, with their many stakeholders, major public affairs initiatives, and sometimes limited resources, should be natural consumers of PR. The PR industry needs to communicate the commercial savvy of a well-executed PR program as effectively to the associations as it does to their corporate brethren. The AA, in spite of its reservations, has taken the leap and decided that it is worth it to try an integrated program. It has identified an agency to help it do that. But how many other associations will decide that it's not worth the risk? PRWeek presents measurement roundtables Together with the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), PRWeek is sponsoring a series of quarterly roundtables focusing on the measurement of PR. The IPR is an independent foundation for public relations that is dedicated to research and education. Each of the four roundtables, which will take place throughout 2004, will focus on a separate pillar of the IPR's membership - corporations, agencies, research providers, and academia. Each session will center around crucial questions relating to measurement, including how each of these constituencies define measurement and use metrics, and the perceived importance of standardization of measurement across the industry. Questions will be designed to draw each group out on their expectations for the continuing development of metrics systems, and their relative importance in PR strategy and practice. The goal of these roundtables is to communicate best practices in measurement for the benefit of the entire PR industry. The IPR's Commission on Measurement and Evaluation will synthesize perspectives from each of these groups into a study that compares and contrasts their views, along with a summary and recommendations. PRWeek will report on each of the roundtables as they occur. It is also hoped that the content of these events will generate discussion outside these isolated groups. The pages of this magazine, including our feature this week, are often dedicated to this important topic. We are pleased to work with the IPR to create these forums to advance the debate.

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