Are your PR analytics up to scratch?

Author: KISS Communications

I recently attended an event discussing best practice in PR measurement and evaluation and, whilst most PR professionals will (I hope) be implementing these principles already, it gave me some valuable insight on measurement that’s fit for the future, and how some of the largest institutes in the UK implement their evaluation strategy.

Evaluation is often seen as an intimidating term that’s referred to at the end of the month when sending off client reports. It often carries a heavy burden of expectation which can add unnecessary pressure.

Here are my top takeaways from the event:

1. Things have moved on

If you’re still using AVE’s (advertising value equivalent – the cost of buying the space taken up by a particular article, had the article been an advertisement) to measure a campaign’s success, then you need to clean the cobwebs away and join the liberated masses.

The worldwide PR industry has denounced AVEs as flawed – for those still hung up on employing AVEs as a measurement metric, have a read of AMEC’s guide to why AVEs are invalid. The main reason for not using them is simple: PR isn’t advertising and therefore can’t be measured as such.

2. OASIS

Alex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communications, argued that you can’t measure everything, and you shouldn’t. Measurement should be about evaluating things which contain an action to improve and develop, or to inform the next campaign.

OASIS is an acronym used for all government communication strategies in order to help bring clarity to planning and executing often complex campaigns.
• O: Objectives
• A: Audience insight
• S: Strategy/insight
• I: Implementation
• S: Scoring/evaluation

The aim is to help make the planning process simpler and easier to remember. OASIS should be viewed in the context of a wider campaign e.g. we want to increase traffic to the KISS website by 12% and we’re going to launch an influencer campaign to achieve this.

Monitoring outputs and outcomes throughout your campaign will allow you to make minor adjustments to the implementation and review and refresh the approach after each phase of the campaign. So, when it comes to evaluation, discussions are much more focused around areas to improve and develop rather than just hitting KPI’s.

3. Evaluation isn’t about reach

More than three quarters (78%) of Brits feel they’re better informed than ever before, however only 4/10 read beyond a headline. With growing distrust in social media, and as influencers tend to buy followers, traditional ways of measuring reach as a metric are becoming inaccurate. The Pepsi refresh project is a great case study in highlighting how measuring by reach alone can damage a company.

Clients are more likely to be interested in out-takes and outcomes. The extent to which the audience is aware of the message, has understood and remembered it, validates if the campaign is working, or acts as an early warning that the strategy may need adjustment.

Outcomes provide concrete proof, such as a rise in sales that can be traced to PR and can be the strongest basis for estimating a return on the PR investment.

The general consensus from the room was that PR analytics across the board are still very far away from being a well-oiled machine. Interestingly, 70% of PR pros recognise a skills gap in data analytics and many were calling for backing from professional bodies and backing from clients for what they want from success.

At KISS we can see how a large proportion of campaigns are now integrated. PR doesn’t operate in a vacuum, it’s part of the wider marketing mix, which means measuring impact isn’t isolated to PR activity. Evaluation should be a collaborative approach between client and agency – KPI’s shouldn’t be set by an organisation and then locked away in a dark cupboard until your next six-month review.

Evaluation should be used as a method in creating the most effective communication campaign, not as an indicator of how well you can do your job. Agreeing up front the different ways of evaluating is always a priority at KISS – and it will be different for each client depending on their desired outcomes.

Here’s what we felt Facebook did well, and could also potentially do better in PR Crisis Comms

When you have 2.2 billion active users worldwide potentially impacted by a data breach, it is a blunder. But more of a PR blunder.

Data collection is not limited to Facebook. If you exist in the society of now, own a smartphone and happen to run a couple of apps, chances are your user data is being collected by a tech company running these web services.

Breaches in personal data have become common place. The moment we ‘like’ a post or agree to the T&C fine prints before we start an app, we have allowed ourselves to be susceptible to data being stolen.

While fixing the product and regulations may take awhile, bringing the communications up to speed in times of such crisis may be less of a rocket science.

Here’s what we felt Facebook did well, and could do better.

What was done well

  1. Taking ownership at the highest level

Faced with multiple waves of backlash coming at Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg remains steadfast in owning the situation and responding to them, as opposed to passing the buck to another member of the team.

Putting a face to the brand in times of crisis is important. It helps assure the audience that someone is held accountable, and not just an organization putting out statements.

  1. Use of simple, clear language to communicate

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I’m responsible for what happens here.”

In most crisis, the audience just wants closure and to move on from the incident. When the ownership of crisis is clearly communicated in a sincere manner, people are more likely to forgive and forget. Comments online have favorably been on the side of Mark Zuckerberg, with most calling him a true leader.

  1. Control the narrative with planned interviews

When Mark Zuckerberg gave CNN the exclusive one-on-one interview after news of the data breach broke, he was taking charge of how he wanted his audience-at-large to receive information from him. Rather than allow media to speculate and piece together information based on loosely quoted interviews, he chose not to be caught off guard, and convey his thoughts in a concerted way. The choice of media is also key. Choosing a media that is more neutral to the brand, giving it as an exclusive, does help take the heat off a notch.

  1. Clear Standard Operating Procedure

Facebook was swift to roll out a game plan right after the news broke:

i) Top executives were sent to key markets to meet with regulators and conducted inquiry sessions.

ii) All top executives were trained on key messages and bridged difficult questions with them.

iii) The key messages were structured to move the conversation forward:

  1. Acknowledge: I’m really sorry that this happened
  2. What could not be done: I wish we’d taken those steps earlier. That … is probably the biggest mistake that we made here.
  3. Next steps: We will make a full forensic audit

FB  had a clear standard operating procedure (SOP) detailing how it was going to address the problem moving forward. With plans to restrict access to data in the future, Facebook is embarking on a major shift in its relationship with third-party app developers that have used Facebook’s vast network to expand their businesses. What was largely an automated process will now involve developers agreeing to “strict requirements”. This change is one of the many steps Facebook is taking to curtail developers’ abilities to access data.

For a start, Zuckerberg is taking the right steps to address operational failures even though time will tell if this is enough.

What could be done better

  1. Long lead time before responding to the public

Waiting for over two years before the news broke, and then for Facebook to acknowledge and come back with an honest apology might be too late, too little? When the brand is a media platform, and its community media owners themselves, taking the pro-active approach to inform users of the breach and providing steps to recover could potentially help Facebook lose less fans in this whole debacle.

While the #DeleteFacebook momentum may be losing steam, it sure has caused a dent in the brand, especially with prolific users such as co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak and founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, joining in the movement.

In the case of Adobe’s 2013 data breach, the company informed affected customers immediately and users appreciated the company being honest and upfront that their credit card numbers and passwords have been encrypted. Brad Arkin, VP ad CSO of Adobe, shared that it is not advisable to wait six months until every fact is out because then the actual information isn’t as timely for the people who need it.

  1. Lack of brand advocates

Strong brand advocates play an important role to rally support behind a brand in times of crisis. In the case of Facebook, a lack of advocates led to the tension leading up to the crisis.  Corporate users like Tesla deleted their brand page and advertisers like Commerzbank and Mozilla suspended advertising on Facebook.

On the other hand, Under Armour had brand advocates including Olympians Michael Phelps and Linsey Vorm who took to social media to sing the brand’s praises during its 2014 Design Flaw scandal. Today, Under Armour has gracefully moved on from that crisis with their 2015 announcement of an extended sponsorship with the US speed skating team.

As a case in point, brand advocates play a role in determining whether a brand bounces back stronger or tarnished further. Building an eco-system of advocates take time and brands should start cultivating it as part of crisis preparedness way ahead of a potential crisis.

PROI completes ASEAN network in view of the strategic importance of this region

In the last 12 months, the consortium has added six new agencies to its roster, bringing the group’s network to 17 agencies in Asia and Australia-New Zealand.

PROIAsian-2

PROI Worldwide just concluded its 47th Annual Global Summit in Sydney Australia, with more than 60 of the world’s leading PR agency owners committing to build new pathways to more effective communications.

Change in industry landscape

The conclusion of the Annual Global Summit has seen the world’s leading PR agency owners come to the consensus that there is now a new normal in the way messages are sent and received, dramatically changing the way our views of the world are formed.

For brands, the question of how to communicate is not as simple as it once was. According to Mr. Tsang, “Ten years ago, we questioned; PR or advertising? Nowadays, we ask a bewildering array of questions:  owned, earned, or paid media? Content marketing, native advertising or influencer relations? What do we do about social media trolls and fake news?”

In a world where people are inundated with thousands of messages on a daily basis, finding a path in the forest underbrush is essential for success. And brands, more often than not, suffer through topics as puzzling as millenials and social media, and as daunting as big data and analytics.

Opportunities in Asia Pacific

This explosion of options has gotten businessmen and politicians in a bind, making the consultants that provide clear advice on the way forward, all the more necessary. PROI Worldwide, for one, is wasting no time in capitalizing on this sea change.

With over $800 million in revenue spread across 75 partners in 50 countries, the industry consortium is among the three largest public relations organizations in the world. “From less than a dozen agencies four decades back, PROI now serves over 5,000 corporations with more than 5,000 employees globally,” says Allard van Veen, PROI Worldwide Managing Director

The opportunities are all the more apparent in Asia and Australia. With more than 4.4 billion people, and an aggregate GDP of over $24 trillion, Asia Pacific is the world’s largest economic powerhouse. The region is also expected to achieve the fastest economic growth rates in a world that has vacillated between expansion and contraction in the last five years.

“Consultants thrive in this environment of confusion, where there is a clear need for people who can point the way forward,” says Lena Soh-Ng, Senior Partner at Huntington Communications and Co-Chair of PROI Asia-Pacific Crisis Group. “We provide options that minimize risks, and corporations, personalities, and the government place a lot of value in these options when there are great opportunities ahead,” Ms. Soh-Ng adds.

Mirroring the strategic importance of the region, PROI has expanded its partnership in Asia Pacific by more than 30 percent in the last year alone. “Just in the last 12 months, we have added six new agencies to our roster, bringing our network to 17 organizations, from 11 last year,” said Mr. van Veen.

 

PROI Worldwide is the longest-running partnership of public relations agencies, founded in 1970. Since then, PROI has grown to encompass 75+ partner agencies with 5,000+ PR professionals across five continents, 50 countries and 100+ cities.

Banner image: Wikimedia Commons

5 Ways PR Can Maximize Thought Leadership

Repost from Crenshaw Communications, partner of PROI

In the public relations world, thought leadership is a big deal, but the term can start to feel old, fast. How do you infuse a thought leadership program with fresh ideas and get the most out of it for PR?

Thought leaders are often defined as the leading authorities in their field of mastery and opinion. On top of strong expertise and visibility, it’s about being able to motivate, provide insight, and influence others. For many who work in specialized niches, like B2B technology or high-end interior design, thought leadership is highly desirable, helping to improve a brand’s reputation and even its bottom line.

Here are some essentials worth considering when looking to maximize a thought leadership program.

Be strategic with bylines. Byline articles or essays on an issue or topic, carrying an exec’s byline, that are pitched and placed for publication in media are often a core of a thought leadership program. But these pieces pack more punch when timed strategically within a company’s overall PR efforts. For example, if your B2B PR plan includes a new product launch in email marketing software, it pays to push that piece on new best practices for email marketing a week or so after the product launch, when the buzz is still fresh and interest and engagement is likely to be higher.

Collaborate on ideas for written pieces. Collaboration is key to crafting the most high-impact written pieces, whether bylines or speeches or messaging for a website. As the expert, you have the authority on what’s most current in the field, but working collaboratively with your PR partners will ensure the angle or narrative is most relevant and media-friendly. And needless to say, a byline in a relevant industry publication is a great complement, and in some ways works harder than, your own blog post.

Host an intimate, high-impact panel. This is the ultimate way to “own the conversation” and control the message, since you’re the host of the entire event. Focus a panel discussion on the topic closest to your heart, to showcase the depth of your expertise and invite coverage. Be sure to document everything. Your PR team can then turn the assets into byline articles and white papers after the fact, in addition to generating media coverage, as we did here for a client after a successful event.

Be selective about speaking engagements. Once a baseline level of expertise and visibility is achieved, you can expect inbound requests for speaking engagements to start coming your way. It can be tempting to say yes to everything, but we see “speaker fatigue” setting in quickly among thought leaders, leading to diminished value for the time invested. The key isn’t in numbers, it’s in speaking to the right audiences — a key question PR likes to keep top of mind.

Write the book. Not everyone has the material to write a book, but if you do, publishing a book has never been easier than it is now, especially if you’re open to self-publishing. Among other advantages, being the author of a new book is a calling card PR can use to create fresh media opportunities.

When executing a thought leadership plan, it’s important to keep expectations reasonable, so no one’s disappointed, but by all means, have a vision and focus, and challenge yourself to live up to it.