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It is unhealthy and unprofessional for PR agencies to mark their own homework – Philip Odiakose
Leading independent communications/PR measurement agency in Nigeria, P+ Measurement Services, recently launched its Measurement and Evaluation Resource Centre in Lagos, a move considered a great feat by industry watchers. In a recent chat with the Managing Editor/CEO, Biznesswatch Magazine, Arthur Aghogho Eriye, Lead Consultant, P+ Measurement Services, Philip Odiakose, spoke on the numerous benefits organizations stands to benefit by engaging the professional services of an Independent communication/PR measurement agency and why it is unhealthy and unprofessional for PR agencies to mark their own homework. Excerpt:
For beginners, what is PR Measurement and Evaluation?
PR Measurement & Evaluation involves the measurement and analysis of public relations efforts, programs and campaigns. It involves the reportage of the outcome of a PR campaign so as to identify and ascertain success or failure of programs – while giving direction to future decision making and projections on marketing communications channels. In order words, we need to measure, evaluate, analyze and gauge the impact of every communication effort so as to drive effectiveness. At P+, we do not only measure PR campaigns, we monitor to determine market trends while providing our clients with strategic intelligence for their brands and industry, we also help analyze and predict future projections to help marketing teams determine scalable campaigns.
What valid metrics are measured in a PR or brand campaign?
At P+, we believe in using a structured approach for PR measurement. We believe that the objective of a campaign should determine what metrics it should be measured against. Even though there are sure set fire approaches, measuring the quality of content, tier analysis, tonality, competitive benchmarking, channel analysis, quantitative vs. qualitative analysis remain metrics that will always allow for the easy interpretation.
Most PR professionals, agencies now measure PR, how effective is this practice?
Personally, I believe PR agencies shouldn’t take Independent monitoring briefs; as it is unhealthy and unprofessional for an agency to mark their own homework. It is not right for you to be the accused, the judge and jury of your work. It is near impossible for PR agencies to present analysis of their own work without adding a form of bias and that is why we would rather work with core marketing communications teams to create a measurement program that accounts for all forms reportage without adding sentimentality. As an independent measurement agency, we are able to analyze and present evidence and suggestions based on real data that is devoid of internal sentiments – this is the beauty of the work we do.
There is this school of thought that believes that PR Measurement and evaluation is a threat to the Public Relations Industry, how true is this assertion?
I don’t believe in that false notion. I believe that the marketing communications industry is such a unique one that each member of the great big family tree (PR, advertising, branding, marketing and now measurement and evaluation can function side by side) to create greater brand experience for both clients and consumers. I can tell you categorically that since we started working with some of our esteemed clients in the Nigerian market, we have worked with PR agencies, ATL/BTL advertisers and communications managers – and we have been able to revamp brand value by analyzing results of key initiatives and making valid suggestions that have helped our client create bigger and better campaigns for consumers.
As a PR measurement and evaluation specialist, you work closely with brand and corporate communications managers. How would you rate the level of support and acceptance received so far?
I have to say that we have gotten a lot of support from the marketing communications industry over the last couple of years. Communications and Brand managers have turned into advocates for the independent measurement as they have seen the impact and value we have provided with our audit report. Business decisions are made and strategies are created from our work. We cannot say it has been an easy feat but it has been worth it.
You have been at the forefront in the call to establish Nigerian Media Monitoring and Measurement Association in Nigeria, what level of support have you received so far in this regard?
I have always been a strong campaigner for a Nigerian Media Monitoring and Measurement Association in Nigeria for us to develop a better-regulated industry. We are still in the early stages of conversation but I believe we are making positive strides towards achieving that dream.
Why do you think having a regulatory body will be instrumental to the success of the PR measurement and evaluation sector?
I believe the ability to create a body that governs our practice locally will help regularize industry capacity, while developing best practices for the market. It will also allow agencies become accountable for their actions as it will help set some ground rules for operations in the country.
Recently, you signed an exclusive partnership with NIPR, What does the partnership entail?
One important fragment of the work we do here in Nigeria is building capacity. Our primary agreement with the NIPR is aimed at providing Independent Monitoring and Evaluation for the Trade body and helping to up-skill the industry with the right measurement and evaluation practice. NIPR Lagos has been helpful in promoting our Measurement and Evaluation training program MATE+, which aim at training professionals across several categories over the next one year.
You are a strong proponent of the Barcelona Principle 2:0 method of measurement, why do you stand with this method as against the Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) currently being used be a lot of practitioners?
The use of AVE in Nigeria is still very high as PR agencies believe it is the only way to show value for spends, and it is detrimental to brand health. For a long time, PR was measured with AVE’s which is not true reflection of success as advertising is majorly about awareness and PR objectives most times go beyond awareness. The Barcelona Principle is a trusted insight based technique of measurement which contextualizes programs rather than using rigid AVE objectives of awareness against brand spend. It is important to note that we use measurement standards which are acceptable all over the world and we stand with the Barcelona Principle 2:0 as it allows brand to get a true representation of value and ROO (return on object)
How has it been running one of the leading PR measurement and evaluation outfit in the past three years and counting?
It has been a wonderful journey so far. Leading a crusade against age-long industry standards takes a lot of commitment and we are happy about the type of impact we have made so far. We have a lovely devoted and hardworking team here who are as passionate about creating a better marketing communications industry as I am and we are happy about our progress.
Are there challenges you encountered or it has been rosy all the way?
Surely, there are challenges. Creating best practices, convincing clients about net spend and budget, aligning with different industry stakeholders for collaborations and synchronization but it has all been worth it. I believe a dreamer should never be scared to wake up to the reality of life, but rather embrace it and make the best out of every situation.
For a lot of people PR measurement and evaluation is a relatively new industry, what are you and other practitioners doing to create awareness?
We are doing campaigns, we are educating the industry. For example, we have a monthly tweet chat event where we speak to professionals both local and foreign and several audiences about measurement and evaluation, we have training sessions with the NIPR and we recently developed MATE+; a program to educate even more people about measurement and evaluation, you can check our website for more details. Yes, they might seem like baby steps at the moment, but we believe we are on the right track.
You recently launched a training program called MATE +, what is it all about?
MATE + is the measure|analyse|train|evaluate measurement and evaluation program aimed at training young and mid-level marketing and communications professionals in Nigeria. The program is designed to help close the knowledge and experience gap in media evaluation, by granting trainees access to classroom style training that build their capacity in the evaluation and analysis spectrum. The program will feature 6 granular modules across the marketing communication practice and participants will have the opportunity to choose courses relative to their profession.
Where do you see the industry in the next 5years?
I have always said that measurement and evaluation is destined for top management capacities; from the creative strategy sessions and the processes of determining results. The future of the measurement industry is an industry where measurement consultants are called in during the planning phase to help determine a scope for how to measure results of their campaigns on all platforms from the start. I believe we are on the right track as regards the creation of that ecosystem – a niche system that works in sync with other marketing communications functions while creating value for brands and consumers.