Thursday, February 23, 2012

IPR to drive standards for PR research and measurement

The Institute for PR (IPR) is doing the right thing again. Somebody has to grapple with the discomforting fact that while public relations has been around for a century (at least in the way we know it now), PR research gets little respect from the very people who need it most. IPR has as its motto, "The Science Beneath the Art of Public Relations." Good idea, but the fact is that most of the practice of PR is an art, at best, and a science rarely. So kudos to IPR for getting the ball rolling in the development of an articulation of standards for PR research and measurement.

It's concerning, however, that the effort seems focused around getting a coalition together to come up with agreement in principle (a coalition of IPR, the Council of PR Firms, AMEC, and PRSA). I'd much rather see evidence of the board members of those associations, the PR agency and corporate members, coalesce around their publicly stated commitment to base their PR practice on the proposed standards. Having a group of academics, researchers, and association executives (my friends, all) agree on standards won't, in the end, do much, if the PR agency and corporate PR executives don't walk the walk.

"PR research" -- if it is a science, and if the other marketing disciplines will ever take us seriously -- cannot be a PR ruse for covering the fundamentally unscientific practices that are what most people who work in PR do every day. The IPR effort must be, and I'm confident it ultimately will be, a sound move in the direction of helping PR carve out its 21st century identity (just for one example, see Paul Roetzer's new book, The Marketing Agency Blueprint: The Handbook for Building Hybrid PR, SEO, Content, Advertising, and Web Firms.)

Events worth watching. Hoping for the best.