A few days ago, I accompanied a few colleagues to an important pitch for a global public relations program on behalf of a prominent market leader on which we had been feverishly working for the three preceding weeks..
We went through the whole proposal and, at the very end, the Ceo asked:
‘ok, this is all very fine and dandy, but how would you estimate the impact of all this on our bottom line?’.
Mind you, the question was not
‘how would you go about evaluating or measuring the efficiency or the effectiveness of what you propose we do?’, but simply
‘how would you estimate its impact on our bottom line?’.
Of course, the first temptation (typical of the seasoned public relations professionals) was to reply by reformulating his original question…. and then argue the astonishing rise of the public relations measurement and evaluation industry and the more or less sophisticated methods, processes and tools which have been recently developed.
But my interlocutor, very civilised yes!, but who had also followed years ago with me a course to help stressed leaders reply what they wish, rather than to the specific question raised….without the interlocutor realizing it… would have stopped me after the first minute and said:
‘but this is not what I had asked….’.
So I abruptly said +10%!
He looked at me in awe and went on to another question.
I am not sure if this response was partly responsible for us losing the pitch, but I imagine it somehow contributed.
But, what would you have responded?
Of course, before replying, you would need to know more (the client, the product, the competitive scenario, the program…).
But I am afraid you do not know more, while a prompt reply is expected..
Of course I also would have liked to ask him:
‘What is the overall value of your company? How do you arrive at that evaluation? How much of that value would you attribute to the reputation of the brand? How much of that value would you attribute to the quality of your stakeholder relationships? And, by the way, how do you evaluate the return of your current investments in human resources, finance, marketing, research and development, procurement, production…?’.
But this was not in the cards.
What do you say?
Maybe this incident might help us clarify those increasingly muddy waters in the intersection between evaluation and measurement and return on investment…