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The time is now for the PR industry to prove its effectiveness

Two days of an incredible PR and communications summit concluded yesterday. I believe it marked a seismic shift in Public Relations and communications practice. The annual AMEC Global Summit on Measurement and Evaluation of communications is now in its 11th year. The trade association itself in its 23rd year. AMEC has been beating the drum for education and best practice in research, measurement, and evaluation of communications for a long time. This was the year that the communications sector woke up and realised it needs to take this stuff seriously. This was the year that the PR industry really 'leaned in'.

An event that was supposed to happen in the beautiful city of Vienna instead found itself scrambling as a result of the global pandemic to go virtual instead. While it was sad not to be able to meet in person, the new circumstances worked out to be a great success. Two days of fabulous content, sharing and networking between 350 global delegates, timed to incorporate multiple time zones, was all made possible by Intrado’s generous sponsorship and provision of their interactive conferencing platform. Thank you to them, all of our sponsors and especially the phenomenal AMEC executive team.

The need for the Comms and PR sector to up its game in the understanding and adoption of #measurement and #evaluation has never been greater than today. With budget cuts and a relentless focus on costs at organisations across the world, now more than ever, PR and comms professionals need to be able to prove their value like never before. Part of this of course involves operating nimbly and iteratively as we all understand the new normal in which we are operating. The way to do this is to plan, research and evaluate regularly, consistently and in a meaningful manner. With PRCA director general Francis Ingham predicting job cuts to the PR sector of up to 10,000 people in the latest podcast, time is running out to embrace credible and meaningful measurement and evaluation.

It is no longer acceptable to say that you work in #PR and you’re not a numbers person. It’s no longer OK not to engage with data and expect someone else to do this for you. It's not OK to work in PR and focus only on tactics and activity with scarce thought to a credible plan that sets out clearly what organisational objectives you intend to accomplish. It's not acceptable if you don't have established benchmarks, KPIs and targets for success clearly identified. It's not OK only to pay cursory glances at automated dashboards of meaningless metrics that don't speak to the language of your organisation and somehow hope that this will count as a meaningful description of your achievements. It's not acceptable if you are not spending the time and effort required to think about this stuff and work out how to tell your measurement story effectively. It's very unlikely that the answer is an automated dashboard from the cheapest SAAS vendor...

The great news is that AMEC is here to help. For years we have spent over 60% of our budget providing free educational resources to help the PR and comms sector up its measurement game. The Barcelona Principlesrelaunching today in their 3.0 iteration (with a free webinar), the integrated evaluation framework (IEF), and the Measurement maturity Mapper all being cases in point. Our community of global practitioners, consultants, academics, PR agencies and in-house directors of communications have always been generous to share their knowledge, experience and expertise. Never more so than at this year's AMEC summit.

Here's the really good news. If you missed the event, you don't have to have missed the learnings. Each session has been recorded and is available to watch, on demand, at a pace and timing of your choosing. In addition, there are three further months of extra bonus content coming between now and September. Our speakers include some of the world's top experts who all generously share the steps needed to up your evaluation game and really understand and embrace this stuff. Their content is quite simply unmissable.

One of the benefits of a virtual event is that the cost to attend in terms of time and finance is significantly lower than traditional IRL conferences. No travel, no hotels, no jet lag, and it's all available on demand in your timezone.

As we sit here today part way through this dreadful global pandemic, now is the time to invest in your future. now is the time to ensure that your skills don't become obsolete or irrelevant. I strongly urge you to sign up to attend the summit, watch the pre-recorded sessions from the last two days and partake in the events still to come. You will not regret it.

Richard Bagnall, Co-managing partner, CARMA International & Chair of AMEC.

This article first appeared on CARMA's blog, The Measurement Standard.