Siddhartha Mukherjee: Are we Measuring or Monitoring PR?

21 May,2020

By Siddhartha Mukherjee


During my last two decades in this industry, I have come across several seminars, papers, debates and endless discussions on how to measure PR? However, when I study the conclusion, I notice that they have no correlation with Communication Measurement. All that the discussion did was circle around PR Monitoring.


Interestingly, India is not the sole market trapped in this illusion. It has been a global phenomenon…a pandemic of sorts, if I may say so. Corporate clients, PR firms and PR analytics service providers have been unable to distinguish between PR Monitoring and Measurement.


Having spent a decent share of time across PR Firms, Corporate Communications and PR Analytics Service, my estimate is that barely 5% of industry (corporate clients) are doing some bit of measurement and successfully so. Add another 5% who have recently started exploring this corridor.


Around 90-95% of our industry has been consuming PR monitoring and confusing that with measurement. No one has drawn the line and shown the differentiation.


PR Monitoring is all about What Happened or What is Happening. Whereas measurement is all about Outcome. Outcome, in turn, is about the benefit the Communication Initiative – CorpComm or MarComm – brought to the Brand Health and Business Health.


I must admit that PR monitoring has its own importance. It helps to keep a watch at a daily, weekly and monthly level. The good thing about PR monitoring today is that the industry, more so the service providers, have been able to deepen the offerings across quantitative and qualitative parameters. All these are helping PR firms and end eorporate clients in a major way.


However, the age-old, archaic and uninformed discussion on Measurement needs to stop rightaway. People should be able to own up, identify and demarcate the boundary walls between the monitoring and measurement.


To give industry professionals a sneak peak of what monitoring is, here is glossary of terms that PR firm and corporate firms use which actually connote monitoring (and not measurement): Count of clips/mentions, share of voice, sentiment/tonality, analysis by geographic zones, publication and journalist details, key message analysis, spokesperson details, etc. And yes, AVE or EAV (advertising value) has been at the helm when it came to faultily defining measurement success.


For more than a decade, I have been claiming that AVE should be weeded out from its roots as it is the biggest cancer for our Industry.


On the other hand, the glossary of some terms that indicate that mthe discussion is within the territory of measurement are: Input-Output-Outcome, Exposure-Engagement-Conversion, Target Setting, Targeted Vs Achieved, Brand Scores, Primary & Secondary data, so on and so forth.


PR Monitoring is essential but it is not measurement. It is a subset of measurement. Having said this, implementing Measurement is not easy. It has many logistical challenges.


I shall discuss that in a separate space.


For now, someone, the industry bodies and/or PR firms should take the onus of creating a differentiation between PR monitoring and easurement. Once done, it will fast-track the industry growth in terms of monies, talent pool, infrastructure and acknowledgement outside our industry.


Siddhartha Mukherjee is a senior marketing services research professional. He was until last year Business Head at Eikona and has spent a fair time in the PR industry. This column will appear mostly every other Thursday. His views here are personal.



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