Advance Your PR Measurement with AMEC’s “Measurement Maturity Mapper”
Folks in the PR industry have been talking about how important it is to focus on tracking and evaluating their campaigns for years — now, we’ve finally got a tool that can help us do just that.
Back in June 2018, the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) announced at their global summit held in Barcelona that they were developing a tool – dubbed the Measurement Maturity Mapper (M3) – to help organisations benchmark their progress towards best practices and evaluate the current effectiveness of their measurement activities. AMEC has since launched the Measurement Maturity Mapper during the AMEC Measurement Month, which was held in November 2018. The free tool is now available for all to use, regardless of whether you’re an AMEC member.
What is the Measurement Maturity Mapper?
The Measurement Maturity Mapper is a tool that allows PR pros and companies to plot their measurement journey against the set of guidelines within the Barcelona Principles. With this tool, you’ll be able to identify where you stand on the AMEC M3 scale, gain better clarity about your strengths and weaknesses and grow your tracking and evaluation programme to drive business success.
M3 was developed by a team of experts, including Paul Hender, Chief Operations Officer, Europe and North America at CARMA, Ben Levine, Director and Head of Research (Analytics & Measurement) at FleishmanHillard Fishburn, Aseem Sood, CEO of Impact Research & Measurement and Colin Wheeler, Managing Director at Survey Solutions. According to Colin, who led the team, the new tool was developed to “drive cultural change within organisations” and “help communicators use data to show the business impact of their work”.
How does M3 work, exactly? In a nutshell, M3 is a diagnostic questionnaire that takes users through a set of questions about their company and how it approaches measurement and evaluation. Using these questions, the tool will position each company on a map and benchmark it against other companies in the same sector or industry. The tool will then suggest recommended actions to help the company improve in the area of evaluation and measurement.
All in all, M3 looks at three different aspects of measurement and evaluation which are reporting, planning and impact. “Reporting” refers to how an organisation measures its communications outputs, outtakes and outcomes, “planning” deals with how an organisation plans its communications strategy and “impact” identifies how an organisation relates communications activity to actual business or organisational impact.
Does the PR industry need a new approach to PR measurement?
For many PR pros, the question is: does the PR industry really need a new approach to PR measurement? The answer is a resounding yes.
Consider this: the team behind M3 did an initial pilot study to survey the PR landscape and they found that while the vast majority of PR professionals and marketers are regularly evaluating their activity, they still aren’t doing a thorough job. More specifically, only 69% are measuring both the quality and quantity of their PR efforts and just 19% contribute PR data to marketing mix analysis so that they can analyse and understand the contribution of different channels.
In other words, most PR teams are taking the time and effort to track key metrics and use said metrics to plan their campaigns. However, PR teams still fall short in tying their metrics to business results and demonstrating real business impact. Here’s what PR professionals need to realise: as long as PR teams aren’t able to showcase how their campaigns drive business impact, PR will be regarded as a “cost center” instead of an activity that’s able to generate direct value for a business. Hopefully, M3 will help to change all that.
Barcelona Principles & the Integrated Evaluation Framework form the basis for M3
AMEC launched the Barcelona Principles to create a framework for best practices in PR measurement back in 2010; they’ve also updated this framework to come up with the Barcelona Principles 2.0 recently. Then there’s the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework; launched in 2016, this framework is an online resource that demystifies measurement and evaluation best practices and guides PR professionals through how to accurately track key metrics when running a campaign.
So, what’s the difference between M3, Barcelona Principles 2.0 and the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework? Think of M3 as an initiative that builds on both the Barcelona Principles 2.0 and the AMEC Integrated Framework. M3 essentially puts the two existing frameworks together and generates actionable recommendations for PR professionals based on these two frameworks. In fact, the series of questions that M3 employs are all rooted in the Barcelona Principles 2.0 and/or the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework.
Measurement Maturity Mapper & PESO
Here in our blog, we’ve previously discussed the importance of diversifying your PR efforts across paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) channels. For companies who are struggling with tracking and attributing their results properly, M3 will come in handy.
According to AMEC chairman Richard Bagnall, M3 exists to make sense of the complexities of working across the various PESO channels; it also shows PR pros how to shift the emphasis of evaluation “from counting outputs to proving value via the critical outtakes, outcomes and organisational impact” of their work.
Simply put, PR professionals and marketers can use M3 to line up their PESO efforts and evaluate them to determine which contributes the most to their organisational success. This, in turn, allows these PR professionals to fine-tune and optimise their campaigns in each PESO category.
Pros & Cons of the Measurement Maturity Mapper
One of the most significant advantages of M3 is that it comes with a recommendations tab that highlights a company’s strengths in reporting, planning and impact and makes practical recommendations for improvement in each category. Because M3 has already been piloted by several AMEC members and their clients, there is an initial set of benchmark data that new users can use to benchmark their performance.
That’s not all — as more people access the tool, network effects kick in; more data collected translates to more accurate benchmarking and recommendations. For those of you concerned about privacy issues, there’s no need to worry — your data is 100% anonymised and only you will be able to see your answers and results.
Now, moving on to one potential downside of utilising M3: there is a risk that PR professionals can get overwhelmed by all the data and recommendations presented to them and don’t know where to start. As Fergus Campbell, who heads Gumtree’s communications team, puts it: “You have to be more of a detective to work out what data in that mix is useful to you; there’s no one-size-fits-all.” The key lies in identifying what data point or which recommendation is the most relevant to you and honing in on that so that you can incorporate it into your strategy.
PR evaluation: Does the PR industry practice what it preaches?
On the surface level, it seems rather clear-cut: PR professionals and agencies can achieve better outcomes when they evaluate their PR activities, so they should dedicate more time and resources to improving their evaluation strategy. In the day-to-day of it all, though, not everyone in the PR industry practices what they preach.
To dive deeper into this, some PR professionals or companies engage in “intentional avoidance”. According to PR experts and researchers Jesper Falkheimer and Howard Nothhaft, this happens because PR practitioners know that they over-promise when pitching to clients or speaking to superiors.
In such a scenario, rigorous evaluation is not in the interest of PR practitioners, simply because they aren’t able to deliver. As such, these PR professionals avoid tracking their campaigns in any sort of meaningful way and use simplistic methods to measure outputs rather than actual outcomes and impact.
How to get started with Measurement Maturity Mapper
To get started with M3, simply head over to the AMEC website and access the M3 tool. It’ll take approximately ten minutes to complete the diagnostic questionnaire; following which, you’ll be able to identify where you stand as compared to other firms in the same market or sector. M3 will also provide recommendations that will help you improve your evaluation efforts.
M3’s impact on PR Measurement and the PR Industry
It’s no secret that large parts of the PR industry aren’t up to speed when it comes to measurement and evaluation. A study by Jim Macnamara, a Professor of Public Communication at the University of Technology Sydney, in fact, concluded that PR evaluation remains in a state of “deadlock” — while there has been much ongoing debate about improving upon measurement techniques and efforts in the PR industry, most companies nevertheless look at mere outputs, not outcomes or impact.
That said, we’re hopeful that the introduction of M3 will trigger a change in the world of PR as we know it. With M3, it’s easier than ever for companies to identify where they stand and take corrective action to work towards improving their measurement methods. If you haven’t done so already, head on to AMEC’s website to check out M3!