Q&A With IPR Measurement Commission: Top Issues on the Minds of Members

[Editor’s Note: The Institute for Public Relations’ Measurement Commission held its first meeting of 2024 last week. PRNEWS caught up with Commission head Olivia K. Fajardo, M.A., Director of Research at IPR, to identify and discuss the most pressing issues on the minds of the organization’s members.]

PRNEWS: What are the key measurement issues on the minds of the IPR Measurement Commission’s members? Where is the Commission’s key focus this year?

Olivia K. Fajardo, M.A., Director of Research at IPR: The rise of generative AI and its impact on measurement is top-of-mind for the Commission right now. We are exploring how these tools will change what and how we measure. For example, one member has used ChatGPT to code data, group data and track themes in the data. While generative AI won’t replace humans, it can save time. We also have discussed the ethical and legal implications of AI integration in measurement, including ownership of the output based on the data the model was trained on. [Editor's Note: The IPR recently published a study on generative AI usage. Read the key takeaways here.]

Commission members also are seeing seismic shifts in how communicators are reaching and influencing their audiences. Some are seeing increased use of channels like newsletters for news consumption and information sharing, compared to other traditional channels like social media. The industry will need to adapt and adopt proper metrics for new channels that rise to popularity.

PRNEWS: In terms of educating the PR industry, are there any goals you’re aiming to meet?

Fajardo: Our goal is to continue to elevate the importance of measurement and evaluation in public relations and help practitioners stay informed on current trends and best practices. The IPR Measurement Commission has been a go-to for the development and promotion of PR measurement standards for over 25 years (in addition to other industry strongholds like AMEC,) so it is important to us to continue to serve the profession as an authority on this subject.

PRNEWS: Where should PR pros who are new to measurement start to educate themselves? 

Fajardo: The IPR Measurement Commission research library is a fantastic resource for measurement beginners, seasoned veterans and everyone in between. The library is a compilation of research summaries on the measurement “gold standards”, general measurement 101, the latest on metrics for tech and AI, and more.

In 2021, the Commission published a seminal handbook, “The Communicator’s Guide to Research, Analysis, and Evaluation,” to help public relations leaders understand data, research, and analytics.

We also publish Measurement Roundtables from time to time, which give practitioners insight into our conversations with measurement leaders on the most pressing topics.

PRNEWS: What are some of the most popular research topics you’re tackling, from the point of view of your membership? Any new areas of interest within measurement? Anything coming up?

Fajardo: We are seeing increasing interest in tying audience perception to overall business outcomes. For instance, how can we measure the impact of audience values on sales? We plan to gather a group of Commissioners for a roundtable on best practices in this area. Stay tuned!

PRNEWS: What do your members find the most challenging about PR measurement? What roadblocks are they trying to overcome?

Fajardo: The industry is in a time of transformation. This presents an ongoing challenge to identify and communicate the most cutting-edge, effective metrics. Some traditional PR metrics are now outdated since they were modeled at a time when cable TV was king—now, audiences have moved to other channels to consume news and content. As for efficacy, we often discuss the importance of focusing on metrics that drive business results versus what are known as “vanity metrics,” or simple data points that do not signify business impact. Measurement opportunities abound in this time of change, and the IPR Measurement Commission is keeping a pulse on it.