Challenge your PR measurement and evaluation practices

Here it is. The silver bullet for measuring and evaluating public relations is to be honest and be insightful. There is no holy grail that will solve your measurement challenges. You will need to think for yourself. And that is the good news.

That was my take-away from the AMEC Global Summit on Measurement held this past May, where more than 300 PR professionals from 39 different countries discussed the state of PR measurement and evaluation.

Unfortunately, recent studies show that best practices spread slowly beyond the conference rooms. The 2019 PRCA Census revealed that 26% of respondents did not use any evaluation methods at all. Meanwhile the ICCO World Report 2018-2019 stated that while the use of Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) is finally becoming history in UK and US, in rest of the world the use of this invalid metric has not declined regardless of the increased efforts of the PR industry associations – in both the big PR firms and individuals alike.

We need to step up to earn that seat around the table. And it all comes down to “having some balls”.

Dare to admit that measuring communications is tough. No one has “cracked it”, and even the best are still developing measurement practices through trial and error. There is no one tool. There is no one-size-fits-all set of right metrics. Dare to admit there is no “one number” that will reveal the value of communications. And you certainly won’t get it from your output metrics.

Dare to challenge. Ask yourself if that 8.7 billion reach/impressions/opportunities really matters if your task is to communicate with the 100 who can make a difference to your business. Why are you obsessing over the number of followers if you don’t know who they are – let alone how they can help you achieve your business goals? When it comes to media coverage, the trend, based on several presentations at the AMEC global summit and corridor discussions, was focused on “coverage that matters” such as in-depth articles in Tier 1 & 2 media. 

We all crave insights. But be critical.  The same old scorecard renamed as an insights report does not make it one. Remember that share of voice is a measurement, and knowing what it consists of, why an increase or decrease occurred and what impact it had on your audience is an insight.

Dare to share. Also in measurement, you need to be agile and join forces beyond your PR colleagues to stay relevant. The good news is that this is happening. According to the USC Annenberg 2018 Global Communications Report, 87% of the respondents believe [PR’s] relationship with marketing will become somewhat or a lot more integrated in the next five years. Without breaking down the silos and combining different data sources across organization, we will not be able to demonstrate the impact of PR.

Dare to fail. Innovation comes from not being afraid of getting things wrong. This management trend is crucial to measurement and evaluation. If we only report on what makes us look good, we close the door from learning and improving – and the only thing we demonstrate is insecurity.

Dare to invest. Collecting meaningful data, in-depth analysis, moving from quantity to quality requires resources. But how long can you afford not to invest? “Until we can prove the value we bring, we will not be able to charge the price we should, and so [you should] pay people the amount they deserve,” notes the PRCA PR & Communications Census 2019. This is also true on the non-agency side, and definitely a crucial question when it comes to professional pride and the future of the profession as whole.

Dare to practice what you preach. What are you doing to improve your measurement and evaluation practices? Are you falling back on only delivering what your organization or client is asking? Bringing theory to practice takes motivation. As ICCO Chief Executive and PRCA Director General, Francis Ingham stated: “It is painfully clear to me that several of the large (PR) agencies are simply not practicing the same standards in their offices abroad as they are preaching at home.”

We need to take action now. The resources are there such as or Try. Fail. Learn.

If you aren’t sure where to start, talk to us at EMG. We can introduce you to some new measurement practices to help you better evaluate your PR and communications efforts. Together we can solve your measurement challenges, prove the value of your campaigns and where improvements can be made to maximize success. Change in evaluation and measurement is happening.

You are better off knowing. 


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