Exclusive Survey: Wrestling With Measurement The Main Event In ’05

Although there remains a significant gap between talking about PR measurement and actually doing it, measurement is still the biggest concern among PR execs as they head into 2005, according to an exclusive PR News/Counselors Academy survey. The survey, conducted earlier this month, queried PR News subscribers and Counselors Academy members (who run their own PR agencies) on a bevy of issues that are likely to be on the front burner next year, including enhancing CEO relationships and the greatest threat to business revenue next year: measurement (see tables). While many corporate PR execs continue to drag their feet on measurement - mainly because they have such a difficult time getting buy-in from top managers who often think it's some sort of freebie - several blue-chip companies have taken the lead in bringing science to what is inherently an art form. PR is not "an output game but an influence game," says Dean Davison, senior VP/Public Relations & Communications for GE Insurance Solutions (Kansas City, Mo.). "And how do you know your influencing anybody without measurement?" Davison admits he's puzzled by the reluctance among senior managers to cough up the cash to pay for measurement services, saying, "Spending $100,000 to $200,000 on an agency and not spending $10,000 on some sort of measurement is troubling." Never mind dropping that kind of coin on measurement; the amount allocated for what, we're constantly told, is the most pressing challenge for PR execs seldom goes higher than around $2,000 (see PR News, Dec. 15, 2004). Even so, 58% of the respondents said measurement is Job One for 2005. Whatever. Nann Miller, a PR consultant who founded the PR firm now called Miller Geer Arizmendez Inc. (Cerritos, Calif.), says the problem with taking PR to a new (and more measurable) level is that, despite all the chatter among marketing executives for quantifiable returns on their investments, it's not going to happen until corporate America addresses the status quo. "There's too much division among advertising and PR, and the financial managers. No one has learned that, for everybody to win, you have to work together," she says. "And legal thwarts a lot of creativity and puts fear into PR execs. [The PR profession] has to figure out a way to educate the legal profession about understanding PR." But with only 3% of respondents saying compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley and Reg FD is a priority heading into 2005 - regulations that require PR, legal and IR execs to work hand-in-glove - that prospect seems unlikely anytime soon. Contacts: Dean Davison 816.448.7604, dean.davison@ge.com; Nann Miller, 408.866.7798, nann@comcast.net Measurement On The Brain What, In Your Opinion, Is The Burning, Top-Of-Mind Issue For PR Execs In 2005?* Show measurement/ROI of PR efforts Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reputation management The economy Rising healthcare costs Source: PR News/Counselors Academy What's On The [PR] Horizon? A Look Back...And Forward 1. How often did you consult with your CEO throughout the year? Response Percent Response Total Regularly 57% 179 Frequently 27% 84 Seldom 12% 36 Never 5% 15 Total Respondents: 314 2. How does that level compare with the volume of meetings with your client CEO in 2004? Response Percent Response Total Same 69% 207 More 21% 62 Less 11% 32 Total Respondents: 301 3. Among the following issues what is your biggest concern heading into 2005? Response Percent Response Total Measurement and ROI of PR 58% 133 Compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, Reg FD 3% 6 Improving Crisis Management 15% 35 Employee/Internal Relations 24% 54 Total Respondents: 228 4. What is keeping your agency's mid-level practitioners up at night? Response Percent Response Total Better understanding of clients' business 37% 78 Better grasp of financial, sales issues 29% 61 Enough clips and the ability to measure output 35% 74 Total Respondents: 213 5. What is the greatest threat to business revenue in 2005? Response Percent Response Total Growing clout of mega supermarkets 4% 8 Worsening of War in Iraq 20% 41 Global competition 34% 72 Outsourcing 17% 36 Poorly skilled job candidates 25% 53 Total Respondents: 210 6. What is the greatest threat to client retention in 2005? Response Percent Response Total Growth of Procurement 9% 18 Inexperienced executives executing plans 37% 73 Churn on both sides of the table 38% 75 Losing PR for direct, event marketing 17% 34 Total Respondents: 200 7. Have you seen any up-tick in PR's role within client organizations? Response Percent Response Total Yes 57% 119 No 43% 91 Total Respondents: 210 8. Conversely, has the rise of procurement in the past year jeopardized PR's leadership role? Response Percent Response Total Yes 22% 43 No 78% 154 Total Respondents: 197 9. What is the greatest threat to staff retention in 2005? Response Percent Response Total Improving job market 14% 25 Staff burnout 26% 48 Lack of professional development and training 6% 11 Lured away by better pay 14% 25 Lured away by better benefits 1% 2 Not enough opportunities for advancement 16% 29 Hours or work location not to their liking 3% 6 Not enough rewards, bonuses, ownership opportunities or other financial incentives for extraordinary performance 18% 32 Mergers and acquisitions 3% 5 Total Respondents: 183 10. What had the most negative effect on agency revenue in 2004? Response Percent Response Total Staff turnover 10% 17 Client miscommunication 6% 11 Client failure 5% 8 Economy 17% 30 The Presidential Election 2% 4 Client turnover 6% 10 Increased competition 7% 12 Shrinking budgets 30% 52 Bad Debt (Clients not paying) 4% 6 Over servicing clients 13% 22 Total Respondents: 172   Source: PR News/Counselors Academy

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