In this interview with Nigerian Tribune Newspaper, Media Evaluation and Reputation Measurement expert and Chief Executive Officer of P+ Measurement services, Mr. Philip Odiakose, justifies the call for measurements of PR activities, while insisting that such measurement must be done by independent measurement agencies, and not the one created by PR agencies. Excerpts:
The Nigerian PR industry has gone through series of changes of the years. Yes, PR has been around for a long time, in different forms, using different channels. I can say this because I was also a PR an. Practitioners have had to go through different phases, from the stage where it was primarily concerned with creating awareness and building recognition for the individuals/organization (where it was closely tied to advertising and promotion, and getting “the message” out to the widest possible audiences) to the phase where everything became explanatory with greater emphasis being placed on providing complete information to clearly articulate actions and policies. Now we are in a phase where PR and its clients are adapting clients and consumers together in an interchangeable system (making sure each party is making complementary adjustments or compromises so that both benefit from their relationship).
The journey has been long, and the focus has been different over the different phases, I believe we are in a new phase where PR measurement is taking center stage. It is not enough for brands and PR to create awareness, provide in-depth analysis and information and create organic engagement; it is paramount that each one of the activities of PR has to be measured to ensure that results are analyzed and built upon during every campaign and consumer engagement phase. Measurement is gaining grounds now because stakeholders are refusing to transcend into the phase that allows them to analyze and create better strategies. We are here to help brands make that informed decision.
How receptive is the industry to the issue of PR Measurement?
It has been a struggle, however, there has been an increase in awareness for brands and communications managers to see the need to engage an Independent measurement and evaluation agency for brand health check and performance audit, which is something that P+ has been pioneering and preaching for the Nigerian market. It has been a gradual process but brands are starting to understand that allowing their PR agencies to mark their own homework is doing a lot of damage to their brands.
We have also seen drawbacks from PR agencies but we are making progress. It has been a long an arduous crusade, there has even been speculations that some PR agencies are considering the establishment of new agencies that will cover communication measurement and evaluation, which is something I consider desperate and unprofessional because it is ultimately unhealthy for brands. We need to form a coalition, evaluation and PR to create better proposition for brands. At the end of the day, we are all working towards the same goal, which is to make brands and consumer lifestyle better.
One of the challenges to measuring PR impact in a strategic manner is the seeming reluctance of clients to provide data. How do you think the industry can overcome this?
Data is an important yet neglected issue across industries in Nigeria. We are a nation that rarely relies on data and this attitude has to change. As a measurement and evaluation agency, one of our biggest challenges has been getting data from partners, to beat the challenge we have had to rely on conducting independent research to vet information received which is more cost intensive. Another strategy we have used is that we are also encouraging our clients to trust us with data analysis, so that they can see the value in entrusting us with their data points – with the hope that if they see how much they could do they would release more data. We are in an era where big data and data analysis is causing a revolution in the way people do business, we just have to keep encouraging stakeholders to provide us with accurate data all through the business value chain.
The Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC), is recommending integrated Evaluation Framework as a measurement tool. What exactly is this about and how effective?
AMEC is the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication. It is the world’s largest media intelligence and insights professional organization, representing organizations and practitioners who provide media evaluation and communication research. AMEC currently has more than 160 members in 86 countries worldwide. AMEC’s pioneering work in the field has included the development of the Barcelona Principles; Barcelona Principles 2.0 and most recently the launch of the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework. AMEC’s integrated evaluation framework is a tool that provides a consistent and credible approach that works for organizations, tailored to very specific user cases and objectives. It is free and non-proprietary, allowing organizations, to benefit from its approach. We use AMEC’s framework because it is globally acceptable and it helps us achieve our objectives.
What are you doing to entrench PR Measurement culture in Nigeria?
Literacy, literacy, literacy. We are constantly engaging stakeholders, we are constantly setting up meetings, talking to the media about the need to push for measurements. We are speaking at events, writing editorials, developing case studies. This crusade is important to us as it allows us to create a better marketing communications spectrum for Nigeria.