It's about time we evolve and make measurement mainstream

PR, marketing, social, and digital need to continue to focus on integrating strategies to foster the greatest business impact with measurable results.

Once again, I had the pleasure of attending the International Association of Measurement and Evaluation in Communications (AMEC) in early June.

As a PR professional focused on metrics, it’s refreshing to be surrounded by experts from all over the world, who are dedicated to PR measurement. In attendance were media intelligences companies, researchers from PR agencies, and a growing number of corporate comms professionals from global organizations such as Unicef, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Phillips, Nissan, eBay, the UK Government, and more.

I share a quote with you from one of the presentations that should resonate with all of us who have a career in PR. Stuart Smith, global CEO, Ogilvy Public Relations, quoted a colleague of his, Jennifer Scott, who said, "PR people have a collective failure to be curious about why what they do works."

PR, at least at the Cleveland Clinic, drives our national awareness. That’s good, right? But, why and what is the real impact (outcome) on the organization? We need to ask that question and be able to provide our leadership with the answer.

Although social media has played a major role in consumer behavior and has contributed significantly to the changing media landscape, no one effort can stand alone. PR, marketing, social, and digital need to continue to focus on integrating strategies to foster the greatest business impact with measurable results.

Iencourage you to learn about the Barcelona Principles of PR Measurement. They were developed in 2010 by a number of organizations that felt a strong need to create standardization to PR measurement. My guess is the vast majority of you reading this column never heard of the principles. As you build your measurement program, there are great resources to assist you.

I also want to share some key concepts of the Barcelona Principles that may surprise you.

Advertising Value, or AVE's as they are known, are not an accurate value of PR. We as an industry need to move away from ad value toward measuring outputs, impact, and, most importantly, outcomes. Outputs are the overall coverage – quantity. Impact is what happened to awareness and understanding of your company. Outcomes – the golden eggs – are the results that matter and demonstrate business impact, or in my case, patient volume, and changes in behaviors.

One speaker said that providing news clips is like showing pictures of billboards and how many times they appeared. We need to focus more on the impact so the C-suite fully understand the real value of PR – from "nice to have" to "necessary to have."

Let's get in the game and measure up to our colleagues who are working hard to make PR measurement mainstream in our profession. It's about time and we evolve and get more curious about why what we do matters a great deal.

Eileen Sheil is executive director of corporate communications at Cleveland Clinic, one of the country's top nonprofit academic medical centers. Her column will focus on the myriad challenges of healthcare PR and topics related to the management of the comms function. Sheil can be reached at

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