Burson-Marsteller, a global consultancy, has adopted a research-focused approach they call 'Evidenced-Based Communications' (complete announcement here). This year, the firm has rolled out a methodology for developing and measuring programs. “The media and communications landscape is changing and so have the needs of our clients,” said Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn. “In a world of citizen journalism, social media, and instant information about events happening around the globe, we are investing in a more diligent and scientific approach to developing and delivering key messages.”
It's great to see marketing and media moving in this direction. Here's how the firm describes the benefits (there is, um, a bit of spin applied). "Evidence-based communications ends the guess work. All strategies are based on evidence, not speculation." (Okay. But trying something creative and new involves unknowns. Don't let evidence crowd out big ideas and experimentation.) "It is cost-effective... ensuring that each client’s communications dollars are spent on tactics and messages that will deliver results. It is measurable. By... benchmarking at the beginning of a program and measuring effectiveness at the end, clients will be able to demonstrate a positive communications return-on-investment."
They continue, saying theirs is a holistic approach: "While it is common to use some basic research to drive a communications message or to assess the reach of a program at the end, the Evidence-Based approach is a complete methodology. The approach ensures a thorough use of data and tools designed specifically to insert science into the process where appropriate. It provides proof of PR value to the organization’s C-Suite. By using an Evidence-Based approach, communications professionals can demonstrate the value that PR brings to their organization at large."
I wish them well with their evidence-based methodology.