Measurement Week Interviews: Mark Weiner

September 22nd, 2014
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Last week was 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. We got such an enthusiastic response that we’re extending our celebration to include all their answers. We’ll be running their answers all this week, and be sure to check out our latest newsletter for measurement insights from 11 other experts in the field.

Let’s hear from today’s featured expert, Mark Weiner, CEO of PRIME Research North America. Weiner was also CEO of Delahaye and was SVP of global research at Ketchum. He is also the author of Unleashing the Power of PR.

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

My first affirmation in the research and measurement field was when I created the company which later became known as Delahaye Medialink. Medialink Research was an organization that began with one person – me – and evolved to more than 100 through organic growth and acquisition to become one of the best known and most highly respected research-based consultants in public relations. Many of my colleagues at Delahaye Medialink now lead top research firms and agency research groups which is another great career affirmation.

Based on our success at Medialink Research and then Delahaye Medialink, I realized my ability to create, develop and advance a research and measurement business. Now, as the CEO of PRIME Research LP, I’ve been given a second opportunity to work with smart associates and innovative clients to build a strong global position among research providers. While considerable time has passed since my “measurement moment,” I continue to offer gratitude for the opportunities presented to me by my colleagues, clients and peers.

What is your proudest measurement moment?  

Through the good works of my colleagues and the clients we share, the quality of PRIME’s work is consistently represented by professional awards and recognition which is always a source of pride. But a recent experience comes to mind: At the end of August, I led two-day PR research seminar to some of Peru’s top communicators at the Universidad de San Martín de Porres in Lima. Following the second day, a student approached me to say that while she learned about PR research during her graduate studies, the subject never made sense until our class. Maybe not my greatest accomplishment but one special moment among so many I’ve enjoyed.

What is your most important piece of measurement advice?

“Begin simply but simply begin.”

What’s the most common measurement mistake you encounter?

“Conventional Wisdom” is the biggest obstacle to change, including the positive changes represented by research-based public relations. It’s a mistake to believe the conventional wisdom that PR can’t be measured; that PR measurement is too complicated; or that PR measurement is too expensive. What really obstructs the PR measurement movement? Unwillingness (not inability).

Tell us a breakthrough story, in which you took your client from metrics to KPIs.

MasterCard is one of PRIME’s most visible and innovative clients. When our partnership began in 2012, the focus was volume and data. Over time, our relationship and shared vision evolved to one focused on insights rather than data. Last year, PRIME’s social media analysis helped MasterCard recognize and overcome market concerns about mobile payments.

In year one, our research adapted social media conversations and analytics for problem detection research. Once marketplace concerns were identified through social media analysis and verified through a survey, the findings were adopted throughout the MasterCard organization to refocus advertising, marketing, product development and, last but not least, corporate communication to overcome market concerns. In our second year of the study, we found that marketplace concerns disappeared due, in large part, to the efforts triggered by PRIME’s research. When PRIME helps clients go beyond PR to inform better business-wide decision-making, it’s a very good day. And, thanks to PRIME’s expert systems and talent, exceptional days are no longer the exception.

What do you see as measurement’s biggest challenge ahead?   
PR research, measurement and evaluation occupy their third stage: The first phase was human-based content analysis. It was accurate and insightful but slow. The second phase represented a rapid swing towards automated systems which were fast and consistent (useful for the torrent of content originating through social channels) but content was irrelevant, data were inaccurate and the findings were flawed.

Now, at the cusp of third wave, research firms like PRIME combine the speed and consistency of technology with the relevancy, accuracy and insights offered only through human expertise. The next big challenge is already here: more and more, research consumers feel trapped by their legacy investments in automated systems when their aspirations have grown beyond the limitations of what pure technology can provide creating a demand for a delicate balance of assets. “Talent, technology and tools” are the future.

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

I love my job. Plus, I’m a stats guy: I can’t justify the odds for playing the lottery.


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