Three things 2020 has taught me about comms measurement
2020 has taught me many things – from how to use TikTok to the art of dressing for a zoom call. Many of these ‘skills’ I will be happy to leave behind when normal life resumes.
But, this crazy year has also given me a new perspective on some familiar work challenges, which I hope I will be able to hang onto in 2021.
As AMEC’s (Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications) annual measurement month gets underway, I’m sharing some of my key learnings and what I think they will mean for measurement over the next twelve months:
Strong comms measurement is non-negotiable
As someone who has spent years banging the drum for better measurement, it has been great to see increased focus on measurement across the industry throughout the pandemic.
Historical benchmarks and “business as usual” suddenly lost their meaning overnight in March and brands needed to start really listening to what their audiences thought, felt and needed. As an agency, we have never run so many social listening exercises or crunched as much research data as we have done this year. But, the outcome is clients who are more attuned to their customers’ needs than ever before and who understand the value this insight can deliver.
A shift towards ensuring all comms measurement is linked to business objectives was already well underway but this is likely to accelerate in 2021 as economic uncertainty means few businesses will continue to run campaigns out of habit or based on gut feel. Measurement based on vanity metrics – such as reach – alone simply won’t cut it any more.
Being wrong isn’t the same as failing
This has been a bug bear of mine for a while. There is a tendency in the PR industry as a whole to amplify successes and gloss over anything that didn’t deliver. But, for me, this is a mistake – there is often so much to be learnt from what didn’t work.
The AMEC framework guides us to measure outputs, outtakes and outcomes. By tracking all three you can often identify ways to strengthen campaigns that could otherwise have been chalked up to experience. For example, if a campaign generates great coverage (outputs) and strong engagement (outtakes) but no awareness or perception shifts (outcomes) then you know that the content was hitting the mark with the audience but perhaps the call to action, key messages or branding wasn’t strong enough. With a small tweak, it could easily become a hugely successful initiative.
But this process of deduction takes some time and patience. With 2020’s many twists and turns, we have all become more accustomed to watching, waiting, testing and learning.
In the measurement space this is incredibly exciting. The most powerful brands and businesses of 2021 will be the ones that are comfortable to make an occasional mistake and learn from it.
Collaboration is the key to innovation
Despite being physically distant from my team for much of the year, we have innovated at pace – delivering some of our best work to date in the midst of 2020’s chaos.
The reason for this? Collaboration. Discussions that would have taken place in a quick desk-based chat are now happening within full-team meetings. Everyone knows everything and, as a result, each project benefits from fresh perspectives and ideas.
In a similar vein, AMEC’s measurement month calendar of events looks to be one of the most comprehensive yet – with more of the industry’s leading lights willing to share their knowledge and expertise than ever before.
It’s a trend that will benefit us all and I’m hopeful it will survive long-past the days of zoom calls and quarantinis.
Marianne Morgan is Director of Research and Analytics at Citypress and European Chapter Chair for AMEC.