PR Measurement: It Can Only Get Better From Here

I was reading another blog again today that points out what is wrong with PR measurement.  This is starting to sound all too familiar.  Are you getting frustrated with hearing about what is wrong in PR measurement world and not having a clear answer on how to fix it?  I have to admit… so am I.

But we don’t have anything if we don’t have hope!  The good news is, the industry is starting to pinpoint and analyze what the problems are.  Which is always a good start.  Brian McDermott of Gregory FCA Public Relations shares in his blog The Revolution Taking Place in PR Measurement what he learned at the Ragan Measurement Summit a few weeks ago.

First of all, I like how he titles his blog “The Revolution Taking Place in PR Measurement”.  Instead of seeing a list of problems with PR measurement he sees an advancement or as the dictionary defines revolution: “a sudden or momentous change in a situation”.  Because our world is changing rapidly, PR measurement is having to adapt and develop a “new normal”.  The industry is in the middle of trying to figure out what that “new normal” should look like.

Brian points out that in the PR industry we have:

  1. Some that don’t do any type of measurement at all.
  2. Some that are using outdated and inaccurate measurement (AVE & automated analysis).
  3. No clear industry leader for measurement

After reading Brian’s blog, do you think there will ever be a “new normal” for PR measurement?  Do you have hope that we can adapt as an industry and come up with an effective standard for PR measurement?  I would love to hear from you on this.

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Understanding Social Media Measurement

PR measurement can be confusing and complicated in its traditional form, let alone adding social media to the mix.  Many PR pros are still in the process of trying to figure out the best way to measure social media and use it to help meet business goals.  I recently read a great post entitled How Do You Measure Social Media by Tim Penning.  This associate professor, does a great job of explaining what traditional PR evaluation looks like and then pointing out it’s equivalent in the social media world.

In reading this post I couldn’t help but notice that the same rules that apply in traditional media measurement, also apply to social media measurement.  He starts by making sure that we are focused on goals.  He suggests asking the question:  How is social media helping meet established business goals? Instead of:  How is our social media doing?

This is something that I have learned is very important if you want to cut through the amount of data out there and get clients and executives specific answers to their questions.

Another thing I love about this post is his way of pointing out the weakest forms of measurement to the most sophisticated and effective in both traditional and social medias.  He seems to agree that just reporting media coverage is not nearly as effective as measuring change in awareness, attitude or action.  This, of course, goes back to meeting specific goals.

One of the things Mr. Penning points out about social media is its success at establishing a relationship between business and customer.  What do you think?  Have your clients had success in establishing positive relationships with customers through social media?

 

“Green” Claims Need to Be Authentic

“Green” Claims Need to Be Authentic

Happy Earth Day! Today I have been thinking a lot about something I heard Peter Shankman say last week during a webinar… he said, “People like to spend money on companies they like.” Seems like a simple enough concept, right? Well, I thought about that today as I was observing different companies and their actions – and attitudes – toward Earth Day.

Have you ever noticed how some brands seem to “use” Earth Day as an opportunity to cash in on good PR, even though they are not normally very environmentally friendly?  Is your company or  client anxious to announce to the world that they are “going green”?  Generally speaking, the public likes it when organizations take care of the earth.  So why not get the word out and improve your reputation?  Well… because if your company or client is just incorporating one small environmentally friendly change in order to get some good PR, and it is not consistent in doing other environmental practices, it could quickly turn into bad PR.  On this Earth Day I’d like to caution PR pros to exercise restraint when it comes to promoting an organization’s environmental actions unless they are:

  1. Consistent in their environmental practices throughout their organization
  2. Truly making a real impact on the environment

People who truly have a heart and passion for taking care of our earth can see through feeble attempts for organizations to make themselves look good to environmentalists.  If an organization truly wants to “go green” and has a passion for making positive changes to impact the environment, then that is something worthy to announce.  Just realize that “going green” is a mindset and should be baked into every area of the organization.  A company that is “going green” should be consistently providing its employees with opportunities to live “green” as well.  Recycling at work, ride sharing, encouraging the reuse of items and providing environmental ideas and information are just a few possibilities.  The term “going green” has been highly overused in the past 5 years.  Audiences really only want to hear that term used when it is authentic.

The second qualification for getting a “green” light in promoting an organizations environmental practices is this:  are they really making an impact on the environment?  If an organization has a production plant that emits toxic chemicals into the air and they are bragging about using recycled materials in their packaging they are not truly having a positive impact on the environment.  Doing one good thing for the environment doesn’t cancel out the bad.

I highly encourage all of us to find a few small changes that we can make this year to help take care of our earth.  Just be careful not to claim you are “going green” unless you really mean business!

 

The PR Over-Servicing Dilemma: Part 2

Once upon a time, in a previous blog post, I mentioned that expectations are at the root of the PR over-servicing problem.  When goals and  expected deliverables aren’t clearly communicated and used to guide PR activities, PR agencies and their clients find themselves moving in different directions.  The agency may push forward thinking everything is running smoothly while the client is unsatisfied and restless. The result? Clients feeling the need to change course and add PR activities in a desperate attempt to fulfill their hidden expectations.  Stopping the over-servicing cycle is simply a matter of communicating and managing expectations:

1.  DEFINE THEM

2.  STICK TO THEM

3.  MEASURE RESULTS

4.  DELIVER RESULTS

Today let’s focus on points three and four.

3. Measure Results

Once your expectations are aligned (and you have agreed to stick to them) it is time to measure your results.  Create a grid that tracks “goal vs. actual” results.  For example record how many interviews you were expecting and then track it against how many actual interviews you got.  This is a great way to check off goals when they are reached.  Clients or executives can see progress being made and don’t have to wonder if the project was a success.  Wallop! OnDemand found in our most recent survey that 42% of PR pros use a “goal vs. actual” grid to help tackle over-servicing.

4.  Deliver Results

This is my favorite part.  After following the first three points you are much more likely to DELIVER expected results to your clients or executives.  And because you 1. clearly defined expectations 2. didn’t change them and 3. measured results… there should be no questions whether expectations were met or not.  (As well as no reason for clients to ask for “free add-ons” throughout the process.)  And everyone lived happily ever after!

The PR Over-servicing Issue: A Matter of Expectations

Have you ever noticed that misaligned expectations are the culprit in most relationship issues?  This is true at work and in our personal lives. I see this problem occur frequently in the PR world.  In fact, I believe that misunderstood expectations generally are at the root of the over-servicing problems that so many PR agencies struggle with.

Over-servicing happens when both sides fail to clearly communicate how they define success for a particular PR project.  Then, out of desperation for their expectations to be met, the client keeps adding to the project to ensure their version of success is achieved.  Not wanting to disappoint, the PR staff works twice as hard to accomplish the added tasks and ensure a happy client, while going over budget and burning themselves out in the process.  So, how can we break this cycle that PR seems to get sucked into over and over again?  It is a matter of expectations.

1. DEFINE THEM

2. STICK TO THEM

3. MEASURE THEM

4. DELIVER THEM

Today let’s touch on the first two points.

1.  Expectations:  Define and Document

Clear communication in the beginning will save you from misunderstandings in the future.  Before a project begins, get all the expectations out on the table.  Once everyone has agreed to a set of reasonable expectations, specific goals can be defined using budgetary and time parameters.  This honest communication is so crucial to the success of your PR-client relationship.  A client won’t be disappointed later if specific agreed upon goals are achieved.  A good CYA tip for agencies is to make sure you document expected deliverables.  This can serve as a friendly, firm reminder if clients attempt to move the goal line  later on.

2.  Expectations:  Stick to Them

It can be frustrating when a client decides at the last minute to “add-on” another PR activity.  These sudden “extras” catch agencies off guard, so they accommodate to keep everyone satisfied.  But that accommodation only fuels the over-servicing cycle.

Goals are put in place for a reason, and PR activities are designed strategically around those goals. Agencies need to be firm and remind clients that it is a waste of time and money to constantly take detours with non-goal-oriented tasks.  Staying focused on the agreed upon goals will produce the best results and keep everyone moving in the same direction.  There may be times when a change does make sense and some flexibility is needed in order to make improvements.  In those cases, make sure you communicate your expectations of the budget or time changes in order to accommodate the new request.

Defining expectations and sticking to them is a great start to controlling over-servicing.  How does your agency handle the over-servicing dilemma? Leave a comment and let me know.

Also, don’t miss my next post on this topic with tips on how to measure and deliver expectations. Watch for it later this week.

 

 

Commit to conquering measurement challenges

With technology and communication changing at the speed of light, it is no wonder PR pros are feeling challenged and frustrated with PR measurement.  Information and PR data is out there for the taking and it has the potential to give our clients and executives valuable insights into business decisions.  Yet many PR pros are restrained by time, manpower, money and technology – so they can’t actually leverage valuable PR insights.

What is the solution to overcoming these challenges?  I believe that:

  1. Businesses need to commit to making PR measurement a priority
  2. Businesses need to invest in PR measurement

We all know that once we decide something is a priority in our lives, we’re willing to dedicate resources to it.  Like when someone decides they are going to lose weight/get healthy, they reallocate their budget in order to afford the things that will help them reach their goals – things like new workout shoes, a gym membership and healthy foods.  Not only that, they will make exercising a priority over watching TV or going out to dinner.  It is not always easy, but the long-term benefits of strategic sacrifices outweigh the costs. And, meeting weight loss goals helps validate the decision to invest in a healthy lifestyle conversion.

The same approach is needed for PR measurement. Sure, measurement does require a time investment, manpower and money to put in place modern tools and strategies. Fully jumping in and committing to measurement is difficult, especially if not everyone in your organization agrees that PR measurement should be a priority. But, the payoff (better PR) is worth it.

Is Combining PR Strategies the way to go?

I often hear PR pros debating the best way to effectively measure PR.  I recently found this article over on PRMoment looking at the tools that are available: http://bit.ly/XVzl4u.  It is an interesting conversation.  I think measurement progress is happening, as clients are demanding it to happen.  Data driven PR strategy should be the goal as we look to meet these needs, but is there a combination of factors we should consider when looking at this?

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