On behalf of PR Council and AMEC, we surveyed agencies and brands about their measurement practices. Last week, we presented the results of this research to PR Council members with Johna Burke, the CEO of AMEC.

Johna began by saying, “Measurement and analysis is a two-way street, between agency pros and clients. Measurement isn’t something that communicators do at the end of a campaign. It must be a collaborative effort with the client and occur before the campaign begins.”

She continued, “Agree on measurement protocols at the outset. Clearly communicate them to the team at the beginning of a campaign. Measure against the agreed upon objectives.”

It’s easy to focus on outputs and vanity metrics rather than outcomes. Johna said, “Measurement isn’t free, though it need not be expensive. The programming budget for a campaign should fund measurement and analytics. As in so much of PR, measurement and analytics is a matter of education….for agency and client pros alike, and for clients’ C-Suites.”

We surveyed 114 participants from March 22 to April 22, 2024, inviting members and contacts from PR Council, AMEC, and Provoke Media. The majority of participants were PR agencies (58%), with the remainder evenly split between integrated agencies, independent consultancies, and brands. Just under half (46%) of organizations were North American focused, but 35% were global and 19% were outside the U.S. and Canada.

Of the agencies and consultancies, nearly half work with firms with $100+M in revenue. Over a third work with small businesses (firms under $10M), and almost a quarter work with startups.

We asked participants how frequently each of the following occurred:

  • 51% of the time clients and prospects scope a measurement and evaluation budget into the RFP and SOW.
  • 50% of the time measurement and evaluation have specific budget allocations.
  • 80% of the time participants make sure to align PR and communication metrics with broader business goals.

(Methodological note: It’s hard for participants to precisely estimate such things. For each measure, they were asked whether this occurred “Always, Often, Sometimes, Rarely, or Never.” We re-coded Always as 100%, Often as 75%, Sometimes as 50%, Rarely as 25%, and Never as 0% to prepare our estimates.)

Seven out of ten (71%) said most or all their clients require measurement, evaluation and reporting to demonstrate the effectiveness of their work. Participants were almost evenly split on who pays for it, the agency or the brand.

In terms of the metrics they consider most important in evaluating the effectiveness of PR and communications initiatives, the top three were reputation (32%), share of voice (13%), and thought leadership (12%). 

Participants are staying informed as the content, reputation and media landscape changes: Three out of four do so by assessing/implementing new tools (76%), and six out of ten by following the industry trades (60%). About four out of ten take online and offline courses (42%) or rely on AMEC (40%).

Johna added, “If you’re not measuring and evaluating your work, you’re guessing and adding to the impression that PR is a soft skill not a value creator.  Agencies can’t expect clients to insist on monitoring, measurement and analytics. It’s the agency’s job to drive the train.”

Johna concluded with the following recommendations: “Commit to measurement and analysis from the outset of a campaign and craft a budget for it with the client. Collaborate with the client on measurable goals that align with business goals. Commit to educate clients and your firm about measurement and analysis and create an effort for monitoring technology and regulatory updates that influence monitoring, measurement and analytics. If you’re at the beginning of a measurement journey with a client, start with AMEC’s Integrated Evaluation Framework.”

Author Notes:

Jeffrey Henning

Gravatar Image
Jeffrey Henning, IPC is a professionally certified researcher and has personally conducted over 1,400 survey research projects. Jeffrey is a member of the Insights Association and the American Association of Public Opinion Researchers. In 2012, he was the inaugural winner of the MRA’s Impact award, which “recognizes an industry professional, team or organization that has demonstrated tremendous vision, leadership, and innovation, within the past year, that has led to advances in the marketing research profession.” In 2022, the Insights Association named him an IPC Laureate. Before founding Researchscape in 2012, Jeffrey co-founded Perseus Development Corporation in 1993, which introduced the first web-survey software, and Vovici in 2006, which pioneered the enterprise-feedback management category. A 35-year veteran of the research industry, he began his career as an industry analyst for an Inc. 500 research firm.