Siddhartha Mukherjee: PR Measurement & Audit is for the Bravehearted

03 Dec,2015

By Siddhartha Mukherjee

 

When I joined our Industry close to two decades ago, I was made to believe that the PR Agency role is about PR Planning and Execution. PR Measurement, if at all, was by Self or the Agency itself. Also, it started and ended with putting an Advertising Monetary value to it.

 

While I am not very sure where the PR Agency stands on the Brand ‘Planning’ bit, we have done a great job of the PR ‘Execution’ segment. The core point, however, is on the last segment – Self Measurement or Evaluation. Has the importance of evaluation/ ROI measurement and audit grown? Have some of us misinterpreted and exchanged self-evaluation with self-gratification?

 

Parallely, on the client side, with the ROI dagger dangling on the heads of CCO, CMO and other CXOs, becoming heavier and sharper, Clients have started questioning the very rationale of examiner being the same as the student and vice versa.

 

Getting your PR communication initiatives measured regularly and audited by a third party is certainly for the Bravehearted. Why should it be? After all, this exercise requires guts and the ability to hear a spade being called spade. It requires the ability to get evaluated on the basis of this third party data. Not only that, sometimes, even affect your performance bonus payouts. Lastly, it requires the approach of looking at the fee being paid to the Measurement partner as an investment and not a cost.

 

Having said that, its heartwarming to see a surge in such Clients who have started believing that their (monthly) PR Communications efforts ought to get measured and audited not by someone internal, not by their Agency, but by someone external & neutral – who understand the client’s business, its agency and a brand’s communication dynamics within the overall IMC mix. They have proven that they are the bravehearts!

 

I fully acknowledge that adopting or initiating PR Measurement and Audit within an organisation’s communication framework requires a lot of patience, change and sacrifice. It is not at all easy! Also, I am aware that a lot of bravehearts are trying their best to initiate or start that process internally…but taking time.

 

Being a braveheart need not be just about what one has been able to do or implement. It is more of a state of mind. It is more about intent and thought process – what you plan or wish to do.

 

Basis my interactions with a cross-section of individuals across the industry, there can be a permutation or combination of some traits or thought processes that differentiates one as a brave heart. One, who believes in the exhaustive process of organisation’s PR Communication Management process being partnered by a third party, neutral measurement and audit service provider:

 

1. Differentiates Brand Saliency from Chasing News Space: The Client believes that PR is not for Advertising value but for creating and strengthening Brand Acceptance and Tolerance.

 

2. Differentiates & Respects Individual Roles & Functions: The Client believes that roles and expectations cannot be mixed or interchanged. Clients (CEO, CMO & CXOs) should focus on defining the Business & Communication Objectives. PR Agency should strengthen the Communication Objectives and execute the PR ideas. Third Party, Neutral Measurement & Audit service provider should provide the service they are meant to. One should not influence the other beyond the permissible limits.

 

3. All three Custodians work together, not in Isolation: In continuation to the above, Client believes that all the above three custodians should focus and work on their given roles together, Inclusion in other words…not in isolation or Exclusion. It should be a regular, monthly phenomenon.

 

4. Differentiates PR Tracking from Measurement & Audit: The Client can identify the huge and obvious difference between PR (Daily) Tracking/Monitoring Vs PR Measurement & Audit.

 

5. Replaces Advertising Value with Scientific Unit of Measurement: The Client ensures that slowly and eventually, the use of EAVs/AVEs, during the course of discussion with CMOs, HeadsHesjBrand or Business Heads, or with the PR Agencies, ceases to exist.

 

6. Uses Measurement & Audit as a Client-Agency relationship fortification process: The Client sees the role of PR Measurement & Audit partner as someone who will fortify the Client-PR Agency relationship and not that of Roman Agent.

 

7. Encourages and Helps Agency to deep dive into Data: Client encourages its PR Agency to use as much data to research and analyze. Not only that, they use it to Plan and Deliver.

 

8. Uses Measurement to Evaluate Machinery: When PR & Communications function is evaluated on the basis of data provided the neutral PR & Audit service provider.

 

9. Knows he/she can benefit or lose out on Performance Incentives: Acknowledges service as The Client acknowledges that there could be times, when basis the data, his/her Performance incentives may get positively or negatively impacted.

 

10. Only way of doing scientific PR for PR: The Client genuinely believes that this is the only way can do PR for his/her team’s efforts with the non-PR customers internally within the Organisation.

 

Breaking the convention of playing safe, evaluation through a neutral/ third party, letting your department’s appraisal be governed by third party data, changing the rules and expectations from your PR Agency…all these and many more, requires one to be a braveheart. The change is not easy. The good news is that I am seeing more such brave hearts…keeps me going and signals at a faster and sharper Industry growth going forward.

 

Siddhartha Mukherjee is a senior PR industry professional and currently Senior Vice President, Eikona – Earned Media Planning, Audit and Advisory. The views expressed here are his own. 

 

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