Monday, July 18, 2005

Can we talk?

So, I read in a recent issue of PR News about a new approach to measurement that would help practitioners have a better sense of their company's or client's "share of discussion." We would accomplish this feat - gasp - by finding more detailed ways to measure media coverage. Ugh. Why is it that whenever we discuss measurement we make it sound harder and harder? Maybe I missed a meeting, but the last time I looked up the definition of discussion it involved two parties that were, well, TALKING about an issue. Some of my more academically inclined friends might call that two-way symmetrical communication. Can we really say that media placements foster discussion? Granted if your client is Tom Cruise perhaps the answer is yes. And maybe even the coverage of Oprah travails at Hermes might count, maybe. Truth is even if media does sometimes inspire discussion is that consistently meaningful if our clients or our companies are not participants in the process? I don't think so. Folks, we need to find better ways to communicate above the media filter and find ways for our clients and companies to be active participants in discussion that impacts the way they do business - blogs, for example - but what about good old fashioned town hall meetings or dinners? Dialogue, discussion, debate - that's what we need. And we need a way to measure the outcome of all that. Building a better mousetrap for measuring media coverage to me doesn't sound like the answer, but I could be wrong.