It’s Official: Harold Burson says lack of PR Measurement is no. 1 Obstacle

October 12, 2006 at 7:46 pm 2 comments

Last night, I attended a communications forum in Geneva where Harold Burson, the founder of the PR agency Burson & Marsteller spoke (in the photo above, he is on the right and Keith Rockwell from WTO on the left).

In responding to a question from a member of the audience (none other than the public affairs representative from the US Mission) – as to how can communicators measure the effectiveness of their programmes, Mr Burson responded:

“The lack of research by communication professionals is the number one obstacle in the PR field today – people don’t do enough research to evaluate the impact of their activities..”

I agree fully. Then he went on to explain the reason “why”. For Mr Burson, the reason is cost – PR research and measurement is too expensive, he mentioned that often research to evaluate can often cost as much as the activities itself. And that’s where I disagree – PR measurement does not have to be expensive. Most capable communication managers should be able to manage measurement tasks themselves through using low cost media monitoring services, easy-to-use online surveys and innovative methods such as case studies and tracking mechanisms. To get started, check out the guidelines from the Institute for PR. And there are certainly other reasons why communication professionals don’t evaluate.

You can read more about the forum on the Geneva Communicators blog. And you can read more about Mr Burson’s thoughts on his blog (is he the oldest PR blogger at 84 years old..?)


Entry filed under: Communication evaluation, PR evaluation.

Assumptions, Evaluation and Development Why aren’t we measuring?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John Brimelow  |  September 12, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    OK, so Harold says in his blog “The case I would make is that if publicity can enhance a $10 million advertising campaign 20 percent, it’s worth an investment commensurate with such an objective.”
    my question is, how does he measure the 20% and does the high cost of the research needed to obtain that number lower his margin or add to the commensurate investment?
    the question is rhetorical of course…

  • 2. Glenn  |  September 13, 2007 at 8:44 am

    Thanks John, I believe by “enhance” Harold means “increases sales”. Now he may be able to make a study after a campaign to show what was the contribution of publicity events/stunts/materials to his sales increase (by asking customers what was the main prompt to purchase), but I don’t see how it’s possible to do before hand. He may then base his comment on previous experience where he did such a research. And does the 20% include the cost of the research needed? I wouldn’t know…!


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