PR News Q&A: Tim Marklein Takes Measure of the Changes Coming to PR Measurement in 2011

Tim Marklein lives and breathes PR measurement. As executive VP of measurement and strategy at Weber Shandwick, Marklein is charged with helping top-tier clients assess the value and impact of their communications efforts. This makes him well-qualified to recap the state of measurement in 2010, and make some predictions for 2011. Marklein will have more to say about measurement trends as a presenter at the PR News Measurement Conference, to be held March 1 in Washington, D.C.

PR News: What were the biggest trends and developments in PR measurement this year?

Tim Marklein: Two things. First, there was a pretty significant trend toward integrating traditional media and social media analysis in a richer way than we've seen in past years. You have more vendors who are partnering to offer this type of measurement. And, second, there's been a move to drive measurement standards like the Barcelona Principles. People have come together to define global standards of measurement, and created a platform for future discussion on a number of issues.

PR News: And what are some of those issues to be discussed?

Marklein: One issue that gets a lot of attention is moving beyond AVEs (Advertising Value Equivalents). This is really a matter of more education and adoption of different practices. Another is embedding social media metrics more broadly into a PR program, as well as standardizing core media measurement to shift the focus away from a more tactical view of a communications program to a strategic view that can be tied to the business objectives.

PR News: Have you seen any shift in what metrics are required by the C-suite?

CEOs have always had an appreciation of reputation, but haven't always had that conversation in a data-driven way with their communications officers. I do see more of that happening now, though. I also see a trend with CMOs and CFOs and their dashboards—they are demanding good metrics from PR and corporate communications, so PR professionals need to take a hard look at their own dashboards to make sure they provide such metrics.

PR News: What will be new and different in 2011?

Marklein: We see a big opportunity around "inline analytics." This is analysis that overcomes distinctions between online and offline. Right now there are tools available that measure two or three things really well. But there's a need for tools that can measure eight or nine things well across online and offline, and we'll see more of those types of tools in 2011. Another trend we'll see is a shift beyond thinking about measurement as a back-end, after-the-fact activity. The notion of metrics and analytics is taking hold across the business. It won't be about analyzing a campaign, but about making analytics a living and breathing part of the enterprise.

PR News: What is your New Year's measurement resolution?

To keep it simple. The challenge for those of us who do this for a living is how to make this understandable to a PR person not steeped in measurement, or a CEO who wants to quickly know the impact of communications. The real challenge is keeping it simple without dumbing it down.

Tim Marklein  will be speaking on the must-know trends and next practices in PR measurement at the
PR News Measurement Conference on March 1 at the National Press Club in Washington DC.

  • Katie O’Connell

    I’m curious to know, when Tim says there is a “need for tools that can measure 8 or 9 things well across online and offline, and we’ll see more of those types of tools in 2011,” where does he see these tools coming from? Which vendors should we be looking at for these types of tools? Any recommendations?