Archive for the ‘Institute for Public Relations’ Category

Recently, I undertook research with Dr Chindu Sreedharan, for the Institute of Public Relations on the skills and training needs of future senior communicators. It was a study amongst top corporate and consultancy communicators in Europe and North America to identify the skills future leaders needed, and training and education to prepare them. A video of my presentation of the report was recently made for the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

One of the key comments that framed the study came from a top European corporate communicator: “It’s no longer sufficient to have a communications background only. Senior communicators need to understand business environment and management styles to be seen as trusted advisors.”

This view that top-level communicators had to understand all the operations of a major organisation was widespread and pointed towards practice developments and education that focus on strategy development and the integration of communication objectives with organisational objectives and KPIs.  The report had three groups of conclusions for early implementation:


  • Communication strategy must be linked to or part of business strategy
  • Communicators should understand the whole business environment, not just media and communication
  • Operational experience needed; They need to speak language of the business

 Training and Education

  • Key subjects are business strategy, financial literacy, economics, public affairs and public diplomacy, and relationship management
  • Stronger focus is needed on research and business analysis skills

 Proof of Performance

  • The ability to interpret and apply the most appropriate research methods is more important than technical measurement skills
  • Evaluation frameworks need to be developed for judgement on organisational impact, not clip measurement
  • Planning skills need improvement

 The full report is available at:


This is a last call for your views on the use of the term, Return on Investment (ROI), in PR. I’m researching into practitioner use and understanding of ROI and will report on my findings to PR Moment’s ROI Conference in London on March 3 and at the International PR Research Conference in Miami a week later. It will also be reported on this blog.

I’ve prepared a short survey (just click through to it) which takes 10 minutes to complete. Already, early data responses are showing up some strong differences between areas of practices and on specific propositions.

As ROI is often a judgement on communication effectiveness, I hope you will take part in this very relevant study. Comments and feedback are welcome, too.

I have just started a research project for the Institute for Public Relations, sponsored by Coca-Cola, on the skills and competencies needed for senior corporate communicators and PR advisors, looking five to 10 years ahead.

Here’s the URL to the Institute for Public Relations website on which I discuss current communication scenarios and the future needs for developing top communicators. What’s your view on this?

If you have used PR research and measurement extensively in one of your PR campaigns this past year, you should consider entering the Jack Felton Golden Ruler Award for Excellence in PR Measurement & Evaluation

Entries of all types are welcome – including research using social media!  The award recognises superb examples of research used to support public relations practice. Winners are feted at the Institute for Public Relations’ Summit on Measurement in October held at Portsmouth, NH, near Boston in the US, and it’s quite a big deal. But hurry!  Entries are due on Saturday, August 15. 

Here’s How to Enter, and see these examples of previous winners’ entries: Padilla Speer Beardsley’s Winning Entry 2007 or Shell’s Award Winning Entry 2008 for ideas – and there are more on the site. 

By the way, the Award was named for Jack Felton, who was formerly CEO of the Institute for PR, and instrumental in creating the Commission on PR Measurement & Evaluation.  He is highly respected and much loved throughout the industry worldwide.

I have been involved in discussion recently on the formation of an Evaluation Standard for government PR. It has brought together PR consultancies, evaluation providers and government communicators to seek consensus on the subject.

My role as the token academic has been to prepare discussion papers and facilitate discussion. To set the basis for discussion, I asked everyone to agree definitions for key metrics of PR evaluation such as Opportunities to See, Prominence of Mention, Reach, Tone, Effectiveness and Results. We used the IPR’s Dictionary of Public Relations Measurement and Evaluation, edited by Prof Don Stacks, for this. Despite its cross-Atlantic pedigree, everyone agreed with the definitions.

The reasoning behind this initiative is that government, in its many forms, is a major purchaser of media analysis from commercial suppliers. It wants a ‘level playing field’ of metrics so that comparisons can be made between campaigns and also between methods of communication. For advertising and direct marketing, it has a bank of common metrics used but, for PR, media evaluation suppliers provide different bases of analysis either via algorithms or ‘PR value’ calculations. The dreaded Advertising Value Equivalence is also used in some circumstances, which is an interesting concept suggesting that governmental communications is related to revenue generation. So it is a bit of a muddle.

The first stage of discussion has been positive and we await the next stage. So my question is what would you include in a set of standard PR evaluation benchmarks?

Have we already identified the key terms or should measurements like ‘volume of articles’, ‘event attendees’, ‘behaviour change metrics’ and ROI be included? There are many other factors that could be considered at Output, Out-Take or Outcome levels. Your views are welcomed!

“Those aware of the social media research landscape know that several studies have indicated social media has overtaken pornography as the number one use of the internet,” is a headline from the fourth annual study on the impact of social media on the practice of public relations by Prof Don Wright of Boston University and Michelle Hinson for the Institute for Public Relations.


When presenting this finding at the IPRRC in Miami, the audience collapsed into laughter but it got the essential message that social media is here to stay and of rapidly increasing importance. The study researches opinions of PR practitioners, mostly in the US and Canada, but also from four other continents.


Other headlines were:


§  Traditional news media receive higher scores from PR practitioners than blogs and social media in terms of accuracy, credibility, telling the truth and being ethical

§  73% of practitioners believe blogs and social media have changed the way their organisations or clients communicate

§  85% believe social media complement traditional news media

§  92% think blogs and social media influence coverage in traditional news media.

§  88% believe blogs and social media have made communications more instantaneous

§  93% of this year’s respondents spent part of their average workdays with some aspects of social media.


All these results are increases from last year’s report.


For a longer discussion of the paper and the full report, go to:


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Tom Watson

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