Today, we bring you Measurement Monday and the first installment of a three-part series from guest blogger Angela Jeffrey.

I wonder how many years have passed since PR practitioners have been begging for a standard set of metrics by which to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns? Eons, it seems. The result? Hundreds of service providers now offer secret sauces and black-box solutions that obfuscate the real results of any given PR or social media campaign. Worse, it is nigh impossible to compare measurement results from one vendor to the next.

Well, good news! At long last, answers are on their way thanks to a cross-industry collaboration of PR trade bodies; social media analytics; advertising and word-of-mouth associations; and a handful of blue-chip client companies. 

The Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission has recently issued a new microsite, which houses some initial standards that are available now for public comment. The “Proposed Interim Standards for Metrics in Traditional Media Analysis” is a must-read for all account and client types.


Andy Polansky, outgoing Chair of the Council of Public Relations Firms, (of which Janet Tyler, co-CEO of Airfoil, is a board member), recently wrote of his enthusiasm about this major standardization effort: “We’re collaborating with several leading industry associations to create standard metrics that we hope will benefit the entire public relations profession. These standard metrics will benefit the profession by enabling comparison, increasing data reliability, promoting efficiency, and bringing more credibility to public relations.” 

It’s worth noting that all this new work on standardization follows the establishment of the AMEC Barcelona Principles in 2010 and the AMEC Valid Metrics Framework in 2011, both of which established preliminary methods for measuring across social and traditional media. 

While standardization is important for all media across the board, the real news is centered on social media metrics in six key areas (listed below). The #SMMStandards Conclave, the sub-group working on social media, published its first “interim standard” this past summer (see #1 below). Standards #2 and #3 were discussed this fall during a second Conclave meeting in New Hampshire, (in which I was pleased to participate). The remaining standards are still being hashed out. To weigh-in on the standards-to-date, go to:

  1. Content Sourcing & Methods
  2. Reach & Impressions
  3. Engagement
  4. Influence & Relevance
  5. Opinion & Advocacy
  6. Impact & Value

Since there is much to share on each of the six categories above, this post will just address the first one with follow-up posts on the remainder.

#1 Content Sourcing & Methods
(Note: This Standard is virtually published and available for use)

Not all content venues, aggregators and analysts are created equal, so all social media measurement reports should include a standard “content sourcing and methodology” table to let clients know “what’s on the inside.” The new Sources & Methods Transparency Table is the ideal solution and acts like a “nutrition label” for food. It captures critical information like: What content and channels are included? How is the data collected? How deep is the analysis? Are multiple languages captured? Are they captured via native-language queries? How are key metrics calculated for reach, engagement, influence and opinion/advocacy? How is sentiment coded? How is irrelevant content (bots, spam blogs, etc.) filtered? What proprietary methods were used in the analysis? What search strings were used? While it may take years for measurement suppliers to learn to report this information to clients, clients should start demanding it right now!

About the Conclave

The #SMMStandards Conclave was formed in 2011 to bring together various associations and perspectives working on social media measurement standards. The organizations include the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communications (AMEC), Council of PR Firms (CPRF), Digital Analytics Association (DAA), Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Chartered Institute of PR (CIPR), Federation Internationale des Bureaux d’Extraits de Presse (FIBEP), Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management, Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) and the Media Ratings Council. Client participants include research and communication leaders from Dell, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, SAS, Southwest Airlines and Thomson Reuters, as well as many major communications agencies.

Angela Jeffrey is founder of, a high-level consultancy that helps clients create PR and social media measurement strategies and identify suitable service providers. She is also a member of the Institute for Public Relations Measurement Commission, and is senior counsel to CARMA International.