The very best communication challenges the perceptions and change the mind of the listener. This year's excellent AMEC summit definitely made me think again about public relations and marketing, goals, and how you measure your progress against them.

For the uninitiated, AMEC is the Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication. Every year since 2009 the organisation puts on its annual congress, which this year was attended by over 300 professionals across PR, marketing, media and the companies that supply them. It featured two full days of talks and panel sessions from some of the leading companies and communicators in the world. Here are some of the key insights I took away from the event:

Stop obsessing over ROI - I literally never thought I'd say this... but a talk by Microsoft's Jamin Spitzer really challenged my thought process on this. He, rather colourfully, described PR-to-Sales attribution as the "enriched uranium of measurement", to be handled with caution by communicators. The reason being, he said, was that PR is in part a "top of the funnel" activity, with a focus on establishing awareness and trying to develop preference. If all you do is highlight the ability to buy now, you lose to some of the other value which PR creates. And once you sign up to deliver ROI for PR, you are signed-up every time.

Failure is a good thing - It seems counter-intuitive to say it, but Chiara Latella of Campari Group said, very eloquently "What makes the next campaign better is what didn't work on this campaign". Digital marketers are very comfortable with the concept of failure - inherent in "optimisation" is the concept that something hasn't worked and can be improved upon. Public Relations professionals need to be more comfortable with failure.

In a SaaS business, churn isn't one of the important KPIs to track - BrandWatch's CEO Giles Palmer talked about leading versus lagging indicators, and how he had changed the businesses internal reporting to focus on leading rather than lagging indicators. He said that the business has moved away from looking at customer churn, which is a lagging indicator, to customer usage and engagement of its online tool, which is a leading indicator.

Internal communications is the new external communications - Jerry Nichols, Global Head of Marketing Performance Management of SAP talked about how the business harnesses the energy, enthusiasm and, importantly, social reach of its 90,000 employees. He said they play "a key role in communicating the value of the business" externally, and that makes a lot of sense. 

To be honest, this post could have been about triple the length, such was the quality of the speakers and the presentations at the AMEC Summit. If it's not an event you were aware of, you should definitely look out for it when it returns in Prague in 2019. And if you do book as a result of this recommendation, they probably won't track the ROI from this post, and that's no bad thing.