This week, in Washington D.C., Obama signed the health carebill. I was there, too. Not to support or oppose said legislation, but toattend PRNewsPR Measurement Conference. Talk about a historic day. Though I wouldn’t saythis gathering was characterized by debate, it was certainly evidentthat there is a shift in the role of communications, PR especially, as itimpacts business.

The most compelling information of the day, in thisblogger’s opinion, was Johna Burke, Katie Paine and Anthony Sanzio providing asolid argument for research in the role of communications. Research is aboutprocess, from beginning to end. It doesn’t wait until a program is complete,and it isn’t presented with logos from leading (or targeted) publications.Research is about asking questions… and the language is changing.

Having an analytic personality, I love change! It signals areason to ask questions, observe and engage. Examples from our peers andcolleagues demonstrate that measurement has value and is not conducted formeasurement’s sake. Data is for more than those reading the reports. Forexample, over and over we heard that advertisingvalue equivalency (AVE) has been banned by IPR Commission (PDF), yetpresentation after presentation AVE examples were provided as a result, howeverdownplayed.

If “research” gives you the impression of lab coats,unreadable charts and graphs and high dollar amounts, I can understand yourapprehension to including this approach in your program. There were slightgasps from the audience when asked if there was a dedicated staff researchperson (note singular) and giggles following the paltry number of hands raised.

As PR professionals, we’re conducting research every day.We’re learning what works and what doesn’t and adjusting our approachaccordingly. It’s the discipline of sharing that information with our teams andclients that makes it research. It’s a guided analytical approach to strategicplanning. And it’s why Airfoil believes “what gets measured gets done.”

— Jennifer Becker