Davos Post-Mortem
Got fiction?

I measure, therefore I am

DescartesIn a time of tight budgets it's not surprising that many  PR people are obsessed with measurement.

After all, they have to justify their existence.

Unfortunately, outputs are easier to capture than outcomes. And while a pile of news clippings might impress some executives, others are skeptical about its real dollars and cents value.

So the search for the Holy Grail of PR measurement -- how to quantify its bottom line impact  -- continues.

As someone who stumbled through the dark in that very quest for more than three decades, I can only admire the efforts of such organizations as the Institute for Public Relations, which claims to do research in, on, and for PR.

Research "in PR" deals with planning and measurement. Research "on PR" is all about benchmarking and best practices.

But the further I get from the need to justify what I do, the more I see that the real payoff is in research "for PR," into the social sciences underpinning the practice. 

Ironically, the practice of PR at the turn of the last century used many of the then-new discoveries of psychoanalysis, as this NPR story about Edward Bernays.  For more, see the Museum of PR

Though the practice of psychoanalysis isn't as popular as it once was, it stimulated more than a century of psychological research. Recent years have seen a flowering of new discoveries in human cognition and behavior through the application of everything from new survey techniques to functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

The question for PR practitioners is whether they are taking full advantage of these new discoveries to shape their work. Or whether they're spending more time counting newsclips. 




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