I recently had the opportunity to speak at PRNews’ Emerging Communicators Workshop and was very encouraged that measurement and analytics featured as such a prominent part of the agenda. The group was engaged, curious and thoughtful in their desire to learn more – their very attendance was a commitment to growing the fundamental skills needed for a successful career in PR.
At the same time, I was disappointed that this “encouraged” me. I thought, aren’t we past this? Of course we all know that PR and marketing are converging, don’t we? At least within our industry, we understand the role of analytics in proving the value of PR, right?
The fact is we don’t and our emerging communicators face a significant, and in my opinion damaging, knowledge gap. If as an industry we want to deliver our best work to clients, and create the best career experiences for those we work with, closing this gap is vital.
At its core, PR is about building and nurturing audience. As brands increasingly seek to partner with agencies that can work seamlessly across disciplines, it’s essential that PR agencies advocate relentlessly for effective measurement and metrics to prove the value of their work – beyond shelfware reporting, ad-value equivalence and share of voice, which are limiting in countless ways that you can read more about here (include link to eBook “How to Measure the Value of PR in the 21st Century.)
Yet if these are the methods our emerging communicators are being trained to use, we fail them (and our clients) in reimagining the impact of measurement and analysis in PR.
Consider this: a quick review of Linkedin shows over 97,000 professionals that are or have worked as Account Coordinators in Agencies. Yet, only 170 of them reference a skillset around data science; only 545 include any mention of marketing analytics and a mere 5,000 tout any knowledge of Google Analytics:
So only 5% of this population highlight the fundamental measurement skills that are at the very heart of PR and marketing today.
And let me be clear, the fault does not lie solely with the individual. Closing this skill gap requires a more concerted effort to incorporate marketing analytics into the curriculum at the university and graduate level; a thoughtful investment in training and development within agencies where folks are starting their careers; an industry-level dialogue around the importance, and potential, of marketing analysis within PR; and, finally the commitment of the individual to developing the skills that will make them the strongest PR practitioner they can be.
As an industry it’s time we work together to close this gap and finally set aside the age-old joke that “people go into PR because they don’t like math.” Math is driving PR today and I think there’s never been a better time to be starting a career in PR.