Representatives from Microsoft and Cymfony are addressing the IPR measurement conference delegation with a presentation entitled: The Next Generation of Enterprise Measurement for Enterprise. (To be clear they’re talking only about media measurement). You’d expect a company like Microsoft to have a data rich / savvy / hungry culture. And they are, clearly. So when the issue of measuring (editorial and social media coverage anyway…oh, and buzz, too, though I’m not fond of that term) came up, there was a desire to arrive at a single number that represents the quality of the coverage and to track that number over time. I appreciate the context–they are the most written about organization on the planet–and I appreciate the need to solve what Microsoft calls measurement anarchy–they had multiple editorial measurement systems in place. However, I worry about the danger in reducing something as complex as PR and scads of media content analysis data to one number. As a colleague of mine points out, a single score for media coverage (however complex the methodology used to generate it) is a bit like getting a 4.7 from the Russian ice dancing judge. Wonderful, but what does that mean? The alternative? More data and more analysis, and using the ice dancing analogy, akin to sitting down with your coach and reviewing a video of your performance and discussing it in great detail. The whole point of measurement and the data it yields is to provide extra depth and insight to communications. Now, certainly not all organizations are created equal and not all organiztions will want to (or should) measure alike, so whatever works for you and whatever floats your boat, I suppose. But a little information is a dangerous thing.
In fairness to Microsoft and Cymfony, we haven’t and aren’t likely to see behind the methodological curtain. Still, what’s not clear, and this is my hope for Microsoft, is whether or not this single number can be reversed or deconstructed to go back to more rich data that may lie behind it for more in-depth analysis. Also, what’s not yet happening, Microsoft and Cymfony admit, are attempts to link this score to other market, brand, employee and reputation research.