The Queen’s Decree: You Will Use Measurement Standards To Save Time and Money

18 Jul

From the Desk of Katie Paine, Publisher & CEO at Paine Publishing

Item 1: I am three weeks late with a measurement analysis for a certain client because it took seven attempts to get a clean database. I’ve had to rewrite parts of this report half a dozen times. The problem? Bad search strings, lack of good de-duping protocols, and poor filtering.

Item 2: For another project I am doing what all organizations should do when they select a vendor: Compare results. What a mess — I am constantly comparing apples to fish. It’s not impossible to reconcile one vendor’s 4-point scale with another’s 7-point scale, but it adds several extra steps to every chart and report you write.

data2Those two examples are just a taste of a very frustrating month I’ve had dealing with bad data and uncooperative vendors. That’s why this month’s issue focusses on dirty data (read more: “Dirty Data Dooms Measurement: Here Are 5 Tidy-Up Techniques”), and how to make sure you find good vendors (read more: “The 10 Biggest Mistakes When Hiring a Media Monitoring Vendor”). After a 25-year career on the vendor side of measurement, I am now seeing the world through the client’s eyes. I get calls and emails several times a week from clients who are similarly frustrated with the state of measurement services (read more: “5 Real Life Horror Stories of Bad Data”). It’s a very depressing situation.

The good news is that this is exactly the sort of situation that standardization of terms and collection practices can fix. These standards have recently been developed and are now in place and ready to use. In particular, a great deal of data and vendor problems would be avoided if:

(1) More vendors completed the Sources and Methods Transparency Table developed by the #smmstandards. Clients would have more visibility into the process and a better understanding of what they’re getting.

(2) More suppliers followed the Sample Codebook for Media Analysis developed by Eisenmann, O’Neil and Geddes. Consistency in coding definitions would avoid a huge amount of hassle, confusion, and wasted time.

I’ve always been an proponent of standards from a theoretical standpoint, but now that I’m actually in the trenches dealing with the confounding cacophony that is the measurement marketplace, I realize that standards aren’t just a “nice to have,” they are a must have. Why do we make measurement so difficult?

DecreeI love the changes and discussions that the Barcelona Principles have provoked, but I think it’s time for a more radical statement. I offer The Queen’s Decree:

1. Anyone sending out an RFP for measurement services is hereby ordered to use the Standards Compliance Statement for Inclusion in Research RFPs, to insure that vendors understand that they are expected to adhere to standards.

2. Anyone buying measurement services is hereby ordered to use the Sources and Methods Transparency Table and to instruct vendors to use the Sample Codebook for Media Analysis. They should refuse to hire any consultants, agencies, or vendors that have not pledged to support the standards.

3. Anyone selling measurement services should pledge to adhere to the standards and make every effort to be consistent with the Standard Codebook.

4. Anyone advising clients or agencies on measurement selection should refuse to recommend any agency or vendor that hasn’t pledged to support the standards or refuses to comply with them.

Or “Off with their heads!”

Katie Paine, Measurement Queen is visiting New Zealand on 29 September to present a half day PRINZ workshop.

“What matters to management are value and return, and things that make a difference to the bottom line, and no matter how pretty the chart you make, if all you’re showing is how many impressions you got, or how many Twitter followers you accumulated, none of that ties your efforts to the bottom line.”

Visit Katie Paine’s Measurement Blog or her newsletter The Measurement Advisor.

Book a place on the PRINZ course ‘Measure what Matters’, 9am-1pm, Monday 29 September in Auckland. An earlybird registration applies until Friday 29 August.


Event Breakdown: Internal Communications – getting the inside right (WGTN)

2 Jul

Internal Communications: Getting the inside right, was a PRINZ breakfast event held on 26 June in Wellington.

PRINZ Central division held a panel discussion on internal communications featuring Katie Mathison, Group Manager Communications at the New Zealand Customs Service, and Amanda Woodbridge, Associate Partner at Ideas Shop, a full service PR company. The event was well-attended, with 26 attendees in all.

Katie Mathison manages Customs reputation externally and internally across all communications channels. She talked about the challenges faced by the Customs communications team in turning Customs 35-page ‘Towards Customs 2020’ strategy into something exciting, engaging, and meaningful for every member of staff.

The idea was to get everyone’s input, so the communications team decided to chunk down the strategy and represent it visually as a ‘Big Picture’, using imagery to convey the 11 challenges of the organisation’s overall strategy in a meaningful way to staff.

The process took longer than thought because it was important to get input from the senior leadership team, the change programme team, managers, team leaders, and frontline staff.Team leaders held visual sessions with most of the 1200 staff, the concept was displayed in all common areas, and feedback was gathered via the intranet.

There were 18 versions of the ‘Big Picture’ over six weeks. A final time-lapse video of the visual being drawn, with the CE’s voiceover, served to bring the visual to life for staff.

The visual was printed on a large colour canvas at each site and each manager did a site-specific unveiling. It was also released as a Customs screensaver and all staff received a printed copy.

The project was a success and smaller sections of it are used in other communications to link back to the ‘Big Picture’ as a constant reminder. The project was not without its hurdles though, the main ones being time taken from beginning to end, and the difficulty of trying to please everyone.

Amanda Woodbridge, an Associate Partner at Ideas Shop talked about her work supporting a client to share its business strategy with its people. After initial conversations, it became apparent internal communication was ad hoc, inconsistent and unplanned, with a strong reliance on managers making their own decisions about what information to share with their team and when. Before launching the strategy, the organisation needed to rejuvenate how it communicated with its people – otherwise it would be launched into a vacuum, with a real risk that staff wouldn’t have a common understanding of the priorities and changes required.

The first step for Ideas Shop was completing an internal communication audit to understand what was working well and what needed to change to support the sharing of strategic and operational information across the business. Ideas Shop found that while people were engaged, they wanted to see more of the Senior Leadership Team, know more about the organisation and have more timely and up-to-date news. From that, Ideas Shop worked closely with its HR manager and senior leaders to redevelop existing channels and launch new ones, including a team cascade.

With the infrastructure in place to support good communication, Ideas Shop is now advising the leadership team to share its strategy with a leaders’ day planned for later this month.

Getting the business strategy right first and foremost is key according to Amanda – it’s the bones from which a good communication strategy can hang.

All in all, an interesting and insightful session on the importance of ‘getting the inside right’ with the highlight of both talks being the need to work closely with leadership teams and front-line staff to ensure strategic messages are adequately understood and brought to life for staff.

The next two event on in Wellington are:

10 July – Communicating Chinese Style – Register here 

5 August – CEO Panel – Communicating ‘Brand Wellington’ – Register here 


Volunteering – a way to ‘give back’ that provides opportunities

19 Jun

Alexander Danne, PRINZ Intern.

When I was 15-years-old I applied for a high school exchange programme, which ultimately changed the course of my life. I was invited to a panel interview and I was very nervous about the whole process. The interview started and the five panellists introduced themselves. They all had very different careers and ambitions, but they all had one thing in common: they all volunteered for YFU (Youth for Understanding – an exchange organisation) and said that they had been exchange students and that they wanted to give something back to the organisation as well as to society and that is why they became volunteers. When I returned from my own exchange I stayed with the organisation and volunteered for it as well. Now, a good ten years later, I am still with YFU and I still like the work – I still like to ‘give back’.

Alexander at PRConf14 with Deborah Rolland, Senior Lecturer, Unitec.

Alexander at PRConf14 with Deborah Rolland, Senior Lecturer, Unitec.

Volunteering is a great opportunity to contribute to society, and also a way to step up, earn responsibility and prove yourself to you and others. Some of my time I volunteer for PRINZ and that provided me with the opportunity to stand out to the PRINZ team. Eventually our professional relationship developed and now I am a member of the PRINZ office, which I am grateful for and proud of. I found my way to a professional career though volunteering and in my opinion that is a good start, because I chose the organisation I volunteer for based on a great interest. Through my studies I get the impression that a number of young professionals struggle to find their careers and therefore I can encourage everyone to step up and become a volunteer in order to find an area of interest. Maybe you can contribute to society at the same time and maybe you can find your career path and engage in it – I can recommend you try.

I personally like volunteering, because it provides you with the opportunity to ‘give something back’ to society and at the same time you can contribute to a better society. Further, volunteering holds a lot of opportunities and for a graduate student like me it is a perfect chance to engage in the professional environment. Go for it!

Volunteering with PRINZ – There are many ways in which members give their time and expertise to support PRINZ. If you would like to volunteer we would love to hear from you. We invite you to complete the online form to let us know the areas you are interested in.

In celebration of volunteers – #PR gives back

16 Jun
Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te tangata
With your contribution and my contribution the people will live

Simone Bell, PRINZ CEO

It’s National Volunteer Week (NVW) and on behalf of PRINZ; thank you! My PRINZ-take on the NVW theme is; Our combined effort, skills and knowledge have brought us here.

I truly believe that #PR gives back.

In fact, it gives back to the tune of $2,213,140 in the 2013 financial year. The PRINZ Trends Survey*, undertaken by independent research partner Perceptive Research found that PR consultants, sole traders and consultancies contributed more than 2 million dollars in pro-bono work last year. You can view a breakdown of this statistics here.

We all volunteer in different ways; and social good, pro-bono work is one of those.

Volunteers for PRINZ act in the following roles:

  • National Council members – elected and co-opted
  • Division committee members
  • Local Learning Lunch hosts and facilitators
  • Mentors
  • Presenters
  • Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management representation
  • APR coordinator / mentor / Viva Voce interviewer
  • Bloggers
  • Conference working groups
  • Students at Conference
  • Committees – Research, Ethics
  • Fellows Executive members
  • Award judges

That numbers more than 200 people, all at various stages of the profession and practice. The Office relies on volunteers in these roles to deliver robust, peer reviewed and relevant programmes to our growing membership.

The network that forms around this is invaluable.

If you watch the interviews we undertook with PRINZ members from around New Zealand earlier this year, you will be able to see some important themes – those who volunteer get back as much as they put in.

In particular, the recognition of mentoring being a way for senior practitioners to be energised through their investment in younger members and the value in the network PRINZ provides – which as a volunteer is an even more accessible network – based on your shared involvement in a project or group.

We have put a figure on the pro-bono work the industry does. Imagine if we put a dollar value on the work of volunteers for PRINZ. Your support is immeasurable, it is what has built the organisation as we know it today, and what will continue to advance it in the years ahead.

If you’d like to join the #PR gives back movement and volunteer for PRINZ in a specific way, please complete this short member volunteer survey.

*515 respondents, April 2014, Perceptive Research:

The number 1 reason why PR gets no respect – stupid metrics

13 Jun

Katie Paine, Measurement Queen is visiting New Zealand on 29 September to present a half day PRINZ workshop.

“What matters to management are value and return, and things that make a difference to the bottom line, and no matter how pretty the chart you make, if all you’re showing is how many impressions you got, or how many Twitter followers you accumulated, none of that ties your efforts to the bottom line.”

Visit Katie Paine’s Measurement Blog or her newsletter The Measurement Advisor.

Book a place on the PRINZ course ‘Measure what Matters’, 9am-1pm, Monday 29 September in Auckland. An earlybird registration applies until Friday 29 August.


Katie PaineI frequently get asked why PR people should care about measurement. The short answer is that you have no credibility without it.  To most people, PR is that somewhat shady process of getting the media to pay attention to whatever it is you’re trying to push on them, while distracting them from the bad stuff your organization is probably doing. Then there’s PRSA’s lofty definition: Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” The reason for this perception gap is decades of stupid metrics and bad measurement.

For years, PR people have focused on activities not outcomes. They measured value in terms of column inches and the height of a stack of press releases (or the famous “Thud” factor as in the decibel level of the sound of that year’s clip book when it lands on the boss’ desk.)  In today’s terms, that’s the equivalent of how many likes you got on a Facebook post. The result of these over inflated stupid metrics is that PR has come to be defined by what it shovels out, rather than the relationships that it builds.

It’s time to clean out the cobwebs and start fresh.

Let’s start with that concept of relationship building. In today’s environment, the need for good relationships with your publics is stronger than ever. The last decade has given PR the ability to directly talk to and build relationships with all your stakeholders, not just the media.  Those relationships today are more likely to get established via a conversation on Twitter, a connection on LinkedIn, or a video on YouTube, as they are through anything in the media.

Those good relationships bring value to your organization by lowering your costs of doing business – the local community stops bringing lawyers to every meeting, your neighbors raise fewer objections to your expansion plans, your sales force spends less time explaining your company to customers, and has a better ability to listen to the needs of the marketplace so your sales cycle gets shorter. Your turnover rates go down and you spend less on recruitment.

Fostering good relationships makes sense, doesn’t it?  Then why not measure relationships instead of the nearly universally discredited metric of Ad Value Equivalency? (AVE.) AVE puts a “value” on a story based on its length and what it would cost to buy that space.

The standard reason for using AVE is something like “clients demand it,” or “it’s easy for clients to digest”.  To which the smart alek in me invariably responded, “If clients demanded Heroin would you provide that as well?”  French fries and hot dogs are easy to digest but that doesn’t mean we should rely on them for nourishment.  And like any diet of Heroin and french fries, the consequences are pretty unpleasant.

One of the realities of life is that you become whatever you value and measure. And PR has been gorging itself on AVE for so long, it has had a single minded focus on making that stack of clips higher. So is it any wonder that in the minds of senior leadership that’s all PR is about?  And isn’t that why PR budgets are always the first to be cut, why senior management never has time to meet with you? Why leadership puts PR on the bottom of the meeting agenda, likely to be put off to another day.

It’s because AVE is not what’s valuable to senior management. What matters to management are value and return, and things that make a difference to the bottom line, and no matter how pretty the chart you make, if all you’re showing is how many impressions you got, or how many Twitter followers you accumulated, none of that ties your efforts to the bottom line.

Ahh you say, but AVE does show value – the value of space you didn’t have to buy with your advertising budget.  But how many of those media outlets that your clips appeared in actually influence your stakeholders or target audience. And even if all of them appeared in major media outlets, take all those clips to the CMO and ask him or her how many they would have been willing to pay for? You’ll be lucky if 10% make the cut. The rest probably lack messages, desirable visuals, recommendations, brand benefits or anything else that might make a prospect want to buy your products.

The reality is that there is no evidence anywhere that an article in the back of a newspaper or magazine has the same impact as a paid ad in that same publication.  And there is even less evidence that an online story has the same impact as online advertising.

Yes but, comes the next argument…  there is value to impressions, isn’t there?  Perhaps, but that’s where you need good metrics.  Getting the word out there may or may not help your business. I can generate a ton of impressions at relatively low cost by tattooing your logo on a naked female butt and have her run naked through the streets of Dubai for a day… but will that sell product? You have no way of knowing unless you actually measure the results.  Lulu lemon generated a ton of publicity in 2013, but at the end of the day, its stock price fell, it pissed off its customers and the CEO stepped down.

There was no shortage of publicity for BP and the Gulf Coast as a result of the oil spill, but the outcome as measured by stock price, tourism revenue, or the shellfish market would hardly be called successful.

In 2012 Komen for the Cure was among the most talked about charities in the country, but when its battle with Planned Parenthood was over, Komen had lost millions in funding and participation in its races was down 20%.

Still think impressions alone are enough? The reality is that in any communications effort you need more than simple exposure and column inches. You need to know what impact your efforts are having on the business and what management expects that impact to be. But take heart, you’re only six simple steps away from good measurement, and in the next six segments we’ll explain each one….


Internal Communication – like a roll in the hay?

12 Jun

By Elizabeth Hughes,

I just read an excellent article by Vincent Heeringa in the May/June edition of Idealog. He is writing about ‘innovation’. And I quote:

“Talking about innovation is the same as talking about sex: the people talking about it ain’t the ones doing it.” The same is true for ‘internal communication’.

Everyone talks about it (and lots of people think they are expert at it) but very few people – particularly those who should be – are actually ‘doing it’. Vincent goes on to say [as in sex] “hot crazy, repeatable hay-rolls are the result of a happy relationship, not of a hay-roll strategy.” This is also true for internal communication – even though, unlike innovation, it is constant.

Internal CommsInternal communication happens all the time (think the water cooler for ‘swapping stories’, the intranet for ‘boring stuff’ and email – best used for back stabbing) and yet everyone complains it is not being done enough – or the right way – or pointing the finger at the communication team (you) for failing to deliver better internal communication.

One of the most common questions I get is along the lines of…. “I’ve just been appointed the Internal Communication person [insert position here] and my boss wants me to come up with an internal communication strategy/plan that will improve staff satisfaction.  Where should I start?”

Well, as Vincent says, it starts with a happy relationship, not a ‘hay-roll strategy’.

So you start by looking at the boss. If the boss of your organisation is a leader who truly values their people, and understands and demonstrates that worthwhile, effective and authentic communication is modelled from the top, then you have a head start. If they are a ‘less capable’ leader then maybe you need to consider having a conversation with them about the ‘hay-roll strategy’ and what they see their role being in delivering it.

Internal Comms2You also need to consider how all staff can take action and responsibility for ‘successful internal communication’. How can they be part of this ‘happy relationship’? Your job, as the communication professional being tasked with the job of writing the strategy/plan, will firstly be to ensure your boss and staff understand that just putting in place a few new processes or products to deliver ‘internal communication’ will not trump individual responsibility.

An internal communication strategy will only under-pin and/or exaggerate what already exists – it doesn’t, on its own, create or make successful internal communication (the ‘hot, crazy repeatable….’) happen.

These three areas and more will be central to the PRINZ course ‘Successful Internal Communication’ presented by Elizabeth on Tuesday, 1 July. Limited spaces remaining – book now.

More about Elizabeth Hughes

Elizabeth Hughes has worked in public and private sector communication for 25 years. Her career covers a number of small to large councils, Local Government New Zealand, government departments and work for NZ Police, Civil Defence, Ministry for the Environment, Department of Building and Housing, Children’s Commission, Elections NZ and Department of Internal Affairs.

Drawing on experience working with staff from both small and large organisations she is best known for innovation and communication achievements in the local government and public sectors. Elizabeth has a degree in environmental management and post-graduate qualifications from the Melbourne Business School in communication and managing business relationships.

PRConf14 guest blog 4 – Democracy in context

11 Jun

Jocelyn Williams, Head of Department, Faculty of Creative Industries and Business, Department of Communication Studies at Unitec, and speaker sponsor for John Parkinson’s visit to NZ.

As part of his trip to speak at the PRINZ conference, Professor John Parkinson spent time with students and staff at Unitec on Wednesday 28 May. In a lunchtime lecture, John challenged around fifty students and staff from Communication Studies, as well as Social Practice and other disciplines, to think about how democracy is constructed in different contexts.

Jocelyn Williams with Unitec staff, Unitec PRConf14 student volunteers and Simone Bell

Jocelyn Williams with Unitec staff, Unitec PRConf14 student volunteers and Simone Bell, CEO of PRINZ.

He argued democracy requires public spaces where people can gather to debate and protest – and yet the redesign of cities suggests these sorts of spaces are being deliberately constrained. Public spaces are designed for shoppers and consumers, but not for those who wish to express active citizenship.  Instead they need to invent their own spaces, such as online, to mobilise dissent.

On the other hand, “consultation” processes appear to be flourishing, but are empty exercises if people are not invited to set the agenda in the first place.  Both here and in his keynote at the conference the next morning, John was challenging PR to facilitate true public advocacy, and help the excluded to be heard.

John Parkinson presenting at #PRCONF14

John Parkinson presenting at #PRConf14

This was stirring stuff for the mostly Communication Studies audience, a mixture of postgraduate and undergraduate students and a sprinkling of staff. From our perspective it was a breath of fresh air to have a speaker equipped with both extensive PR experience and a bigger picture academic point of view put some provocations to us.  John paid attention to big concepts in public opinion that were so useful for budding practitioners, enabling them to anchor the detail of their learning, reflecting on cases and examples from their courses and internships.  With final assignments and the end of semester looming, this was a timely invitation to students to consider central questions of ethics and the responsibilities of the PR profession in a democratic society.  There was plenty for us to think about beneath John’s easygoing presentation style.


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