Friday, 25 June 2010


Guestpost by Richard Houghton FPRCA, President of ICCO, and Ex-Chairman of the PRCA

It’s more than 11 years since I was the PRCA representative on the first PR Planning and Evaluation Toolkit, a joint publication with the CIPR. An online version PREFix followed and there are now more books, guides and websites on how to evaluate campaigns than you can count.

Despite the level and quality of information available I think it fair to say that evaluation of PR campaigns is by no means ubiquitous and that in many case advertising value equivalents (AVEs) are the sole measure used, despite their obvious failings.

Last week in Barcelona at the 2nd European Summit on Measurement 150 measurement and PR professionals may have taken the first steps to making PR evaluation a core part of all campaigns.

The main participants in the Summit Principles debate - the Global Alliance for Public Relations, the IPR's Commission on Measurement and Evaluation, the PRSA, the ICCO and the US Research Agency Leaders Chapter of AMEC – helped to create the seven key principles of evaluation that were endorsed at the conference These were that:.

1. Goal setting and measurement are important

2. Media measurement requires quantity and quality

3. AVEs are not the Value of Public Relations
- Do not measure the value of PR or future activity
- Where comparisons are made validated metrics should be used
- Multipliers should never be applied unless proven to exist

4. Social media can and should be measured

5. Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results (outputs)

6. Organisational results and outcomes should be measured whenever possible

7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement

What does this mean to PRCA members?

We’ve gone on record endorsing the principles as an important starting point for achieving two things. Firstly, we want to drive acceptance that evaluation of PR campaigns is crucial for the planning of future campaigns and demonstrating value.

Secondly, we are looking for wide understanding and acceptance that not all measurement methods are equal and that there are some basic requirements that need to be met for the evaluation process to be successful.

The PRCA’s Best Practice Committee, chaired by Alison Clark of Huntsworth has evaluation as one of its top priorities and we will continue to develop the PRCA’s services in this area including training, tools and best practice.

On the vexed question of AVEs, my view is that if clients want them, then most consultancies will provide them. But at the same time the failings of the method should be highlighted and every effort should be made to provide alternative and comparable evaluation methods that are relevant to other ROI measures used by the client.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Launching the PR Council

Today is a big day for the PRCA. It's the day we announce the composition of the PR Council.

The Council includes some of the most respected and well-known names in PR, and it will genuinely be a pleasure to hear their views on the issues facing the industry, and on the work of the PRCA.

In a sign of how engaged our membership now is, over two-thirds of members cast their votes in the week they had available to do so. I know that rate is pretty impressive by the standards of any membership body -in fact, it exceeds turnout at last month's general election!

It's important also to note the structural change. For the first time in our 41 years of existence, the PRCA's governance procedures involve in-house practitioners. That is a major change, and is good news for the PRCA, our members and the broader industry we represent.

I see this development as just the latest stage in the PRCA's renaissance. Over the past two and a bit years, we have more than doubled our agency membership; we have successfully opened our ranks to in-house practitioners; we have become the most vocal advocate and defender of the PR industry; and we have -I hope- transformed the services we offer to members.

It's all part of our drive for continuous improvement. And we have much, much more planned.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Women in PR group opens talks with PRCA

Guest post by Gillian Waddell, MD of Fuel PR and President of Women in PR (WPR) group.

WPR is a well-established industry organisation with just under 50 years of providing uniquely informal networking opportunities for a diverse group of experienced PR professionals at varying stages of their careers. Linking with CIPR some 5 years ago provided an opportunity to widen the membership. However, the twinning of a background of well-known CIPR issues together with individual members' varying concerns has encouraged us to re-consider our compatibility as a CIPR sectoral group. We are aware that a number of our members value much of CIPR's overall offer, and will want to continue to benefit from this, but our success as a group lies in maintaining characteristics such as informality, fun and flexibility within the context of independent responsibility and integrity.

The decision to leave CIPR has not been taken quickly or lightly. We have spent a good deal of time over the past year discussing the various issues, both with our members and CIPR. We have encouraged debate about the future of WPR, and our AGM in February resulted in a decision to hold an EGM to specifically discuss the overall question of our future direction as a group. The result of this was our decision to resign from CIPR, to continue as a group, and to continue with talks with PRCA with regards to how we might link together.

PRCA is held in high regard by many of our members, some of whom are members, some of whom are not. PRCA is widely recognised to potentially offer a "great new home" for WPR - it has a terrific reputation amongst the industry for providing standards of best practice professionalism and integrity within a framework of responsible entrepreneurial, energetic and enthusiastic "PR spirit". We think there could be many benefits to both parties in terms of linking.

There's obviously been lively debate about the recent decision/activity. We understand the decision may not be welcome news to CIPR, but we want to thank them for their support over the past 5 years, and to support those who want to continue with their individual membership of CIPR. We are however committed to a new future which resonates closely with our intents and members.

We are grateful to PRCA for the opportunity to talk, consider ways we can link, and to encourage the means by which our organisation can continue to flourish as a platform for wide-ranging industry individuals at all stages of their professional careers to come together within a unique spirit of co-operation, friendly interaction and support.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

LGcommunications Conference - Leeds 2010

Guest post by David Holdstock, Chair of LGcommunications and Head of Corporate Communications at London Borough of Hillingdon.

As the changing political and economic landscape brings tough new challenges, local government communicators need to communicate more effectively and learn from leaders in the industry.

This new era of austerity is going to impact on all of us and it made this year's LGcommunications conference, held in Leeds last week, the most important conference for public sector communicators in the last five years - maybe the last decade.

With nearly 400 delegates, more than 50 speakers and a range of best practice seminars, the clear message was that communicators have a key role to play in helping to shape the way organisations respond to the tough decisions ahead. Some have grasped the initiative and communications is already driving a huge amount of transformation in local government. In other areas, there is still some way to go. It is clear that as professional communicators, we need to work with leadership teams as improving reputation is a collective challenge. If we work with our senior teams to provide strong leadership, if we have a clear sense of purpose and deliver strategic, cost-effective communications, then we can rise to the challenge.

The centerpiece of the conference was the launch of the new LGcommunications/Local Government Association reputation campaign, which focuses on three key themes - Leadership, branding and communications. These need to be at the heart of every local authority communications outfit if we are going to be able to deliver value for money services and an enhanced reputation for local government in the current climate. It provides the framework for local government communicators to deliver improved reputation and ultimately increase resident satisfaction.

We also announced at the conference a new strategic partnership between LGcommunications and the PRCA. This offers an exclusive and unique arrangement for LGcommunications members who sign up as in-house members. This will add new training and development opportunities for LGcommunications’ members, namely exclusive discounted rates on PRCA face to face training and unlimited free online training, but also links to professional networks that members may otherwise not be able to access. Real benefits for in-house PR professionals in the public sector.

As professional communicators we are in a powerful and in many ways, unique position. We should no longer be going to our chief executives asking for additional money and resources. Instead, we should be going with solutions of how we can help our organisations meet the financial and political challenges that lie ahead for all of us.