Hotwire Blog

01 June, 2007

Measurements in a new media world

On Thursday (31 May), we spoke at a Dow Jones Expert Series event on measurement and it raised some interesting questions about measurement in both traditional media, and increasingly new media.

It was clear from the interest of the delegates that measurement is an area where PR agencies and clients alike are seeking ways to improve and develop. PR has been for many years seen as the ‘un-measurable’ of the marketing mix. While it is changing (quite rightly), if yesterday's event showed anything, it was that there are still many PR professionals that put measurement in the 'nice to have but not essential' bracket. Unless measurement is put at the heart of a PR campaigns then how do you know it is effective? How do you adapt and learn from past activities? How do you justify PR spend?

In traditional media, there are lots of tools to help improve measurement. We already use several products with clients, as well as our own methodology, to help measure campaigns. However, measurement is a continual process and we (like many others in the marketing industry) are actively seeking ways to build more sophistication and tools into all our campaigns. Hopefully there will be more to say on this later in the year.

However, while clients are increasingly looking at investing in measurement of traditional media coverage in print, online and broadcast, the world of new media is a completely different world and many PR professionals have yet to grapple with it fully. We believe that in the new media world measurement really morphs into monitoring and our fellow speakers yesterday agreed. Indeed, how do you measure 83.7 million blogs (according to Technorati and growing at 180,000 a day)?

By monitoring the blogosphere organisations can see whether there are potential issues to manage or indeed, opportunities to predict big stories and take them out to the traditional media, as well as responding to relevant and influential blogs. In particular, monitoring can raise alarm bells before an issue hits the mainstream, or at the very worst, allows you to have messages and responses ready. Apple’s monitoring of blogs around its release of the iPod Nano is the perfect example of seeing an issue early (easily scratched screens) and responding in the appropriate manner to reduce the potential negative impact to iPod sales and Apple’s brand.

The PR industry is recognising that in the new media world we now live and work in measurement is changing. For traditional media, there are increasingly sophisticated tools to track and measure campaigns, yet in the new media world, monitoring must be brought into the fold. A combination of measurement and monitoring is required to give a full picture of the traditional and new media landscapes and for communication campaigns to be truly effective.


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