In 1971, the American scholar Herbert Simon wrote that “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Not surprisingly in the age of information overload, we have become dependent on circles of friends, family and colleagues to help us decide what’s worth reading and watching. The Facebook status updates, tweets and blog posts of people whose opinions we trust to determine which content warrants our precious time, and this “social news filtering,” has huge implications for communications professionals. As these content-filtering clans strengthen and grow more intimate, landing a mention for your client on a popular news site or blog may no longer serve as the definition of success for public relations professionals on the Web. Increasingly, savvy clients and bosses are asking that you prove not just that people saw the mention, but that they recommended it to others.
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Tags: buiding social media communities, buzz+building, measurement, social media measurement, social media metrics, social+marketing campaigns
Just a few decades ago, most workers made “something.” The economy was defined by industrial output, and jobs usually involved manufacturing products, extracting natural resources or handcrafting tangible things. Those types of job still exist today, but we now live in a world in which the “service economy” — or the increased importance of the service sector, of which public relations is a part — is a much larger economic force.
Of course, public relations professionals produce “things” too. We write plans, conceive ideas and organize and conduct events — but writing plans and generating ideas isn’t really what we do.
To calculate a return on investment, you need to connect the communication you did with a change in audience behavior, because virtually all behaviors have a financial impact for an organization. If employees or customers or reporters do something differently, it will result in either an increase in revenues or a decrease in costs. This means you will not be able to calculate ROI based on an increase in awareness or knowledge or an improved opinion. Until knowledge and attitudes result in a behavior change, you have nothing to attach a monetary value to.
Once you quantify the behavior change, usually with the help of others in your marketing, HR or operations departments who monitor those behaviors as part of their jobs, you need to identify how much credit you can take for the resulting behavior change. It’s easiest to do this for situations where no one else was trying to influence a particular behavior so you can take 100 percent of the credit. For example, one friend of mine used communication to get employees to use a special access code before dialing long distance. The telecommunication manager gave her communication full credit for the resulting increase in the percentage of calls made using the access code, which resulted in a $20,000 a month cost savings.
In a recent BurrellesLuce survey, 63 percent of respondents expressed a desire to demonstrate public relations effectiveness. Of those respondents, 44 percent apply qualitative metrics (such as key messages and prominence) to their media coverage, while 42 percent primarily use quantitative metrics. The enlightening results: One in five practitioners who believe demonstrating public relations effectiveness is most important is doing nothing to measure it.
I believe the only way to truly demonstrate public relations effectiveness requires a holistic reporting program properly aligned with your overarching corporate objectives. This means having a tiered approach to managing media relationships according to their priority for your business. The better you are at public relations basics — good writing and good relationships — the better your results and efforts will resonate with your leadership.
There are 101 excuses why you “can’t” prove ROI or why your specific situation is so unique that metrics won’t help. At PRSA-NCC’s “Using Strategic Media Measurement to Showcase Your Success,” an event I attended last week, one public relations professional told a big truth. She said, “I know I should be doing more, but I’m a coward.” Similar to other practitioners of the coward’s way, she provides the technically oriented just what they want: hard numbers. She reports “impressions and AVE” rather than the true impact, value and influence of good media relations.
Katie Delahaye Paine, cheif executive officer, KDPaine & Partners, opened up the session by giving an overview of 21st century public relations measurement. Paine stressed, data is what you need to keep your job. You become what you measure.
Key take-aways from this session:
- Outputs: time on site, repeat visits, forwards, links and comments
- Outtakes: relationships, tone/content of conversation and membership
- Outcomes: click thus, donations/orders and signups
- The measurement engagement consists of conversation index, relationship studies and engagement index. Measure the interaction.
- There are 27 types of conversation.
- The Seven Steps of Social Media ROI:
- Define the ‘R’ – What are the expected results?
- Define the ‘I’ – What is the investment?
- Understand your audiences and what motivates them.
- Define the metrics.
- Determine what you are benchmarking against.
- Pick a tool and undertake research.
- Analyze results and glean insight, take action and measure again.
Tags: engagement, measurement, social media ROI
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