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.
What is your “measurement moment,” the time you knew your career was becoming measurement-focused?
I was working in the Research & Information Center at H&K in DC. We had been working for a corporate entity involved in one those “David vs. Goliath” situations. Our client was Goliath … but all the client was seeing was big binders of clips that looked like great coverage. This was a VERY long time ago (cut & paste days), so as I labored over those clip books I could see from the articles that our client was getting hammered in the media.
The “David” had a lot of the discussion advocating their position on this issue that impacted consumers. I just thought it was so interesting that all the account team was interested in doing was sending big clip binders. About that time, I read an article about Katie Paine and the work she was doing – I think it was with the Department of Energy. I was intrigued. I was in Washington, her company was in New Hampshire … where my family lived. I cold-called looking for a job … and a few months later I was on my way to Portsmouth, NH working for Katie and The Delahaye Group, where I quickly learned it was definitely NOT all about big clip binders!
What is your proudest measurement moment?
I’ve been blessed to have many. I was fortunate to count several large tech companies among my clients in my early measurement days. Quarterly presentations of results in Silicon Valley were the norm. The lessons I learned through those presentations – often to groups of 6-10 senior communications managers – was invaluable. For one: always know everything about any negative coverage – even if it accounts for less than 2 percent of your client’s coverage. Trust me, they will ask.
Second: candy helps. Sometimes presentations can be long and it helps to have your audience awake with a little sugar buzz! And never take for granted why you’re there. I had been presenting to one client for two years – every six months. During one presentation the most senior executive in the Comms function joined. Midway through the first set of slides he asked – in all seriousness: “Remind me again why we do this measurement stuff? What am I supposed to get out this information?” Definitely NOT a question I was expecting – but answered through a rapidly beating heart.
What is your most important piece of measurement advice?
Don’t let it get too complicated and don’t try to do too much with one measurement program, trying to please many audiences. In the end, no one will be happy. For one of my tech clients, we set up a coding scheme that was very complex – but was meant to provide all the nuance the client was looking for. When the data was coming back, we realized there were problems. It was Katie Paine who took a look at what we were trying to do and said, “You’re crazy … your target audience does NOT read coverage that way, so you are wasting your time trying to make the analysts represent the target audience will all this coding!”
What’s the most common measurement mistake you encounter?
People seeking to measure “awareness” by doing media analysis. Coverage in the media will show you the *exposure* of your story … but it will NOT confirm levels of awareness; for that you need a stakeholder survey.
Tell us a breakthrough story, in which you took your client from metrics to KPIs.
I have a global technology provider making that journey right now. We conducted three phases of research last summer/fall. Phase 1 looked to evaluate best practices in measuring KPIs – what industry experts were advocating. The work of AMEC on the Valid Metrics Framework was a central part of our findings.
We also looked at what other similarly-sized companies – both in tech and other industries – were currently doing for measurement. We interviewed account leads on several large Edelman clients as well as some non-client organizations. The third phase involved interviewing key executives and staff across the global network of the client to uncover what, if any, measurement they were doing and what was on their “wish list” for showing the success of their programs.
Synthesizing all that research led to KPI recommendations and a pilot program. The implementation phase that was to kick off in Q1 this year was put on hold as the company went through some reorganization and revisited its communications priorities in light of a changing marketplace. Calls and meetings are underway now to restart the implementation of KPI tracking across both regional headquarters and local subsidiaries. Check back with me in six months and I hope to have an update for you.
What do you see as measurement’s biggest challenge ahead?
With the explosion and growth of social/digital media, communications professionals are faced with much more content to monitor, track and measure. Finding the right balance (and budget) appears to be a challenge for many of my clients.
Bonus question: You just won the lottery. What’s your dream job?
Twenty years ago I would have said “choreographer for the Rockettes or the Super Bowl halftime show” … now I’m inclined to say “successful advocate for our military veterans.”