Avoid ‘Brothel Metrics’ and Provide Insights Instead: So Sayeth PR News’ Measurement Hall of Famers

KPI

We live in a time when data and research are viewed by many as a hoax, the root of a plot hatched by a cabal of urban elites and eggheads to dash your assumptions and cast doubt on your dearly held opinions and beliefs. Luckily for professional communicators, that trend has not made a dent in the momentum created by those who would put data and measurement at the core of all PR activities.

Four of the people who've helped engineer that momentum toward research- and insights-based PR joined me on Thursday, Sept. 21, for a Twitter chat (#PRMeasure) as part of AMEC's annual Measurement Month. This was the fourth consecutive year PR News and AMEC have organized a Twitter chat featuring members of PR News' Measurement Hall of Fame. This time around the participants were Andrew Bowins of KPMG LLP, Johna Burke of BurrellesLuce, Elizabeth Rector of Cisco Systems and Mark Weiner of PRIME Research.

I asked Andrew, Johna, Elizabeth and Mark 22 questions in the course of a swift hour. The two themes that these Hall of Famers hit on passionately were the absolute necessity to be in accordance with the C-suite's business goals, and to focus on insights rather than eye-catching but ultimately senseless (and useless) metrics charts.

 

 

 

Questions about which metrics are most important to the C-suite miss the point entirely, they suggested during the chat. What matters are the business insights that only PR professionals can provide to an organization. And there's a not insignificant side benefit of providing business insights, rather than cold metrics: PR would play a greater role in integrated communications efforts. Mark Weiner pointed out that the centrality of data in integrated marketing communications will probably always cast PR in a supporting, rather than a leading, role.

 

 

During the chat, the Hall of Famers warned repeatedly of using metrics alone as a crutch to prove one's value to an organization and not taking the next step to deliver human insights.

 

 

Johna Burke gets the last word in this vein, on the strength of her term "brothel metrics."

 


Learn more about the four PR News Measurement Hall of Famers who participated in the Sept. 21 Twitter chat:

Andrew Bowins
Andrew Bowins

Andrew Bowins, Executive Director–Corporate Reputation, KPMG LLP (PR News Measurement Hall of Fame, Class of 2014)

Andrew Bowins was inducted into the Measurement Hall of Fame after he created at then-employer MasterCard a research-based foundation upon which the global communications team at the company made its decisions. His PR research was applied to product development, HR and marketing at MasterCard. While there, and in the years since leaving that company, Bowins has become known as a pioneer in putting digital ecosystems at the heart of real-time communications.

Johna Burke
Johna Burke

Johna Burke, SVP, BurrellesLuce (AMEC North America Co-Chair, PR News Measurement Hall of Fame, Class of 2015)

Year after year, Johna Burke eloquently—and with great humor—makes the case at events like PR News' annual Measurement Conference that communicators have to develop the capability to align their work with the business goals of their organizations, and the capability to show that alignment to senior leaders and clients in terms that make sense to them. She has been one of PR’s most effective proselytizers for clear and concise measurement and media monitoring terminology. As she has said, “Measurement builds trust, fosters understanding, promotes prioritization and, not least, minimizes risk in your career as a communicator.”

Elizabeth Rector
Elizabeth Rector

Elizabeth Rector, Head of Communications Intelligence, Cisco Systems; Member, Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission (PR News Measurement Hall of Fame, Class of 2017)

Elizabeth Rector started managing PR measurement for Cisco in 2006, spearheading the development of a proprietary analytics platform. The resulting dashboard won the Best Use of Measurement and Analytics award from the League of American Communications Professionals in 2010. Today, her team’s metrics are used within 20 different business divisions at Cisco, across 15 countries. As part of the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission, Rector helped develop standards involving the use of social media metrics, while advocating for the abolition of outdated measures such as advertising value equivalents.

Mark Weiner
Mark Weiner

Mark Weiner, CEO, PRIME Research; Chairman, IPR Measurement Commission (PR News Measurement Hall of Fame, Class of 2013)

Mark Weiner as been a prime mover behind AMEC's annual Measurement Month and, like Johna Burke and PR News Hall of Measurement Fame member Katie Paine (Class of 2013), has been one of the most vocal and effective evangelists for the evaluation and measurement of business communications. As the CEO of PRIME Research, he has put data and research at the core of all his communications activities for nearly 10 years. He is also a regular contributor to PR News and a member of its advisory board.

If reading the #PRMeasure tweets proves to be just a tantalizing appetizer, come for the main course at PR News' Measurement Boot Camp on Nov. 9 in NYC.