The Institute for Public Relations (IPR), an independent foundation dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations, and other industry leaders recently announced a new coalition to create a broad platform of standards and best practices for public relations research, measurement and evaluation. The initial partners include the Council of Public Relations Firms (CPRF), the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). David Geddes, Ph.D., chair of IPR’s Measurement Commission, will chair the coalition. "We know that clients, both external and internal, are asking for industry practitioners to develop, recommend and apply best practices, common definitions and measurement standards," said Geddes in a news release. "If we do not do this ourselves, be prepared for clients and their purchasing departments to do it for us." The standards platform will provide a master framework that can be applied across public relations activities including traditional media relations, corporate communications and social media. The coalition will bring together the views of clients, agencies, research providers and thought leaders. Focused standards-setting efforts are already underway among some of the initial coalition partners, and those efforts will continue as elements of a broader platform. "Many organizations are working on pieces of this puzzle," said Amy Binder, CEO of RF|Binder and an IPR trustee and CPRF board member, in the release. "The coalition seeks to bring all of that together to provide consistent measurement processes regardless of the topic or type of communication vehicle."
The coalition will identify specific areas in need of standards and best practices, and build working groups to develop recommendations. This work will follow procedures recommended by the International Standards Organization for developing consensus on voluntary industry-wide standards.
The coalition began with the IPR Board of Trustees, which voted the initiative into existence in November 2011. The steering committee will include such notable research leaders as Geddes, David Michaelson, principal, David Michaelson & Company LLC and chair, IPR Research Fellows, John Gilfeather, executive vice president, Koski Research and past chair of the Council of American Survey Research Organizations and Philippe Sadron, director of research, RF|Binder Partners.
"Public relations is a vital part of private and public sector reputation management, community building and marketing communication. Creating universally accepted measures to gauge the performance of communications programs will be an important part of our industry’s continued growth" said Kathy Cripps, president of CPRF, in the release.
"Raising standards and sharing knowledge are fundamental to the Global Alliance’s mission, and nowhere are standards more elusive than in measurement," said Daniel Tisch, chair of the Global Alliance, in the release. "As a confederation of the world’s major industry associations, we believe the pursuit of new standards in audience research and program measurement can enable the elevation of communication as a profession."
"Variation in research practices can lead to confusion among clients — who are the customers for research, measurement, and evaluation," said William Murray, president and chief operating officer of PRSA.
"Standards facilitate comparative evaluation of individual programs and specific program elements. Standards also harmonize definitions and methods, allowing research professionals to focus instead on research, measurement and evaluation design, and delivering critical insights to clients," said Mike Daniels, chairman of AMEC.