2021’s AMEC Global Summit was all about the letter P: Planning, Purpose, and Proof. This year AMEC enters its 25th year of being the international voice of communications measurement and evaluation. And what a year it has been. The summit explored the challenges that have come to the fore for PR professionals in the last year. As ever, the summit didn’t just discuss problems, it hosted a veritable feast of esteemed speakers, who bought with them a whole host of solutions. The words on everyone’s lips? Planning, Purpose, and Proof.
Behind every good PR campaign is a well-thought-out measurement strategy, and a proper plan, with objectives laid out at the start of the process. Why? Because without a proper plan, the focus is on tactics and just doing stuff, which leads down the path of just counting stuff and vanity metrics sneak in. Meaningful measurement needs to begin with asking questions like: why am I doing this? Why does it matter? What is the purpose? What am I trying to achieve? And how will this support my organization? That’s why the organizations who do well at this are those who begin with the end in mind, with a laser focus on the problem they’re trying to solve or the things they’re trying to achieve. That way the strategy, plan, and tactics all link back to the objectives – the things that move the needle for the organization.
And at a time where planning is so important, AMEC (The International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications) has launched its new planning resources. If you’ve already become familiar with the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework, the Measurement Maturity Mapper (both explained here by Richard Bagnall), or any of AMEC’s other tools; you’ll now be able to get stuck in with their new suite of resources – including advice, guidance, and templates for you to use.
Oh, and when you’re thinking about your objectives, always remember to make sure they’re SMART.
Purpose is not just marketing jargon; it’s a philosophy that should be driven throughout an organization, aligning internal and external comms. Increasingly, our audience and our customers are interested in what a brand stands for, and against, not just what it is selling and why you should buy it. That’s where purpose comes in. How do you drive an authentic purpose within your company? You need to understand what matters to your audiences, uncover the messages that resonate, and remain relentlessly authentic. It’s all well and good explaining the ‘why’ of what you do, but only if it is something your audience cares about too.
The ocean of data we have available to us can help create alignment between the truth of our business and the perceptions of our audience. Interpreting that data effectively can create a virtuous circle: effective communication starts with effective policies and research influences both ends. Purposeful business has a human-based truth at the core of its purpose, and we can use data at every step to truly understand what is driving audience perceptions. Communicators are perfectly placed to inform and advise on business decisions by providing meaningful insights into what people care about and how best to communicate your truth to them.
It’s on its way. In their swathes, communicators are saying no to AVEs – because the amount of space some copy takes up on a glossy magazine page simply doesn’t equate to the value delivered to an organization.
To prove the value PR brings, the industry needs to continue to move away from only using output metrics, activity-based numbers like volumes, impressions, shares, likes, tweets etc. These big numbers and vanity metrics used in isolation make it impossible to demonstrate true value to an organization. AVE’s and other more spurious metrics like ‘Return on Engagement’ make little sense to the C-Suite and CFOs who are looking to understand how they can best achieve a return on investment and business success, especially in challenging times.
According to this interview with Francis Ingham, Director General of the PRCA, “The last year has been a real fight for survival, and hard on us all… this has led PR practitioners to put research at the heart of what they do, they’re tracking campaigns, better measuring results and being cognizant of real goals and objectives at all times. And, given the importance of comms, clients and in-house teams are now prepared to pay for proper evaluation – it’s not just a luxury anymore, it’s now a necessity.”
So while some may have been disappointed that #AMECSummit remained virtual in 2021, it’s safe to say it was as insightful as ever. Whether it’s the importance of planning coming to the fore; the conversation around purpose getting louder; or the industry continuing to bang the drum for the need for proof, one thing is clear – PR measurement is alive, kicking, and thriving.