December 7, 2016

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

The new AMEC Framework for Integrated PR Evaluation

The new AMEC Framework for Integrated PR Evaluation

In June, communicators gathered in London for the unveiling of the new AMEC Framework for PR evaluation. This framework walks communications and PR pros through the steps needed to establish a measurement system that actually produces data that can then be acted upon, and provide reporting numbers that show actual results.

Measurement of PR efforts has been around for a while, but real measurement—things that go well beyond clip counts and (shudder) AVEs—have not been adopted widely or quickly. There are a number of reasons for slow adoption, but the biggest hurdle most likely has been a level of uncertainty about what to measure, how to set goals, and the overall process of setting up a measurement system properly.

The AMEC framework makes a huge step in addressing that learning gap. By walking users through each step using an interactive platform designed to assist users in making certain they’ve checked off all of the right boxes, communicators are less likely to overlook key steps. Providing a road map is extremely helpful, but it of course does not eliminate work. You still have to sit down, carve out a few hours or more, and think through your program.

Industry reaction has been largely positive. Here’s what some others have been saying about the rollout of the AMEC framework:

Aaron Mann at AudienceArc has written a very comprehensive blog post that examines all of the reasons why this is a valuable tool. The entire piece is worth reading closely, but I think that one of the most important points he makes is on agency and client alignment:

The AMEC Framework forces discipline on agency and on client.  Your strategic plan will include key messages, tactics, assets, channels, timelines, resources, and more. The framework makes clear where a client will need to make tradeoffs: prioritizing objectives, evaluating budgets and resources, making messaging decisions, and setting realistic timelines.

Another common reason an agency gets fired is for “not proving value.”  This is another way of saying “we don’t see a clear connection between our investment and the outcomes that matter to us.”  The AMEC Framework aligns agency and client, defining what is “value” and how is it going to be measured.

Bailey Roy at Ketchum attended the conference in London, and although her post is more of a roundup of the conference as a whole, she identifies clearly where the AMEC framework fits as an industry need by saying:

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).

Gini Dietrich of Arment-Dietrich wrote a very thorough post about who AMEC is, how to use the interactive framework, and, most significantly, why this is all so important to the PR industry. She gets to the heart of why this framework is so useful:

It takes all of the things we talk about, in terms of metrics, and makes it incredibly easy for you to track the things that make the most sense for your organization.

It also removes media impressions, advertising equivalencies, and other vanity metrics as “impact” metrics.

You may find some of those things in outtakes and outputs, but not in impact.

As always with the Spin Sucks blog, the community Gini has built is full of smart people so the comments on the post are worth reading too.

There are a number of points that consistently show up in posts about the framework, and it’s worth noting them here. First, the framework doesn’t preclude the need to do the hard work of measurement; it provides a guide on how to organize effectively to do good measurement. Second, as CARMA CEO Mazen Nahawi notes in his piece about the framework, it is up to you and your client to determine what works best for your given situation. Third, and perhaps most importantly, it establishes a structure for putting into action the Barcelona Principles.

Finally, it’s important to note that AMEC hasn’t just thrown the framework out there and said “good luck.” A global working group has been set up that includes the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), International Communications Consultancy Organization (ICCO), and AMEC, which will evaluate the use and efficacy of the framework through controlled testing.

This new framework enables PR and communications practitioners to apply metrics that matter to their campaigns. While it might take some setup time to get the hang of it, I think that the more this framework is used, the more natural it will become. This is a great step forward for measuring PR. Here’s a link to the framework so you can try it out for yourself: http://www.amecorg.com/amecframework/interactive-framework.html.

Additional coverage of the AMEC Framework can be found at The Measurement Standard, a sister publication to Media Bullseye.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for just over 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR work, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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