Measurement matters… and now we have an international certificate to prove it!
It’s been an interesting year to say the least, and we’ve seen things like making banana bread, rainbow paintings and completing Joe Wicks’ workouts all feature heavily in people’s daily routines (all of which we’ve also done!).
Learning and development have also been a big focus for a lot of people, and as a team, we’ve invested some of our time in understanding how we could be even better for our clients.
So, earlier this year we committed to link up with the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and take on one of their gold-standard measurement courses.
We enrolled on the AMEC International Certificate in Measurement and Evaluation – a ten-week course taught online at degree level – and are proud to say we passed the assessment with flying colours!
It means a lot of what we were already doing and measuring for our clients stacks up pretty well against industry-leading standards. So obviously we were pleased about that.
But we’ve also been able to evolve the way we plan and evaluate our activity in line with the AMEC framework, which is helping us drive even better results all round. There are so many great tools and techniques now to help track campaigns more effectively, which means we never want to stand still and we’re always looking to improve what we do.
Measuring Outputs, Outtakes, Outcomes and Impact
We’ve always believed in the power of integrated communications (check out our Creative Delivery model – inspired by PESO principles – if you haven’t already seen it) and our purpose is to create meaningful change for the clients we work with, and for each other.
That stood us in good stead for the AMEC course because harnessing the power of PR, social media, content marketing and paid activity are all essential. Individually, all of these can deliver brilliant results but when they combine and can be measured effectively, that’s when you can really see things in terms of outputs, outtakes and outcomes.
Outputs are the things that can be measured across PESO channels. Things like the reach of paid advertising, visitors to a website, the reach of media coverage or how many social posts have been posted.
Outtakes start to focus more on qualitative measures. This is the response and reactions seen to any activity. How well understood was the topic? Did people subscribe for more information? Or did you see an uplift in return website visitors?
And then there are Outcomes – the holy grail of PR. This is where the effect of the activity on the target audience needs to be measured. So, we’re looking for increased levels of trust, lead generation, registrations or greater brand preference.
The final piece of the puzzle here is Impact – measuring the difference that all of the efforts have made. Has staff or customer retention increased? Have sales gone up? Have cost savings been made?
For too long agencies have been guilty of focusing too much on outputs without knowing if programmes of work were making much difference to the companies and organisations they support. The work of AMEC is helping to shine a light on bad practices and we’re proud to be putting our work to these incredibly high standards.
Does PR or communications really deliver any value?
I’ve spent the majority of my career working in PR and over the years, I’ve found that the brands and businesses I speak to generally fall into one of two camps – the believers and the non-believers.
The believers get it. They know how important reputation is for their business. They know the impact it can have on things like sales, share price or staff retention. And they understand how important it is to create stories and content regularly, to shape people’s opinions and ultimately influence their behaviours.
Then there are the ones that don’t get it. They can’t understand the value of reputation building. They view most communications work as the ‘dark arts’. And unless there’s a direct boost to the bottom line at the end of the month, they don’t see the point of it. To be honest, we tend to find these businesses are the ones that are looking for short term fixes and don’t want to tell their stories (for a variety of reasons), but that’s probably a blog for another day!
Despite knowing how the non-believers were never likely to be the kind of clients we would be working with at No Brainer, it’s always bothered us how the importance of good communications and building long-term trust can so often be overlooked.
Evaluation and proving the value of communications is usually at the heart of it and the industry only has itself to blame. Years of poorly planned and badly measured campaigns have created an environment where work is rarely understood, and its value rightly questioned. PR and communications have been way behind the curve.
There is no single metric that defines success in marketing or communications. But integrated campaigns where the combination of different tactics and channels are being measured side-by-side is where every communications agency needs to be. And AMEC agree.
We’d love to put our fancy new AMEC credentials to the test, so if you’re fed up with your current agency, need some extra resources for your team or have a campaign you’d just like to chat about, drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get straight back to you!