When Should Agencies Consider a Full-Service Solution?

A new year seems to be the best time to take a look back and analyze the previous year.  As a business, it is a good time to ask, “Should we be doing anything differently?”  You may be wondering, “Is this a good time to consider using a full-service solution for our PR measurement?”  Well, I think the best way to accurately answer that question is to determine how well your current measurement efforts are functioning. Taking a good hard look at your current situation will tell you what you need to know.

How Well Are Current Measurement Efforts Functioning?  Are You Experiencing:

  • Data overload
  • Too little staff time for analysis and quality assurance
  • Difficulty connecting measurement results to PR strategy
  • Inadequate reporting
  • Cutting corners
  • A need to free up staff for other PR work

These are common signs that your current efforts are falling short and you are compromising quality measurement.  So if you fall into any of the above categories, it could be a much better fit to allow experienced analysts to handle measurement work and let your staff focus on their area of expertise – PR campaign work.  It takes a lot of work and experience to extract key insights from data and turn it into something useful.  This is something full-service solution analysts do every day, while taking the time to ensure accuracy to boot (if they are doing a good job).  In the end, this may even be a more cost efficient, time efficient and quality efficient way to operate.

Once you determine that you need a full-service solution, the next step is to know what to look for in a full-service measurement provider.  Check out my blog next week for specifics on how to find an excellent full-service provider.

 

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Ensure Quality Measurement by Implementing Quality Control

Do you ever wonder if your measurement reports are completely accurate?  This is a valid concern.  After all, technology has its limitations.  Even if it is performing correctly, a computer can’t think and reason like a human.  When monitoring coverage sometimes distinctions need to be made, for example, for a word that has more than one meaning or an executive who has a common name.  To produce the most accurate analytics, I recommend putting a quality process in place.

Consider the following questions to help you get started:

1.       Who is responsible for quality control?

2.       What steps are needed to check coverage data for accuracy?

3.       What is the process for adding missing coverage/deleting irrelevant coverage?

4.       How will we ensure the articles are tagged correctly?

5.       What routine quality checks do we need to perform?  How often?

Taking the extra time to assign responsibilities regarding quality and checking the coverage for accuracy will pay off in the end.  You don’t want to find out that you are making important PR and strategy decisions based on inaccurate data.  Knowing that your information is accurate will give you peace of mind and confidence that you are making informed decisions and delivering the right information.  Clients and executives will be able to use your reports to get a clear and accurate picture of PR’s progress and to recognize business opportunities.

Another option that is available if you are not able to implement quality control in-house, is to consider using a full-service provider that can cleanse and analyze your data for you.  If you can’t (or don’t want to) commit time to correcting errors, then have someone else do the work.  For more information on this topic, check out my blog later this week.

 

Developing and Documenting Search Terms

Are you frustrated by clients asking, “Why wasn’t this specific coverage included in our PR report?”  or by having your agency accused of “missing coverage”?  I think this is a very valid problem for agencies.  It is not uncommon for clients and agencies to have misunderstandings about coverage reports.  But, I have found that establishing and documenting clear search terms can be a good way to avoid these kinds of problems.

Clarify

When you work with your client to establish a definite list of targeted search terms, you can decide together what is worth measuring and what is not.  As you begin to use search terms in your tracking, it is important to explain to your clients that they can expect reports to reflect only coverage that includes one or more of their key terms.  Then reinforce the fact that measurement is not meant to cover everything, only the most important information.  If all coverage is tracked, they will just be inundated with too much information that is hard to analyze and doesn’t help them meet their goals.

Agree

If specific keyword terms are generated together with an agreement that they are appropriate based on PR and business goals, then a client has no reason to get upset when a piece of coverage that doesn’t fall under the established terms is excluded.  (Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean  clients won’t ever question reports!)  Remember to document which 10 – 20 terms will be used, to protect yourself from any future problems.  It may be necessary to gently remind clients that there are budgetary and strategic reasons behind capturing their data.  And clients will likely respond better if you have documentation of your agreed upon search terms available for reference.

Great Results

Once you begin creating reports with your data, both you and your clients will see the benefit of a well defined search strategy.  This type of PR measurement produces great results, which means satisfied clients.

If you want to learn about Wallop! OnDemand’s PR measurement and monitoring services, visit www.wallopondemand.com, request a Wallop! demo, or contact me directly:  kristin@wallopondemand.com

How to Make PR Measurement More Sophisticated: Manage Client Expectations

Do you ever wonder if there is a way to present your clients with PR measurement that delivers the results they are looking for?  To give executives a report that is exactly what they expected and more?  Well, I believe this is possible if you put work into communicating clearly during the initial pre-planning stages.  Discussions on what measurement will include, what reports will cover and how often reports are presented will set the stage for what to expect.

What Will Be Measured?

Budget, time constraints and client goals will determine what you need to measure.  The more questions you can ask your client about these three areas, the better.  Once you have gathered as much information as you can from your client, you can make recommendations based on what you think is the best way to help them reach their goals.  For more information on defining the scope of PR measurement see my previous blog post on this specific subject.

What Type of Reports?

Deciding with your clients what your reports will include is a great way to manage their expectations.  They’ll know what they will be getting in advance and they will have a hand in making the decision on what type of reports will be most helpful for them.  Will it be a side by side comparison report with competitors?  Will the report give trends on key topics?  Clients will like the fact that their reports are custom tailored to their specific needs and goals.

How Often?

Frequency of reports is another topic that should be discussed and decided in advance of actual measurement.  What makes sense for the information that is being tracked?  If the client wants to keep close tabs on a competitor, daily or weekly reporting should be considered.  If you are tracking customer trends, a quarterly report would suffice.

Working with your client in communicating expectations and making decisions together regarding PR measurement, can really make the difference in giving your clients what they want.  By discussing everything from the start, client expectations will be curbed to only include what you have decided as a team makes sense for them.  This allows for a win-win for everybody involved.

See my blog:  Find Your Perfect PR Match: Making Client-Agency Relationships Last for more on the relationship aspect of PR.

How PR Agencies Can Make Measurement More Sophisticated and Successful: Determine Scope of Measurement Work

“Because of budget and time restraints, you can’t measure everything.”

Is your agency wanting to incorporate more sophisticated measurement practices and move away from excel spreadsheet reporting?  One thing I recommend is to make determining the scope of the measurement a priority.  Because of budget and time restraints, you can’t measure everything. You must stick to prioritizing coverage data by quality, not quantity. If too much data is collected, you will end up with more information than you can manage and analyze.

So before you start monitoring and measuring coverage, define your parameters with your client by asking a few key questions.

  • What topics are we going to track?
  • Who are the spokespeople we plan to monitor?
  • What products will we watch?
  • Which competitors do we want to keep an eye on?
  • What supplemental coverage (besides what we are tracking) do we need to look at?

Answering questions like these will help keep your efforts on track and your clients focused. Without guidelines in place, clients tend to continually make requests that become unmanageable and seem unrelated to any specific objectives or goals.  It is always good to clarify what the client expects, to be specific about what you can deliver and to make sure that all measurement practices are relevant.  Defining the scope with the client from the very beginning plays an important part  in maintaining healthy client-agency relationships.  It is a great way to avoid misunderstandings and unmet expectations in the future.

As you start incorporating this method of measurement and you begin to prioritize, you will appreciate the efficiency. No more wasting precious time and resources. In the end, having a manageable amount of consistent, focused information is much more valuable to you, and your client. You can deliver the “right” data to your client that makes creating smart strategies and making informed business decisions a whole lot easier.

How PR Agencies Can Make Measurement More Sophisticated and Successful: Using Forms and Documentation

Many agencies track PR results by recording them in a spreadsheet and sending that information to clients as a report. This type of data is not nearly as helpful and successful as using more sophisticated analysis of PR coverage. If you are going to take the time to track and collect information, then why not use it to help formulate a specific PR strategy and to help your client make good business decisions. This is well worth the time and money and will make your reports much more valuable for your clients.

So how do we get started in making the switch to more sophisticated measurement? The first place to start is in creating standard intake forms designed to help you and your client determine objectives and define scope. Well-designed forms ask questions that help agencies to focus on collecting and analyzing only appropriate information that is in line with the client’s goals. This way you can present your results in a useful, client specific report that will prove valuable to all involved. Your forms may include: a list of search terms, what topics should be tracked, which coverage to include and exclude, which competitors to watch, or spokespeople to monitor. When you ask specific questions from the beginning and pinpoint what a client’s objectives are, you can provide a targeted measurement analysis report that delivers. Not to mention the fact that you and your client will be on the same page as to what information you will be tracking and not tracking based on the form documentation.

Speaking of documentation, that is the next thing to consider when making the change to quality PR measurement. It is critical to document all client expectations and decisions made about measurement parameters. Agencies need to be very clear with clients upfront about what measurement does and does NOT include. Many times clients get upset when they find a piece of coverage that wasn’t included in a report. This usually happens because the coverage was outside the defined search terms. When you have documentation to remind the client of the agreed upon parameters based on budget and time restraints, this can help resolve or prevent further issues.

As you can see, creating a system to capture the right data from each client, using forms, processes and documentation is a great start for switching over to more analytical PR measurement. For more information on how to develop a more successful measurement program, check out the next Measurement Minute post.

Find Your Perfect PR Match – Making Client-Agency Relationships Last

In the business world it can be difficult to maintain a healthy client-agency relationship.  It is fairly common for people to have had some experience with a partnership that has gone sour.  That is why it is so important to learn what can cause these issues and to take every measure to prevent them in the future.

Many factors can contribute to a strained client-PR agency relationship.  To name a few of the most common:  unmet expectations, miscommunication of goals and lack of measurement of progress.  In order to avoid these common pitfalls it is best to find the perfect match for your business or agency.  Here is the secret: from the very beginning, clients and agencies need to be more selective.  Taking the time upfront to do your research and ask important questions can save both clients and agencies the headache of a mismatched relationship.

Clients are encouraged to check out more than one agency and find out what they offer for services and data measurement.  Communicating their expectations to the agency and asking specific questions is key.

Agencies, however, sometimes think that they can’t afford to be picky.  But not every client is a good match.  Clients that expect over-servicing and are unprofitable can take up a big chunk of the agencies time that can result in over-worked, disgruntled employees.  Clear communication to clients about what they can expect from your agency will also help in establishing boundaries.  Be sure not to over promise what you can’t deliver just to get a new client.

Don’t be afraid to go your separate ways if your PR match is not working for you.  This type of situation can easily happen especially since both parties are trying to appear more attractive during the courtship phase. Being selective and transparent, as well as communicating clear expectations will get you on track to find your perfect PR match.
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