Measurement Week Interviews: Frank Ovaitt

September 16th, 2014
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Measurement Week Interviews: Frank Ovaitt

 This week is AMEC’s International Measurement Week, and to honor it, we reached out to some of the top measurement experts to get their take on measurement dos and don’ts, common mistakes, and how they found themselves a member of the Measurati. Check out our latest newsletter for measurement insights from 11 other experts in the field.

Let’s hear from today’s featured expert, Frank Ovaitt, president and CEO of Institute for Public Relations. Among his long list of achievements and executive positions, Ovaitt is a member of the PR News Measurement Hall of Fame, was an adjunct professor of applied public relations and public affairs research at George Washington University, and was awarded the David Ferguson Award for contributions to PR education by a practitioner by the PRSA Educators Academy.

What is your “measurement moment,” the time you knew your career was becoming measurement-focused?

Let’s call it “research focused,” which includes not just measurement but a whole lot more in terms of the knowledge we must bring to bear to be the best public relations professionals.  One of my assignments at AT&T was to build from scratch a communications team to serve a new business unit.  Since this team would be 10 people, it struck me that if one was a research person, the other nine would be so much more effective.   As in-house teams became smaller, the need had to be met in other ways, but it seems to me the one-in-ten rule is as valid as ever.

What is your proudest measurement moment?

When a hard-nosed business executive told me to put more money in my budget because he liked how we used research-based insights to create and measure our programs.

What is your most important piece of measurement advice?

Don’t think of measurement as a report card, but as a GPS that tells you if you’re making progress and if there’s a better route.  Measuring public relations always makes it better.

What’s the most common measurement mistake you encounter?

Thinking that measurement is a report card.  Who doesn’t hate waiting for a report card, good or bad?

What do you see as measurement’s biggest challenge ahead?

Continuing to educate so many new practitioners, with new skills and points of view, on what research and measurement can do for them, their work and their careers.  The Institute for Public Relations’ work to deliver the science beneath the art of public relations is never done.

Bonus question: You just won the lottery. What’s your dream job?

Owning and running a small Kentucky horse farm.  Hey, priorities change when you win the lottery!

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