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Evaluating the media: A single measure for the media.....really?

PR geekiness - the tools & techniques to gain insights from PR exposure

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A single measure for the media.....really?

Can I be the only one to find it difficult to conceive of the idea of a single measure of PR value? Is it really possible that there is an all-encompassing, universal catch-all for all the nuances of the media's exposure, representing its impact, favourability and message content?

'5.9' on the scoreboard...
Many in PR and research are becoming concerned by the rising trend of providing a single score of media effectiveness. To adopt an analogy from ice skating when the Russian judge holds up the board with 5.9 on it...what does that actually mean?

Measures to match goals.
My biggest problem with a single measure is its inability to treat organisations differently. Every organisations PR strategy is different and hence the metrics applied to understanding media impact must reflect different goals.

The former Chairman of CGI Europe Adrian Wheeler (now with Firefly), said at a CIPR seminar that the nature of the media is 'fuzzy'. It is hard to see how a single measure can adequately capture the meaning of such a medium.

The truth is surely that a multitude of measures needs to be carefully considered. Often the problem is that as PR revolves in a world absent of absolutes, it is easy to grab a hold of some sort of all-encompassing measure as a sum of all achievement.

To continue my earlier analogy, the ice dancer can learn a lot more by going through her performance with the judge in front of a video. In the same way, far better to carefully consider a range of measures tailored specifically to an organisations strategy.

Alan Chumley with Hill and Knowlton, Canada, further developes this idea and illustrates it particularly effectivley through an example on his blog.


Anonymous Michael Bland said...

I'm afraid it's not just the PR trade; the people who run the country, the councils, the schools, the corporations and almost every aspect of our lives believe that you can measure things and put them in boxes - and problem solved. My personal PR mission is to restore respectability to the term ' Luddite'!

9:14 am

Anonymous Alan Chumley said...

Here, here! Single scores are problematic. A little information can be a dangerous thing, as I pointed out in a recent post on Microsoft's approach.


9:52 pm

Blogger michael blowers said...

Thanks you for your comment and also for your wonderful analogy - wonderfully illustrative I think!

7:57 am

Blogger KDPaine said...

In general I've ranted against single scores for the past two decades. But I've modified my position of late because I've found that developing a single "optimal content score" for a specific client, actually helps a client identify what it is they are trying to achieve with their media relations program. Do they want their spokespeople quoted? Do they just want headlines? Do they want to stay out of the media? Once we have those answers we develop a scoring system for all their coverage that provides a quick way for us to show them their KPIs and for them to understand how they are doing against the competition on the key issues. As long as you are totally transparent in how you develop the score and what weightings, if any, you are giving to different elements, there's nothing wrong with a score per se. The problem comes when you try to apply or contrast optimal content scores across businesses or across industries.

11:46 am

Blogger michael blowers said...

Katie, thank you for your comment. I see clearly your point and like you, my issue is with the principle of the application of a single measure across a multitude of clients and circumstances. I do however condone your application of a single measure if its tailor-made to a clients specific requirements. I provide a ‘reputation quotient’ measure to an organisation using a formula integrating tone and topic (weighted on the back of a survey of their own client’s views) following a methodology largely driven by them. When reporting we still find in necessary to contrast the results with some traditional metics. I still think that single measures can be dangerous and should only be 'sold in' to clients if they are 100% clear whats going on.

4:35 pm


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