Public Relations Measurement Goes Mainstream
Rosanna M. Fiske, APR
Chair and CEO, PRSA
Delivered: Sept. 19, 2011, in Philadelphia
North American Summit on Public Relations Measurement
I’m here to tell you that your work did not go unnoticed. Those of us who work in public relations, who make our living in this business, who care deeply about its role and value, particularly to the business community, owe you a sincere debt of gratitude. For without your important work in an area that all too often does not get as much attention as it deserves, the public relations profession would not be realizing the significant and growing value that it has today.
And it’s not just those of us who work in the profession that are taking notice
Case in point:
Over the summer, I was thrilled when The Wall Street Journal
’s “Numbers Guy” devoted his regular WSJ Weekend column
to the subject of public relations measurement. I’m sure many of you read the article
, but I wanted to reflect on a point made by an Australian PR executive that summed up just how far we’ve come, yet the significant work that remains.
Wall Street Journal reporter Carl Bialik relays a story of how longtime Australian publicist Max Markson told a reporter, when asked about the monetary value of a photo he sold of the infamous kissing couple in the Vancouver riots, he told reporters that the image was worth 10 million Australian dollars, a number he apparently “pulled out of thin air because the reporter was on deadline.”
So, it’s good to know we have public relations professionals who are at least offering a value when speaking of their work. But not so good when they just “pull the figure out of thin air,” or use an absurd exaggeration that can’t possibly be corroborated.
Clearly, we still have a ways to go to fully integrate objective measurement standards that aren’t built upon exaggerations or deadline-infused wild guesses.
As PRSA wrote to The Wall Street Journal at the time
, it is through the work of the Barcelona Principles, which laid out a framework for global measurement standards, along with the Lisbon Summit, both of which PRSA was a party to and played a role in advising, that leaves me confident that the public relations profession is well on its way toward developing more stringent global measurement standards that will meet the business community's desires for measurable value regarding its investment in PR services. And at a time when marketers and advertisers are equally concerned
with developing more objective measurement standards, it behooves us to continue to be keenly focused on this vital initiative.
And that’s really what this summit is all about: building a bridge between the significant and prominent work that you and many others have already accomplished in the area of public relations measurement with the realities and challenges that PR professionals around the world face daily. Through the discussions you will have over the next two days, you will help set the agenda for the profession’s focus on, and exploration of, measurement. And that is a vitally important initiative, particularly as client budgets continue to tighten and the world becomes a more data-driven society.
So, on behalf of the Public Relations Society of America, and the entire U.S. public relations profession, I thank you for your important work and the insight you will provide. We simply would not be where we are today, well on our way toward developing a global measurement standard in public relations, if it were not for the discussions and debates that take place at the North American Summit on Public Relations Measurement.
Now, let me introduce today’s opening keynote speaker, Anne Fenice. She is the director of critical metrics analysis systems at Yahoo and a renowned expert on public relations measurement and research. A former media analyst and research at Edelman, Anne now develops research programs and designs strategic reports that drive informed business decisions for multiple Fortune 500 companies.
Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming to the stage Ann Fenice of Yahoo!