On Vacation

Happy Thanksgiving!
Be back in December.

Don't Forget What You Learned In PR 101

Sometimes it's the simple things that help ya get the INK.
  • Are you accessing the client CEO's travel schedule - a lot? If you do, that's great...but are you checking on it weekly (every...single...week) to see how you might fit some media appointments into the calendar on an on-going, rolling basis?
  • Are you aware of the Big Things going on around the industry? For example, last month Bill Gates issued one of his decennial memos about the major threats challenging Microsoft's domination. Ten years ago it was the Internet. Now it's Internet Software Services on his mind. So: how are your clients getting ahead of the hype wave that's going to begin cresting, now that Mr. Gates has set the media's agenda (to a degree)? What does your client have to say (that is relevant and compelling, 'natch!) about the Software-As-A-Service trend?
  • Are you making friends? One of our new PR stars has set herself a goal of meeting for drinks or dinner with a reporter... every...single...night. She has a ton of reporters from all over the place linked to her IM account. These folks are her friends, not just names on a pitch list. As a result, her client's last press tour enjoyed extensive coverage, stemming from 50-odd appointments.
  • Are you cultivating the Illusion of Inclusion? Let's face it, reporters are people, and every person I have ever met likes to feel important. So what are you doing to make sure that important reporters feel like they are part of your client's "inner circle?" Do they get to see your press releases before they hit the wires? Do they know that they'll see advance information before their competitors? Do they feel as if they could call you, or your client CEO, at any hour, to get real-time, real-world input for a story?
  • Are you using the right tools & approach? Services like Bacons, etc., are great for finding out that a certain reporter prefers email ("no attachments!") over phone calls. But sometimes you need to dig a little deeper. For example, we have a client who's technology could help revolutionize video games... but frankly, the guys at PC Gamer aren't keen on this angle - they are accustomed to receiving CDs, tsotschkes, etc. in the mail: in their world, "PR" is about getting new stuff to play with more than it's about the evolution of gaming technology. So we won't come calling until we have a rockin' demo that they can plug into their Alienware systems.

Simple stuff. PR 101. But, so often it is the little things that will win the day. The ongoing success of any PR program relies on the right access, the right audience, the right actions. The road to success is paved with good tactics.

Scare Yourself To The "Max"

Seth Godin recently posted on a concept he's calling "Local Max." In a nutshell, he's telling us to "break on through to the other side." The Local Max is that point in the life of your business where proven strategies continue to bear fruit...yet it's often also at this point where you yearn for "the next level" in your company's evolution. The key, according to Seth, is that, "You can't reinvent yourself and your organization until you deal with the fear of point C." (You gotta check the link to Seth's blog, at this point: the accompanying graphic is important.)

I feel that the PR industry has reached its own Local Max, specifically in regards to measurement issues. We are all too happy to turn the task over to 3rd parties like Biz360, Cymfony, etc. This bugs me. No offense to these vendors, but they are all of 5 years old, and yet have more credibility than PR mavens when it comes to the how-to's of PR measurement?

If we've abdicated this role and responsibility, is it because we're more comfortable at our Local Max point? Are we too afraid to face the pain of "Point C" in Seth's graph?

That's where SHIFT is at, frankly, with our LeadSensor offering. Despite offering a kick-ass solution for measuring marketing ROI (yes, Virginia, that includes PR ROI), we're just now starting to make headway. It was a painful 2+ years to develop this system. It's painful today to walk a client through an explanation of the methodology. It's painful to have to explain that, yea, sorry, but this ROI measurement service costs extra.

But we'll keep pluggin' away - for ourselves but also on behalf of the PR industry, too - because we're not afraid of the pain; we can see that "Big Max" milestone on the distant horizon.

Meaty, Marvelous, Magnificent Metrics

At last, validation!

I am not crazy!

PR's impact on Sales can be measured.

Of course, I've said as much for months. But hey, I am biased - both as a PR guy, and, as the principal at a firm that has already developed a credible, replicable methodology for tying PR to sales.

I daresay that Procter & Gamble Co. is not nearly as biased.

I was THRILLED to read the November 7, 2005 cover story in Advertising Age, in which P&G's Charlotte Otto, global external relations officer, discusses the company's newly-unveiled PREvaluate system, which "combines marketing-mix models with detailed data on media impressions..." (Not sure what that means, but it sounds cool!)

Hallelujah, Corporate America is getting the measurement religion. P&G has a long-standing reputation for being a savvy and metrics-driven, forward-thinking marketer. They are a bellwether. This is the beginning of the next stage of measurement, methinks.

My favorite quote by Otto: "This has been the age-old problem in the PR business: 'Fine, like your clips, but show me the bottom line' ... Now we can do it ... People's jaws dropped when we showed them this data ... We are at such low levels of the marketing mix [for PR], generally less than 1%, that there is definitely upside business potential."

I have to say that as excited as I am by this news item (and by its cover-story placement), there were some troubling bits.

Most notably, wherever the Ad Age journalist took a stab at describing PREvaluate, it sounded a whole lot like Media Content Analysis; how these results were tied back to P&G's sales was unclear.

Also, if many marketers hear about this - which they should - they'll no doubt expect it to be offered by agencies for free. And PR budgets being what they are (remember that 1% figure, above!?), that could represent a huge bite out of PR funding, if agencies handle the question poorly.

But, enough of that. By now you are no doubt wondering how PR did in P&G's test?

"For four (of the six brands tested), PR had a higher return on investment than any other medium or marketing tool, and for the other two, it came in second."

We should not fear Measurement, my friends. We should embrace it. The accurate measurement of PR's impact on Sales will be the salvation of the PR industry.