I was delighted to agree to talk at Smoking Gun’s event on 8th September 2016 at Smoking Gun PR, especially as the agency’s MD Rick Guttridge was so generous with his time supporting me when I hosted a CIPR NW event the previous year to support Measurement Month in 2015.
As a media evaluation consultant still very much involved in the operational processes behind the media evaluation workflow, I explored the notion of the ‘7 habits of highly effective media analysts’.
OK, I stole the idea from the personal development book by Stephen Covey. But after nearly two decades managing teams of media content analysts and evaluation specialists, I have come to believe that it takes a certain type of person to succeed in this industry. I wonder if you see a little bit of yourself in any of the observations below?
- Choose the right personality type
*Disclaimer: the sampling methodology of the following hypothesis is not statistically robust, but it adds to my gut instinct!
I asked all team members to carry out a quick online Myers-Brigg personality test to see if we do share similar personality types. It turns out that most of us are a J type (squares marked with a yellow square indicate the volume of answers from my colleagues).
The results suggest to me that there is a certain type of temperament and personality type which feels comfortable evaluating (or J-udging) media content. Many in my team were ISFJ or ESFJ types – ISFJs in particular are known for their analytical skills. Have you thought about the personality type of the person in your organisation tasked with media evaluation?
- Be more librarian
There are some people who discover in the third year of their undergraduate life that the university library has an upstairs. I was upstairs from day one. What always astounded me, especially in the days pre computerised records, was the ability to find a book so easily in such a huge place. Everything was always filed away in the right location, correctly labelled, placed in a logical order. A successful media analyst understands the concepts of:
- Storing data / archiving media coverage in a way which makes it easy to find in the future
- Importance of file names / folders when categorising or archiving content digitally
- Importance of consistency when classifying / coding media coverage
- Don’t be afraid of change
It’s not that long ago when media analysts’ tools consisted of a ruler and scissors. Yes, computing power has brought us great advantages – and also the potential to do away with many of the jobs we are currently doing.
I’d say that the past five years in media evaluation have progressed the industry as much as in the previous 15. We have AMEC, the Barcelona Principles and the Integrated Evaluation Framework to thank for that.
Highly successful media analysts also need to keep pace with the rapid changes taking place outside of, but linked to the evaluation industry. Use the tools which we increasingly use in our day to day work – social media / webinars / networking – to keep at the forefront of change.
- Respect Data quality/Data comparison
Don’t compare apples with pears. Really care about the data going into an evaluation project. Is the data set comparable with last year? Did the client change monitoring provider mid-way through the year? Did new elements of content (eg broadcast or social) come on stream which have impacted comparisons with previous data sets?
Highly successful media analysts develop an intuitive sense of what rings true and a feel for the quality of the data and how it fits into a wider data landscape.
- Forget Word, learn to love Excel
This might sound nerdy. In fact it is nerdy: I love Excel.
Imagine having a servant that could do all sorts of extra complicated stuff for you, take the grind out of tedious number crunching, and almost make a cup of tea for you. That’s what Excel does. Use it, play with it, and don’t be afraid to try new things every day. The buttons you never use have a function – that could save you time, money or worry. If you are carrying out evaluation on a budget, Excel is your trusty data crunching friend. However, do remember point 2: ‘be more librarian’ when logging a coverage list on Excel.
- Be a Data storyteller
Your data are not numbers that exist in isolation. They relate to a wider significance. They have a narrative to explain why they are either unimportant or important. They have a story to tell. Highly successful media analysts are not number crunchers. They are ace storytellers.
Smoking Gun has already brought measurement to life with this great piece of storytelling. Highly successful media analysts need to employ similar imaginative data story telling techniques.
- Use tools like the AMEC interactive planning and evaluation tool
You’d expect James Bond to drive an Aston Martin; media analysts now have their own super tools to enable them to do their job to the best ability. No one in media analytics is alone with great tools like the AMEC interactive planning and evaluation tool alongside them.
Learn to use, respect and share: the more we can establish these tools in common use, to replace AVEs and other false measures the more our industry and the role of media analysts grows.
If you need the help of a highly successful media analyst, call Media Evaluation Research on 07968 971 416, or reach out to @stephbridgeman on Twitter if you feel like unleashing your inner librarian.