A few weeks back I had an opportunity to judge IABC Toronto’s soon-to-be-awarded Ovation Awards. Not long thereafter, an industry colleague, who is judging the PR category of the upcoming Canadian Marketing Association awards, asked for some input on the wording of measureable objectives and evaluating results against those objectives.
While I was encouraged to see the attention paid to measurement as an element of an award-winning CMA submission, I must admit to being slightly concerned with what I saw as far as how some of the campaigns submited to IABC Toronto for an Ovation award were measured. Some fell just short of lighting the kindling clump ‘o clips on fire to measure the height of the spin smoke (partial hat tip to Terry Fallis for inspiring parts of this pithy remark; though he didn’t use it to describe the Ovation-award submissions to be clear). I say this not as a representative of my employer and relating only to our media content analysis (and public awareness/opinion correlation) methodology, but rather as an empassioned advocate of measurement of many methods. Sir Soapbox-a-lot. I should also point out that, tactically, many of the submissions were outstanding and very creative. Clearly there is excellent work going on out there. Let’s just be a touch more strategic about how we’re measuring it.
I’m wondering when we might see awards specific to communications measurement (added as a category to existing IABC or CPRS awards programs or perhaps as a stand-alone) start to materialize in Canada as they have elsewhere. A few among many examples: the Intsitute for Public Relations Research and their measurement commission and the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) Awards. (Transparency: my employer is a member of AMEC). To be fair and clear, the awards wouldn’t recognize that one methodology was used over another, but rather that: 1. objectives were measureable and related to the business and 2. that the measurement methods, whatever it/they was/were appropriately aligned with and demonstrated that those objectives had been met.
Hey, I’ll be the first to recognize that measurement as an awards category isn’t nearly as sexy as ‘best use of_____insert sexy tactic of your choice here______,’ but we need to start somewhere and maybe awards will continue to raise the bar on the dialogue on measurement in Canada.
Certainly, such awards would not be without issues to be overcome. Who judges, for example? My vote would be a cross section of agency types, corporate, government and non-profit practitioners, CPRS and IABC board reps, perhaps a leading academic or two, as well as reps from all measurement suppliers in the country. To avoid conflict of interest, should one or some of the above have an interest in a particular submission, then they leave the judging to the remainder of the group that doesn’t.
The idea of awards for PR measurement is an interesting one. But in my experience — as someone who has judged countless IABC awards submissions at the international, national and local level, as well as some CPRS competitions — it is measurement that tends to be the make-or-break criterion that moves an entry in most categories to the next level. So often (as I’m sure you know, Alan), communicators talk a good game about evaluation at the front end of the submission. But the proof is wanting. Measurement is limited to gut reactions (“we got three letters from people who thought the campaign was great!”) or column inches (“13 community papers gave us a mention!”).
My concern with measurement awards or categories is that they tend to ghetto-ize the function rather than make it an integral part of any communication program or project.
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