The 2016 AMEC International Summit, the industry’s largest measurement event, took place in London recently, and I had the pleasure of attending along with my Ketchum colleagues, clients and measurement peers. Since the conference began in Berlin, it has continued to grow, attracting some of the top minds and companies in our industry today. It was my first time in London, and I was immediately charmed by the people (and the tea). And although I didn’t find Hogwarts, I did walk away with many new peers and a curiosity of what is next for our growing, but perhaps challenged, industry.
This year’s summit addressed a key issue companies and organizations face – how to make measurement relevant. Entitled “Making Metrics Matter,” the conference addressed a question we ask ourselves as measurement professionals: How do you “convince” skeptic audiences both externally and within your own company, on the importance of metrics?
To kick the conference off, we reflected and remembered a true thought leader and believer in metrics we lost last year, Don Bartholomew. I had the honor to introduce the digital e-book, Metrics Man, which was a compilation of 67 of Don’s blog posts through his career. Fay Chen, last year’s Don Bartholomew Award recipient, edited the piece.
After listening to a number of sessions and workshops, I began to understand that although we, as a part of the industry, know we are doing groundbreaking work, we are still just a growing teenager. We haven’t yet won respect (C-suite understanding and ears), earned regular allowance (lack of budget), and gained knowledge (not enough education and free resources). We know what we want to be when we grow up, and we have a lot to do before then. To summarize a few things I learned:
1. Budget is and will continue to be a barrier.
According to industry research conducted by Burson-Martsellar and Ipsos Reputation, 75% of communications professionals still do not use data for measurement and find the top barriers to be a lack of understanding by staff and leadership, and cost. Until our internal colleagues understand the value, we’ll keep missing an invitation to the table.
2. There is need for free educational tools that will help new measurement professionals adapt and teach smart framework.
According to AMEC’s annual Business Insights Survey, the Barcelona Principles are being adopted, but the need for education and training was the number one requested need (75% of respondents).
Que AMEC’s new Integrated Evaluation Framework – finally! Richard Bagnall, Integrated Evaluation Framework lead and newly appointed AMEC chair, unveiled the new tool with his team at the close of the conference.
3. Non-profits are just like the rest of us.
52% of non-profit organizations surveyed through the AMEC non-profit group research stated that budget is a top barrier in conducting more frequent communications measurement.
4. One size does not fit all.
We learned on the panel for Measurement across Culture and Time Zones that measurement needs to be both global and local (glocal) to adapt and achieve commonality. Additionally, our client Aaron Radelet from Hilton had a similar experience when measuring across Hilton Worldwide and its family of hotels.
5. The industry growth is optimistic, but may be waning.
According to the Business Insights Survey, 54% of members are seeing revenue growth compared to the year prior (down from 74% in 2015). On the plus side for our industry, measurement in PR agencies is up from five in 10 thinking it’s critically important to eight in 10.
6. Integration is crucial, why are we not doing it already?
At an Advisory Board meeting with some of the top leaders in global and integrated communications measurement, we talked about integration. It’s often hard to connect the dots across multiple business units in global companies. We discussed marrying survey data and brand reputation data (structured) with media monitoring and digital measurement (unstructured) for a holistic view of campaign impact.
While we still have a lot of growing to do, additional tools and knowledge are getting us there. It was encouraging to see the enthusiasm for the industry and where it’s headed from younger delegates at the conference and the awards dinner. It means we have a bright future ahead of us.
In fact, one of our own was honored as part of this future. Marni Zapakin was awarded Young Measurement Professional of the Year. Marni, a rockstar at KGRA New York, is a Senior Project Manager who coincidentally also works with a few of our award winners.
A version of this article can be found on PRSA.com.