Glue sticks. The early elementary school classroom staple, a home craft drawer constant and a PR coordinator’s must-have. Yes, that little stick was a timesaver when I was in my early days of public relations. Learning the ropes, one of my jobs was to compile the clip books for my clients. Real newspaper clippings arrived daily in overstuffed, unmistakable white and blue envelopes from Burrelle’s. I remember spending hours gluing and pasting clip by white tabbed clip, until my hands were sticky and black with ink. On occasion I even brought a box of clips home to my little studio in Brookline, MA so I could tally the circulations and begin assembling the books. These books were the only measurement tools we used to prove our worth to clients.
Fast forward 25+ years and measuring and evaluating a public relations campaign’s impact has gone far beyond the glue stick method. With print, broadcast, online and social media platforms in play how best does an agency accurately report and analyze coverage? We know applying advertising value equivalents is an outdated exercise but even within the PR industry there is not one tried and true method. Back in 2010, the measurement folks adopted the Barcelona Principles, a set of guidelines meant to give the industry one standard measurement rule to follow. Still a bit confusing and slow to be adopted, they updated them again last year. But I bet there are only a handful of agencies that even think about them when making a new business pitch and even fewer potential clients who would know what they are. However, they are worth reading (www.prsa.org) whether for the first time or as a refresher. More importantly, we need to starting implementing and adapting them in order to truly showcase the benefits of public relations and demonstrate the extensive value we bring to the table.
Besides, my glue sticks are all dried-up.