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A deep dive into PR measurement and evaluation with global expert, Jim Macnamara

Why Measurement & Evaluation (and Learning) is critical to your success

Measurement, Evaluation and Learning is how we should be reframing the discussion around metrics in public communication according Jim Macnamara, in a special Measurement Month episode of PR podcast Smoke Signal.

Measurement and Evaluation in the New Normal – Jim Macnamara

Jim Macnamara is a Distinguished Professor of Public Communication in the School of Communication at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). He is internationally recognised for his research into evaluation of public communication and for his work on organisational listening.
We begin this discussion with a look at Jim’s latest book – released in July this year – Beyond Post-Communication: Challenging Disinformation, Deception, and Manipulation.

The book challenges the notion that fake news and the rise of distrust on all levels is a result of a “few bad apples” such as Trump, Russian trolls or the power of social media platforms. Rather Jim presents a compelling argument, citing numerous examples in our discussion, to show that in fact professional communicators – PR professionals, government advisers, advertisers and journalists –are as much, if not more, to blame for widespread dissemination of disinformation.

However, the book is not about finger pointing but rather how we move forward as a profession – Jim shares some of his strategies for improving the practice of professional communication.

It is in this context we discuss, Measurement and Evaluation. If we’ve moved into a post communication, post trust world, how does measurement and evaluation need to evolve.

And for Jim, the oft-repeated reasons for not doing rigorous evaluation – lack of budget, lack of time – are simply excuses. To move from being a cost-centre to a value-add centre, we need to show outcomes and business impact. It is also, according to Jim, the key for PR professionals to progress their careers and truly get a “seat at the table”.

It is also why Jim talks more today about M, E & L. Measurement and evaluation is often looking in the review mirror, a process of looking back to justify. Rather, Jim says the emphasis should be more on the learnings – both how can we use these measures to assess how can we improve our programs and campaigns moving forward; and also applying learnings to ourselves and how can we can continually improve measurement and evaluation.

In this discussion, Jim uses two current case studies as examples of how measurement can showcase tangible business outcomes – a review he is leading for the World Health Organisation on its evaluation of communication programs globally and a project he oversaw for global financial services firm Achmea.

While these are large scale projects, Jim recommends practitioners start small, show a result, prove your value and then go back and say we can do more. And once the business sees tangible results they naturally become even more committed to PR and communications.

Jim’s final word of advice for practitioners when it comes to measurement and evaluation: Practitioners need to know research methods from Google Analytics and social media analytics through to surveys. You need to be evidence based – that is what is required by management. Too often in our field we rely on feeling and intuition.

The PRIA Education Community Committee is driving a series of initiatives to mark AMEC’s Measurement Month throughout November. Be sure to visit www.pria.com.au or www.educompria.wordpress.com to see a full list of events.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 6 – A chat with the new PRIA National President

In this episode I speak to newly appointed National President of the Public Relations Institute of Australia – Sylvia Bell.

Listen here or subscribe via iTunes

“It is a really important industry in that it gives voice to people, issues and programs that otherwise wouldn’t happen”

Sylvia, who originally studied science, has for the past two decades worked in both in-house and consulting roles across the education, health and sciences sector.

As a former member on the NSW PRIA Council, a fellow of PRIA and Chief Judge of the Golden Target Awards for the past two years, Sylvia brings a deep knowledge and passion for the industry.

Sylvia has a clear mission in her role as PRIA President;  to advocate for the profession and be an authentic voice for the trends emerging in communications not only among the direct membership but the broader corporate community.

In this podcast, Sylvia also discusses:

  • Her commitment to continuing to build a PRIA community of practice, providing education and networking opportunities for practitioners at all levels.
  • The importance of measurement and evaluation, citing the recently launched PRIA Measurement and Evaluation Framework to really measure the impact of your programs
  • The PRIA Professional Development Framework and how this could form the basis of a more formal designation in the future.
  • The value of Awards such as the Golden Target Awards in breeding an increase in quality across the profession.

In the news this week I recap the Cannes Lions Awards and discuss some of my favourite campaigns.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 4 – Continuing Education

At its core, public relations is a set of vocational skills that can best be learnt by doing, that is the view of Sarah Mason who shares with us the mission of HSPR in helping improve the professional standards of the PR industry.

Listen below or subscribe on iTunes

HSPR is the only Registered Training Organisation dedicated to the PR sector and helps deliver professional development to emerging practitioners, career progressors, senior executives and career changes who may be coming to PR for the first time later in life.

Sarah has a clear passion for the professionalisation of the PR sector which she believes will  help attract a more diverse workforce, new ideas, new thinking, new perspectives and help keep good practitioners in the industry longer by supporting them to do great work.

In this discussion we touch on:

What makes a good grad: It is all about attitude and a willingness to keep learning

How to teach ethics: It’s common sense – do as you would be done by and be true to yourself

Skills that as an industry that we need to get better at: Creative thinking is our industry’s currency. Creativity is really the only thing that can differentiate us

Diversity: We need to step out of our echo chamber and build a deeper understanding of our audience we are speaking to

Digital and social: Our skillset remains the same just broadening opportunity to engage directly with stakeholders

You can find our more about HSPR and its courses here and follow Sarah Mason on LinkedIn

And do you believe PR is a Bullshit Job?

In the news this episode I look at a new book by David Graeber, an anthropology professor at the London School of Economics, who says over half of all jobs today – including PR – are BS jobs.

 

 

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 2: The Creativity Coach

In this episode Andy Eklund, a.k.a. the Creativity Coach, takes us into the wonderful world of creativity.

Listen now or subscribe on iTunes

According to Andy, who defines business creativity as the act of combining two different ideas in an unusual way to create something unique, useful or new, creativity is one of the most important life skills that everyone should learn. He believes it should also be taught in schools!

Creativity seems and ever more important skill for PR practitioners where creativity is becoming more and more vital as brands look to differentiate themselves and cut through the clutter.

Andy currently runs his own creativity coaching business, having held both in house and agency roles, including Global Creative Director for Burson Marsteller in the 1990’s where he was involved in 4-6 brainstorms a day.

According to Andy brainstorming gets a bad wrap. In reality brainstorming is simply the act of your brain coming up with an idea – whether that’s in a formal team setting or a chat in the hallway.

Some of his tips on brainstorms that he discusses in this podcast are:

  • You need ice breakers to help participants become creative
  • Understand 90/10 rule – it’ll take at least 10 ideas to get one good one
  • To brainstorm in the absence of the audience is a complete waste of time

We also discuss the fact that while creativity is a right side of the brain, it also requires discipline and consistency that is left brain thinking. And relax, creativity can be taught, you just have to really want to learn.

In the news this week we look at what feels like the only story going around – the Facebook Cambridge Analytica controversy. The story has continued to roll on since I wrote this blog and it shows no sign of since Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of Congress to admit guilt and apologise.

There is no doubt a lot more to come on this story but restoring trust will be a key challenge now for Facebook.

If you enjoy this podcast then do be sure to check out Andy’s blog www.andyeklund.com where you can get a lot more tips on creativity.

 

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 1 – The Global State of PR

In episode 1 of Smoke Signal we speak with Editor-in-Chief and CEO of the Holmes Report, Arun Sudhaman.

Listen here or subscribe on iTunes

“Bell Pottinger is probably the biggest story that I will cover in my career,” reveals Arun in episode one of Smoke Signal.

The demise of the venerable Bell Pottinger brand was not only the biggest story in the last 12 months but of his whole career, a big call for a journalist who has been covering the PR sector for over a decade.

As well as giving an inside view into the collapse of Bell Pottinger, Arun shares his views on some of the key themes that he’s seeing as major influences impacting the practice of PR globally – the emergence of purpose as a key driver for brands; the increased role of data and analytics in creating and measuring campaigns; and the impact technology now plays in everything we do in PR today.

While the quality of PR campaigns across the globe has never been higher, as seen in awards winners being given globally, Arun believes there still a breadth of work that is “relatively average” that continues to plague the industry.

The cricket loving Arun (he hosts a podcast on this too), also shares his views on the increased presence of creativity; the role of awards in the PR sector; and the rise and rise of crisis management as an important facet in the PR toolkit.

In this episode we also take a look ‘inside the news’ at one of the more bizarre stories of recent times with ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, telling a group of communications professionals that he  “hates journalists and is over mainstream media”.

Enjoy episode one of Smoke Signal.

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