The science and the art of being a media practitioner was lost on me when I wrote my first by-line more than 10 years ago. But now I know it’s all about the money, money, money. While I would love to design campaigns that scare company accountants and sip champagne at events like the good old days, I’m much more aware of how I need to prove the value of my output and conclusively demonstrate my being busy has an impact on the strategic outcomes of the business.
Whether it is circulation figures, brand recognition, media coverage, website traffic, conversions rates, leads/sales generation, open rates, impressions, views or engagement numbers, I have to justify the return on investment (ROI) of PR. The new dirty question nobody wants to hear, “What is the ROI of that?”
With that at the back of my mind, I then ask myself how the creative work I produce serves to answer that question. We are always looking for better tools and technology to automate the processes, but with more content coming at us and we being the producers of more how often do we really take a step back to analyse the data. Metrics is a part of our communications plans, company reports and often the deciding factor to whether a team survives but do we use the figures in a way that serves us.
In 2019 the conversation about income generation for public sector communication teams is only going to intensify. We will be looking at borrowing from our forward-thinking counterparts but also the private sector. As someone who has worked for commercially driven organisations, yielding results and hitting targets is part and parcel to how things work.
As it is AMEC measurement month, I thought I would share a piece of work I was a part of and how vital measurement and evaluation of communication was in that case. It is a different example. While I could have focused on the press coverage earned I thought I would share something that is a unique experience for me.
I have had the immense privilege of observing global elections as part of the Election observation missions (EUEOMs). In 2016 I was the assistant media analyst and press officer. The mission, which comprised of a core team, long-term observers and short-term observers from the EU Member States, was led by Eduard Kukan, a Member of the European Parliament from Slovakia.
As part of my role, I supervised a team of media monitors who measured election coverage. We then had to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the electoral process and to verify its compliance with domestic laws and regional and international commitments for democratic elections to which Uganda has subscribed.
Media monitoring is a critical component in shaping the agenda and affects policy, governance and democratic processes. In this case, the EU EOM media monitoring report along with the African Centre for Media Excellence ACME was used by the nine justices of the Supreme Court in the case Amama Mbabazi v Museveni & Ors (PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION PETITION NO. O1 OF 2016)  UGSC 3 (31 March 2016). It was the evidence that was used to make recommendations to change the media laws as it pertains to elections and media coverage, especially for state-owned media.
Data can tell an exciting story, but real people are being influenced by the messages that the media producers and the way election campaigns are crafted by candidates and their camps. This was amplified at the 2016 US elections. Everyone wants their message to penetrate the noise and hit the highest numbers.
The media has immense power in the electoral process because of the speed and reach, but this also makes them a target. This is concerning in countries where press freedom is respected and also where these rights are not.