|July 28, 2010|
|Measurers Want PR Results? Try D.C.|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|Some 200 leaders of a half dozen U.S., U.K. and European PR groups met in Spain from June 10-18 to figure out ways to bust the chops of those who do PR.|
The meeting was organized by the International Assn. for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (amecorg.com).
They want proof that PR pros are bringing home any “bacon.” They have all sorts of scales, rulers, calipers, adding machines, gauges and meters—just about everything but an electron microscope—to track what PR people are up to.
We wonder if any of these measurers have a creative bone in their bodies.
Their favorite words are “clear goals” and “outcomes.”
They don’t care if a PR campaign got zillions of pickups. They especially don’t want it measured in terms of what the ad space would have cost.
This is madness because editorial mentions get many times the readership and many times the credibility of ads. It’s impossible to put an exact number on such things.
Their view also ignores the fact that many fields have several or even one dominant writer whose opinion is worth thousands of times the equivalent ad space. An example is tech contributing editor David Pogue of the New York Times (link, sub req'd).
Some PR pros concentrate on such writers knowing that many other writers in the category will follow that writer’s lead. Furthermore, if the product doesn’t sell, it’s the product’s fault in terms of price and quality and not PR’s fault.
All the big editorial contact services, including Cision ($200 million revenues), Vocus ($86M) and BurellesLuce (private) provide ad value equivalency (AVE) because their clients demand this.
Paine is 'Measurement Queen'
The measurers, led by Katie Paine of Berlin, N.H., whom they refer to as “the Measurement Queen,” declare that “AVE is not the Value of PR” as one of the seven main principles that emerged from the eight days in Barcelona.
Paine goes even further, demanding that PR firms and companies boycott any service that provides AVEs and that PR contest operators toss any entries that give AVEs.
It’s time to send in the people in white coats to this crowd.
Want Measurable Results? Look at Lobbying
Time magazine (July 12) had an excellent feature on the power of lobbyists written by Steven Brill, founder of The American Lawyer magazine.
The effect on legislation of lobbying, a sister or even subset of PR, is something that can be measured with a degree of accuracy.
Headline on the article is: “On Sale: Your Government. Why Lobbying Is Washington’s Best Bargain.”
Brill, writing about financial reform legislation, figures that the money managers spent about $15 million in lobbying to head off proposed increases in “carried interest,” a form of income at private-equity funds.
The money managers got about $10B in lower taxes on $100 billion in income over the next ten years for their $15M, according to Brill.
Senator Bernard Sanders (D.-Vt.) wrote in the New York Times April 24 that financial interests spent $5 billion in ten years to overturn the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 that separated regular from investment banking.
Brill gives several other examples of lobbying’s productivity, tracing its evolution from a “cottage industry” in the 1980s to its current size of 1,900 firms with 11,000 registered lobbyists.
Total size of the lobbying industry in D.C. has been estimated at about 240,000 employees.
Lobbying spending went from $1.5B in 1998 to $3.49B as of 2009.
Brill says winning a congressional seat will probably cost about $1.5M in 2010 and much of this money will come from “business interests related to each member’s committee assignments.”
In a court of law, says David Arkush of Congress Watch, this would be like “lawyers and clients donating to the jury.”
Lobbyists are even more effective at the state level, says Brill. “The state legislatures are corporate-lobbying playgrounds that make Capital Hill seem pristine.”
PR Pros: Get Thee to D.C.
It’s no wonder that National Capital is the biggest chapter in PR Society of America, almost twice as big as New York.
NCC has 1,143 members but has more than 1,300 members it its area. That gives it 14 Assembly delegates.
New York has 688 members and about 900 in its area.
The New York chapter had more than 1,200 members in the 1960s.
Working for a legislator at the local level and then moving the state capital and then to D.C. is an excellent career route for PR grads.
The pattern in D.C. is for congressional staffers to work a year or two and then move to much higher paying jobs in the lobbying community.
Average tenure of congressional staffers is about two years, according to LegisStorm.
Top lobbyists make from $1M to $4M annually and the pay of senior staffers is $200,000 or more.
Some 2,000 lobbyists were working on financial reform and 1,400 of them were either congressional or executive branch staffers and 73 were members of Congress, said the Center for Responsive Politics and the Congress Watch unit of Public Citizen.
Yeatman Moves to D.C.
As an indication of the importance of D.C., Perry Yeatman, Senior VP of corporate affairs of Kraft, is shifting her office from Chicago to D.C. in September (link, sub req'd).
She said that none of her corporate duties are being diminished but that she is adding D.C. to her responsibilities.
She and her husband and daughter will move from outside Chicago to Annapolis.
Irene Rosenfeld, Kraft CEO, stressed the importance of the corporate affairs department to Kraft, saying the department had progressed to a “great corporate affairs team” and was the “secret weapon” of the company.
It played a key role in Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury of the U.K. earlier this year, she told the Arthur W. Page Society.
Rosenfeld, in returning to Kraft in 2006 after an absence of three and a half years, had suspended press interviews for the first seven months while she toured corporate offices and met with staff.
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