Is a Pica Pole Still Relevant? - INK inc PR

Is a Pica Pole Still Relevant?

PR Measurement

Yes, I know looking backward is a very dangerous way of moving forward.  One invariably suffers from the optical illusion of rose-colored hindsight. But I was reminded again recently of just how much the PR profession continues to change when I got into a discussion about influence marketing, SEO, meta tags, links, ad words, et.al. Say what?

Once again at the risk of proving myself to be irrelevant, I started in this profession when we used to measure success with a pica pole.  To most readers, this instrument is even less familiar than a slide rule.  While you’re madly Googling these two terms, I’ll continue.  We were publicists in those days and proud of it.  Our role was to land our clients in the media with as much positive coverage as we could obtain ethically by pitching producers, reporters, and columnists with actual newsworthy bits of information. And – here it comes – we measured that coverage with a pica pole – an archaic tool that literally measured column inches of newspaper type. Say what?  Now, I would love to say that I was only paid if I actually delivered such coverage, but that didn’t come until a few years later.  We were paid a salary, but not for long if we didn’t continue to consistently produce column inches of media coverage – measured by a pica pole.

So what does this have to do with influence marketing and meta tags?  Well, it points out two things…the terminology of the PR profession is as obtuse as ever, and, we’ve drifted a long way from measuring PR performance with actual media coverage in a direct and simple way – tangible coverage, not analytics.  Now before the gods of today’s PR technical gurus are unleashed on me, please let me say, I believe in the modern methods and in the measurable results.  It’s progress and most all progress is good if it helps achieve a client’s goals – and if it’s billable, of course.

But I can’t help being a little nostalgic of those Monday morning ‘boggie’ meetings where the boss would pull out a pica pole to carefully measure and determine which of us young PR Turks deserved special praise for a job well done.  And not one mention of meta tags or links was heard.