Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Why it is unethical and unhealthy for PR agencies to mark their own homework - Philip Odiakose


First Independent Communications/PR measurement agency in Nigeria, P+ Measurement Services recently set a new feat by becoming the first member of the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) in the country. In a chat with BrandArena, Philip Odiakose, Lead Consultant of the firm spoke on the benefit of being AMEC member and why it is unethical, unhealthy and unprofessional for PR agencies to mark their own homework.

Excerpt:

Communications/PR measurement is very key to the growth of any business. How well is this practice in Nigeria?

I will begin by stating the meaning of AMEC, AMEC is the International “Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication”. The PR measurement practice is a budding industry in Nigeria. Brands are gradually warming up to the idea that value measurement is a core aspect of every marketing communications campaign. Benchmarking has become more important, PR measurement is gradually taking center stage and definitely trend setting will complete the revolution for future performances of businesses and brands and we are glad that P+ is at the forefront of this evolution in the Nigerian business space.

In South Africa they have an Independent Association called SAMMA (South African Media Monitoring and Measurement Association) governing the Monitoring and Measurement consultant. There are no independent associations in Nigeria for the consultants in Nigeria, that is the reason PR agencies can take Independent monitoring briefs; which is unethical, unhealthy and unprofessional for an agency to mark their own homework. It is not right for you to be the accused, the judge and jury of your work”.

Can you expatiate more on that?

From my experience in the IMC industry, I can tell you that sometimes, agencies trim down on the negative report in order to look good in the eyes of the brand owners. Especially if the story is being published in one of the second tier publications that they feel doesn't matter. That is why part of the service we also provide to our clients is crises management advisory. We understand the behaviour of the online media; we have monitored them and their feeders for a long time to know how to engage them when we want to.

As Lead Consultant at P+, how do you feel becoming the first member of AMEC in Nigeria?

We are excited to be the first member of AMEC in Nigeria. We are also happy to be the first Independent Communications/PR measurement agency in Nigeria. Our drive has been to improve the value proposition of brands so as to create an environment where brands can improve their services after reviewing the results of their campaigns. We want PR agencies to start seeing Independent Communications measurement agencies as partners (friends) rather than foes as our work helps to reflect the effectiveness of their activities.

We look forward to becoming a member of FIBEP, FIBEP is the world’s media intelligence federation with over 120 corporate members employing over 13,857 people in over 60 countries.

Due to the harsh economic situation of the country, many brand owners have been cutting cost on marketing communications, how has that affected P+?

The economic situation has affected brands no doubt, but we have been able to play a vital role in the growth of several brands even in this recession. A communications manager once said “if I had my last penny to choose between a PR agency and a PR measurement agency, I will choose a PR measurement agency, because I’m a communications person so I can still handle the PR for my brand, but I won’t want to take the risk of evaluating and measuring my own homework as I tend to be biased naturally”. We have proved through this period of recession that our consistent services are valuable to our clients by constantly providing them with access to information about their brands and supplementary information about the economic situation ,so the effect on us has been minimal.

Tell us briefly about some of the things P+ has done so far this year?

As new entrants into the Nigerian market, we proud of some of the work we’ve been able to do this year. We have provided PR measurement and media monitoring for clients locally and internationally across diverse industries ranging from financial institution, airlines, mobile technology, politics and government, tourism and resorts (South Africa), beverages and regional carnivals. It is evident that there is a market for P+’s services in the Nigerian business landscape as we have been able to build trust of multinationals, government and PR agencies in less than 2 years of our operation.

P+ has been one of the fastest growing agencies that offer PR measurement service in the country. Where do you see P+ in the next 5 years?

In the next five years I see an industry where brands will put a stop to the practice of allowing PR agencies to handle their media monitoring and reportage, an industry where professionalism is paramount and one in which P+ is bringing in new innovations to help PR agencies and communications managers implement the new public relations measurement standard of the industry.

Lastly, what are your thoughts about the future of Communication/PR measurement generally? And what does being a member of AMEC mean for P+ as  a young agency?

AMEC membership is internationally representative, with members in over 48 different countries, providing an opportunity to network and do business across borders which P+ happens to be the only member in Nigeria currently.

I have always said that measurements and evaluations are destined for top management capacities; from the creative strategy sessions and the processes of determining results. The future of the measurement industry is an industry where measurement consultants are called in during the planning phase to help determine a scope for how to measure results of their campaigns on all platforms from the start.

We are gradually leading the evolution by monitoring 26 print publications daily and 71 print publications in total within Lagos, part of the south, east and west; Knowing fully well that it is impossible to do selective monitoring and provide a competitive analysis report for brands. Timeliness stand us out in the industry, as our daily report get’s to clients as early as 5am around the clock (first of its kind in Nigeria), every communication/PR directors and managers want to see their daily media highlights when they are still on the bed or on their way to work; that’s what P+ provide.

We received testimonies from clients, that “our timely daily report has helped them to make quick management decisions”. P+ is a believer of the human analysis report as against  machine generated reports, we currently subscribe to 3 online media monitoring tools for near real time monitoring for our clients, but we do not allow the tools to generate reports for us because when measurement is built into a news monitoring platform the general metrics used can be a horrible reflection of your actual impact, Studies have revealed that automated measurement can be, at best, 55% accurate at times. So here you have to ask yourself, can I afford to be wrong almost half the time?

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