A little more than one month ago, 100 research-minded communicators assembled in New York City for the PRNEWS Measurement Summit. PRNEWS initiated this event more than 10 years ago, at a time when PR measurement was 'new' (or, at least, new-er): Pre-social media. Pre-CommTech. Pre-Covid. Pre-Zoom.
While the PRNEWS conference was among the first events to focus exclusively on the important topic of data-informed communication, it is not the only resource. In addition to this column, which is only one of many essays PRNEWS devotes to PR analytics and advisory themes, additional options exist for those readers eager to learn more.
Live events are back. Simultaneously, interest in how research and analytics inform PR decisions has never been greater. In addition to the PRNEWS Measurement Conference, a variety of conferences compete for research-minded communicators’ attention. Luckily, they're spaced throughout the year. Here is a sampling:
- On an almost monthly basis, the Institute for Public Relations produces measurement-related conferences for educators and practitioners. The Institute devotes itself to “the science beneath the art of public relations,” which is to say, communications research.
- In addition to the Institute’s free webinars, it holds two premium in-person annual events: the Distinguished Lecture and Symposium (Dec. 1 in New York) and the Bridge Conference, in Washington, D.C.. The Bridge reflects the connection between the practice and the academy, reflected in its speakers and attendees.
- Measurement maven and PRNEWS columnist Katie Paine produces several measurement conferences every year. The next, Measurement Base Camp, is slated for December. This virtual event focuses on the fundamentals of communication research best practices, including defining measurable goals and objectives, survey design and ensuring data is clean, accurate and relevant. A recognized thought leader, Katie was awarded the 2019 Jack Felton Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute for Public Relations. Her experience is unmatched.
- The International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) is the world’s largest professional body devoted to media intelligence, communication research and insights. Perhaps best known for Measurement Month, held every November to coincide with the AMEC Awards, the organization offers an array of communication research and measurement learning opportunities through its Global Education Program. What’s more, the organization produces an annual AMEC Summit, which will be in Miami, in 2023.
- PWorld produces an annual PR Measurement Boot Camp at which the measurati present information for beginners and experienced communicators. The sixth camp is set for Montreal, in March 2023.
- The International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) meets annually in Orlando, Fla.. A nonprofit dedicated to supporting socially beneficial PR research, its conference format has authors presenting white papers in 15-minute sprints for three days. Attendees rotate between tables, giving them the opportunity to hear every white paper.
Newsletters, Blogs, Essays and White Papers: In addition to PRNEWS, which regularly features PR research and evaluation tips, tactics and opinion pieces in this publication and on its public site, two organizations mentioned earlier offer digital newsletters.
The Institute for Public Relations Research has a free weekly: IPR Research Letter. Delivered Wednesdays, each edition provides academic and applied research in PR, corporate communication and more. You need to register to receive it.
In addition, the organization sponsors centers of excellence, including The Measurement Commission. You can opt to receive announcements for events, white papers and other materials. What’s more, the Institute offers its entire six-year digital archive of newsletters, papers, essays and more…for free.
AMEC provides easy access to its library of white papers, instructional materials and more. AMEC is well known for staking a position on PR measurement standards. Its seminal paper was the Barcelona Principles (recently updated). The group continues to provide a framework for research-minded communicators. Recent examples include The Integrated Evaluation Framework and The Measurement Maturity Mapper.
For lovers of the printed word, digital or hard copy, there are books about communication research and evaluation for beginners to experienced professionals. The following are among Amazon’s best sellers.
- A Professional and Practitioner’s Guide to Public Relations Research, Measurement and Evaluation (third Edition), written by seasoned communications research professionals David Michaelson, PhD and Don Stacks, PhD, two of the foremost proponents for data informed public relations. The promises to guide the reader through the effective use of methods, measures, and evaluation in providing grounded evidence of the success (or failure) of public relations campaigns.
- Public Relations Technology, Data and Insights: Igniting a Positive Return on Your Communications Investment, by the author of this essay—me—Mark Weiner, uses case studies from industries as varied as financial services, technology, travel, automotive and more, along with best practice examples from Adobe, Mastercard, Southwest, Ford and other world class organizations. The book shows professional communicators how to optimize technology, lead with data, quantify PR's ability to convert public relations outputs to business outcomes, and deliver insights that empower executive decision-making. The book was named by bookauthority.org as one of the 40 most important PR books in history.
A simple Google search on “PR Measurement and Evaluation” yields hundreds of sources, including some mentioned here.
For those interested in honing their communication research skills, there is no shortage of materials (and many are free).
Mark Weiner is the Chief Insights Officer of PublicRelay