Last month, leading communicators gathered in New York City at the PRSA and PRIME Research Strategic Corporate Communications and Research Conference to share how public relations professionals can improve their return on investment by using strategic research approaches. The speaker lineup featured several Institute for Public Relations (IPR) representatives.

GE Uses Research to Protect Reputation, Enhance Culture & Drive Change

Gary Sheffer
IPR Treasurer and General Electric Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs, Gary Sheffer presented “GE’s 15-Year Journey: Using Research to Protect Reputation, Enhance Culture and Drive Change.” In his opening keynote presentation, Sheffer listed five areas in which communicators should focus:

1. Driving for meaningful metrics
2. Using metrics to make strategic decisions
3. Getting comfortable with data
4. Partnering with marketing for commercial impact
5. Using metrics purposefully to build an authentic enterprise.

“We must relentlessly drive for meaningful metrics,” Sheffer said. “We need to come together to identify and agree on what determines meaningful metrics, and create a standard measurement system across all programs and campaigns to deliver consistent, comparable data. Our credibility depends on it.

Research Ethics: Standards and Best Practices

Don StacksIPR Measurement Commission Chair Dr. Don Stacks explored the latest thoughts in research and measurement ethics with his presentation of “Examining Research and Measurement Ethics in Today’s Transparent World: Establishing Standards for Today’s Communications.”

Differentiating “standards” from “best practices,” Dr. Stacks explained that standards define and determine what needs to be measured, while best practices illustrate how to best meet the objectives of the standards.

Pulling from modern research literature, Dr. Stacks explained the thought process behind the best practices approach and the movement toward ethical industry standardization.

Reputation: What Brings P.R. and Research Together

Oscar Suris
“Research has been the foundation for all of our reputational work at Wells Fargo,” said the company’s executive vice president and head of corporate communications Oscar Suris during the IPR Distinguished Keynote Speech at the PRIME Research VIP Dinner.

Held in conjunction with the conference, the event is where the IPR Co-Chair publicly pledged Wells Fargo’s support of research standards created by the Coalition for Public Relations Research Standards.

“A common language and set of principles would help elevate research’s role in our profession, and would send a clear message – particularly to those beginning their PR careers – that the understanding and leveraging of research and measurement principles have become table stakes vital to the professional success we aspire to enjoy,” said Suris.

Alyssa Hubbell is a Public Relations Associate at the Institute for Public Relations.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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