I must apologize for being away for a little bit – – combination of life and writer’s block. That said, I’ve recommitted myself to my blog and I’m excited to get back on track. My goal is one blog a week.
I have several topics I want to discuss:
- Measuring media relations and public relations
- Branding and PR – – developing and protecting your brand; and the relationship PR needs to have in sustaining a healthy brand
- Social media – – not sure if everyone is sold on the role PR should have with social media
So, let’s start with measurement. I’ve been away from the agency scene for seven years and the ideas behind measurement have since evolved. Seven, 10 years ago aside from circulation, readership, listenership and viewership (as well as all the ships at sea) it was all about ad equivalency and public relations value. Ad equivalency was pretty straight forward.
The thinking being, how much it would cost you to place an ad with the given media for the placement. In other words, my client was part of a three-minute segment on the local news station. An ad on the local station cost X dollars for a :30 second spot, the ad value would be 6X. A quarter page ad cost X dollars in the local paper. We were part of a half page story. 2X.
Publicity Value factored in the third-party credibility of the story appearing in a trusted outlet as opposed to an ad. And this is where it got tricky. Depending on whom you would ask, the ad equivalency would be multiplied by two or 2.5 or three or – I had some “peers” say – 3.5.
Now back then, we would also factor in tonality and messaging when talking measurement, but the pervading thought was to provide the client with a dollar figure to reconcile the cost of the campaign.
For me, it seemed like the industry had an inferiority complex and was trying to rationalize existence. I had several issues with the thinking. For example, it seemed disingenuous to always include the full ad equivalency for a segment that wasn’t completely about us (or an article). We were affixing the same value to a front page story and a paragraph on page twelve. The same value for a lead segment versus part of a kicker. What were we doing if we were mentioned in a tease? Or if we didn’t get all of our messages across?
Looking at today’s landscape, one could see more challenges with measuring and determining the value of a placement. What do you do with an online story? Or a blog? How do you measure the value of a Facebook post? A retweet?
While this could be looked at as more opportunities for PR inferiority and insecurities, I truly believe this is the time for PR to shine and show our value. For the last seven years, I’ve been on the corporate side of the house and the best chance for anything PR to be viewed as valuable is when we have “a seat at the table” and are part of the process in determining the following with company executives:
- What are the desired results of the campaign? Whether it is increased sales, brand awareness, positioning the company as a leader, issues management, etc., get it out and agreed upon ahead of time.
- Embrace the story you are going to tell. Make sure you created the compelling messages for the appropriate audience. Will you attain your desired results with these messages? Is there a call to action? Is everyone on the same page?
- Agree on the messaging; what are the most important messages (“If I can only get one message in, it is X”), and make sure your spokesperson goes through good spokesperson training (I’d recommend having your main client contact and whatever executives you can, go through the training – – even if they aren’t your spokesperson. They will better understand the value of the placement).
- Tier the placements. Is your real audience reading, listening and watching the outlets you are approaching? What is the home run placement and why? Single, double, triple (sorry, baseball season – – go Yankees). Not necessarily suggesting a pay for play schedule. Understanding and agreeing on what is important is vital. This is also an opportunity to manage expectations and, if applicable, talk Crawl, Walk and Run.
- Discuss the marketing of the placement. Is there a sales force that can use the segment? Do you have a Facebook, Twitter or other social page that the story can be posted on? Are you able to monitor those who may post on their own or comment on the story (there are many services that do this)?
- Is it appropriate to survey before and after a campaign? Best to do so for issues management or brand awareness.
Ad equivalency can still be used (I wouldn’t) but it doesn’t provide a complete picture and – in many ways – undermines the true value of public relations. Stay clear of publicity value. You’ll find yourself arguing why you are multiplying two or three instead of relishing in the greatness of a placement.
As an industry, we need to strive to get into the board room (real or virtual) and have the ear of management. Not doing so will doom us to being a communications afterthought.