First Person: Pauline Draper-Watts, EVP at Edelman Intelligence

Most PR pros shudder at the thought of doing math, even as effective measurement of PR efforts becomes essential to an industry now drowning in data.

Pauline Draper-Watts

Draper-Watts is an exception. She's currently EVP for Edelman Intelligence, an insights-driven strategic global consultancy that provides research, analysis and media measurement. She has, since her first days in PR, specialized in research. Prior to Edelman, she co-founded a leading media analysis and evaluation company in Europe, established it in the U.S and assisted another strategic communications research company in developing its presence in the US.

Draper-Watts also participates in advancing best practices in measurement within the public relations industry. As past chair of the Institute of Public Relations Measurement Commission, she was one of the original authors of the Barcelona Principles and in 2014 she was inducted into the Public Relations Measurement Hall of Fame.

But she is not all-numbers, all the time. As a people person, Draper-Watts thrives in a dynamic, fast paced environment and loves working with clients and others in the PR community. And she can often be found speaking at PRNEWS and other conferences on measurement topics.

Here is Pauline Draper-Watts, in her own words:

My first job in PR was: building a measurement and research company with two partners in the UK. We grew and sold the business to Millward Brown (now Kantar Millward Brown). I have worked in research, measurement and consulting ever since. Before that I had been in the tech space working with data communications equipment, hence I love using technology in smart ways while engaging with the data to reach meaningful insights which prompt action.

I chose PR because: I did not choose PR, rather it found me. Seeing the challenge in collecting and making sense of media coverage to help clients make informed decisions allowed me to blend my science background with the arts side of my personality. This is going back many years and I have seen many developments in communications and technology advances but the fundamentals have not changed in helping clients make better decisions.

If I weren’t in PR, I’d be: traveling the world (assuming I had the money to do so) or in some form of activism. There are so many challenges that we face from a wide array of social injustice, poverty, inequality, racism, climate change – the list goes on. They are not just in the US. I have had the privilege of being part of many missions teams going to other countries and seeing first hand the challenges that some face in those countries as well.

The last great business book I read was: Culture Map – it has been on my to-read list for some time. Working globally, it has valuable insights into different cultures and is very approachable. Also, it has taught me something about myself.

The best personal advice I’ve ever received was: When opportunities come your way, seize them or know why you are turning them down. If there is bad news, ensure you are the one to tell your boss rather than let him/her hear it from someone else.

The best advice I’ve given is: Learn from your mistakes – we all make them and it is how you handle them in the moment and what you learn from them that counts. While it may be more painful, there is often more growth through failure than through success.

If I could solve one big challenge for communicators, it would be: Introducing meaningful measurement that positions communications as a true partner across the organization. This is not only looking back at what has happened and demonstrating the value of that activity holistically but also informing future strategy and tactics.

The last vacation I took was: China – I love Asia and was thrilled to go back again.

The technology I can’t live without is: My smartphone

The technology I could certainly live without is: some of my old devices that have been superseded by the latest smartphone technology.

My dream three dinner guests would be: These are all dead now but I would love to Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Jesus. They were all pioneers for justice from different continents who have made a global difference. I would love to sit and listen to them talk with each other.

And I’d serve them: We would start with Peanut Butter and Spinach Soup (a favorite for Nelson Mandela). Then we would move on to a choice of a fish dish (as I am sure Jesus would have eaten a lot of fish with several fisherman among his followers) or Coronation Chicken which was a recipe created for Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation and I would feel like I am dining with royalty with these guests. Dessert would have to be Pecan Pie as that was MLK’s favorite and it is very American. However, I know Nelson Mandela is partial to Citrus Pudding so I think I would offer a choice. Throughout the meal we would have fine wine.

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