Researchers Have All the Fun: Thoughts on AMEC's Lisbon Measurement Summit

Last week, I, along with several of my Ketchum colleagues from the U.S., U.K., Spain, Germany and South Africa, had the pleasure of convening in Lisbon for the 3rd European Summit on Measurement by the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC). The main purpose of the summit was to build off of the work done last year in Barcelona, where the industry adopted seven guiding principles for itself to guide us in our work.

In addition to mapping a way forward (more on that in a moment), the summit also included seven workshop sessions, each one focused on demonstrating how to apply each one of the seven Barcelona Principles in the daily lives of PR practitioners. Here are some of the highlights:

Market Mix Modeling
This session was a practical demonstration — led by Rainer Lang from Ketchum Pleon Germany and Joana Clayton of FedEx — on how we can use statistical analysis to demonstrate to our clients the direct effect that PR professionals and communicators have on our clients’ business. Through modeling, we can begin to explain how variables, both within (i.e., PR) and out of our control (i.e., the seasons), contribute to the incremental change in something like sales. Why is this important? Because in addition to showing how the needle changes as a result of our work, at the end of the day, we can show our clients a strong return-on-investment metric.

Valid Metrics Matrix
Of course, we all know PR is about much more than just demonstrating ROI. It’s about demonstrating our value. This is why this workshop (led by Ruth Pestana of Hill & Knowlton and Mike Daniels, Chairman of AMEC) was so vitally important. Last year, the industry as a whole formally rejected the use of AVEs as measure of value. Still, the question remained: how do we show clients the value of our work? To answer this question, the AMEC task force on AVEs developed valid metrics for campaign measurement. In short, the new valid metrics align specific outputs, outcomes and business goals with the communications process, allowing us to measure and demonstrate results throughout the PR continuum — from concept creation, to distribution of creative material, to target audience consumption. The valid metrics matrices (which can be found at recognize there is no one single metric that can measure PR’s value, and that the metrics we use to measure need to be specific to client goals and objectives.

Social Media Standards
Perhaps the most lively discussion of conference, this session attempted to take a first step toward adopting a consistent set of standards by which we measure, track and define the outputs and outcomes of social media (the session was led by Tim Marklein of WCG, Richard Bagnall of Metrica, and Katie Paine of KDPaine & Partners). While there was some disagreement about what constitutes engagement, how to define a social media influencer, and how best to determine sentiment from a global and multicultural perspective, there was one thing the packed room could agree: that social and digital media have changed not only how we communicate, but how we evaluate those communications. Which brings us to one of the conference’s main objectives: setting the measurement agenda for 2020. If Barcelona established our core principles, then Lisbon was meant to push the boundaries forward and make the case to finally embed program research and measurement into the heart of every PR program.

The planning session was moderated and led by our head of global research, David Rockland. Before hearing what the industry’s professionals societies (PRSA, ICCO, IPR, AMEC and CPRR) and key clients (Philips, FedEx and Microsoft) wanted included in the measurement agenda, David presented research results gathered by Ketchum about what PR and communications professionals wanted to see moving forward. While there were a number of interesting results, the most compelling, I thought, was that practitioners are looking for more education, training and knowledge when it comes to measurement and evaluation. Not just for the clients they serve, but for themselves as well. This is a clear call to action for us as research professionals.

After hearing the professional and client cases, measurement and evaluation professionals from around the globe set four priorities for the next decade:

  • Measurement of PR campaigns and programs needs to become an intrinsic part of the PR toolkit.

  • We need to define approaches that show how corporate reputation builds/creates value.

  • We need to create and adopt global standards for social media measurement.

  • We need to institute a client education program such that clients insist on measurement of outputs, outcomes and business results from their programs.

So what does this mean for Ketchum and its clients? I think it means that we are well-situated to continue to be an industry leader in research, measurement and evaluation. The Barcelona Principles, and the agenda set at Lisbon, align not only with our core values, but with the services we already provide.
Lisbon was a wonderful opportunity for us to take stock of where we’ve come over the last year, and discuss how to continue to move forward. I think we, Ketchum, should take heart in knowing that we’re helping to lead and move the industry forward. The challenge, as always, will be our ability to continuously refine and adapt the work that we do and stay ahead of the curve.