PR Week’s Measurement Roundtable: Further Analysis
PR-ROI Editor’s Note: This roundtable discussion featured PRIME Research CEO, Mark Weiner, and ny Gershkoff, global director of analytics from Mercedes-Benz
The business value of PR measurement and ongoing standardization efforts were just two topics covered as industry leaders joined Gideon Fidelzeid in New York for this BurrellesLuce-hosted roundtable.
Johna Burke, SVP, BurrellesLuce
Heidi D’Agostino, head of insights and research, Ogilvy Public Relations
Geoff Day, director of communications, Mercedes-Benz
Amy Gershkoff, global director of analytics, Burson-Marsteller
Laura Howe, VP of PR, American Red Cross
Molly McKenna Jandrai, director of PR, McDonald’s
Tim Marklein, practice leader, technology and analytics, W2O Group
Frank Ovaitt, president and CEO, Institute for Public Relations
Eve Stevens, VP, Insight & Analytics, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide
Mark Weiner, CEO, Prime Research
Primary consideration Gideon Fidelzeid (PRWeek): Discuss the growing importance of primary research in conceptualizing PR programs.
Johna Burke (BurrellesLuce): Without primary research and establishing that initial benchmark, people don’t know the trends. They don’t know if they’re growing or diminishing in voice, in perception, in the realities of everything they’re trying to measure. So many times, we use information as a post-view instead of a preview, which would help us get a better understanding and set solid goals against which we would be able to measure. So many people are also using social media as that initial survey or using it to replace some of that other primary research. That’s a challenge because it is just a sampling of a sampling and there are a lot of squeaky wheels who don’t necessarily speak on behalf of the overall brand.
Heidi D’Agostino (Ogilvy Public Relations): The media and consumer environments are changing so rapidly, you can’t assume you know everything because of the past. You always have to take a gut check of where you are and use that to fuel and refine your programs before moving them forward.
Eve Stevens (Waggener Edstrom Worldwide): There is a growing nearness of customers to companies. Primary research lets you have that direct lens with the customer more frequently and more transparently.
Frank Ovaitt (Institute for Public Relations): If you have a speedometer, odometer, and compass in your car, you can gauge its progress. But if you’re going nowhere with no plan to get there, it doesn’t matter a whole lot. Several have spoken of primary research as what you do as original research. That’s a very expensive thing to do if you haven’t already tapped existing knowledge, which is never free, but never as expensive as doing your own primary research. You need to go into your primary research with a strong hypothesis about what you’re trying to show or accomplish that will give you a starting point for directing your PR program.
Geoff Day (Mercedes-Benz): We ask our customers something 5 million times a year, so there’s a lot of information we already have in terms of primary research. My job is to take that and map it on top of some of the things I’m doing uniquely from a PR perceptive. That gives you a much better picture.
Amy Gershkoff (Burson-Marsteller): You used to do primary research, run a campaign, and measured what happened after. What’s exciting now is the ability to do real-time measurement and research so that you can optimize your messaging in real time and integrate that research throughout the entire campaign, not just before and after.
Mark Weiner (Prime Research): The glue that brings together PR and other forms of marketing and communications is the customer. And primary research in the form of surveys provides guidance to every communicator throughout the organization about which vehicles have the greatest credibility and potential impact among our target audience. Surveys and, to a degree, media analysis enable a greater coherence and integration throughout the organization, not just within communications.
Tim Marklein (W2O Group): Primary research is crucial because you can’t get to stakeholder attitudes and perceptions and really understand what’s impacting their behavior without that analysis. However, the usage of primary research is not increasing in PR for a couple of reasons. One, the data is not real time. So doing a once- or twice-a-year survey doesn’t necessarily give you the same richness of insight as real-time analytics, which are becoming more popular. Second, because social media data is so prevalent, people are using that as a barometer for what the public thinks. However, it’s not reflective of the total conversation people are having. A third challenge is that PR is not increasing budget behind research. The savvier ones are doing a better job of leveraging the research that’s already done, but every PR person needs to do that. They also must insert themselves earlier into the process to make sure the right questions are being asked and that they’re getting the insights they need to drive the real-time dynamic conversation and not just the marketing program.
Day (Mercedes-Benz): We’re having a conversation about measurement like it’s what every PR department does across America, but they don’t. I probably spend about half of a cent of my entire budget on measurement and I don’t think that’s enough, but that’s probably ten times more than a lot of people are spending.
Stevens (WE): A lot more clients are asking for that research because they, all of a sudden, are reawakening to the customer. It’s as if there’s this reemergence of needing that direct tap into that vein.
D’Agostino (Ogilvy): Companies are realizing the power customers have today. Customers are actually empowered to connect with brands, to drive brands. The conversations companies have had with consumers in the past, where they just track their awareness and their favorability, they now understand that they must evaluate the influence of their average consumer.
Day (Mercedes-Benz): Customers never went anywhere, they just have a voice now. And we can hear it and measure it. Laura Howe (American Red Cross): Primary research gives us a picture over time of what people think of our organization. If you can couple that with real-time data, you can get a very – or at least somewhat – complete picture of the public opinion landscape.
Marklein (W2O): PR has always seen that it’s a real-time conversation and that storytelling is critical, but marketing has had more of a programatic approach to driving it. A big part of what we do is real-time analytics. A couple of years ago, the market research groups within our client base were kind of ignoring what we were doing. Now they’re saying, “OK, we need to internalize and embrace what you’re doing and bring that into the market research discipline more.”
Day (Mercedes-Benz): That’s funny. Years ago, I had a VP of marketing who reminded me that it’s marketing that owns the customer conversation. And now they’re finding out just how little they actually owned it and how that conversation has been led more by PR departments.
Weiner (Prime): One of the great opportunities through primary research is rediscovering who the customer really is, which messages they consider to be compelling and credible for your organization, and which media channels or forms of communication are most likely to have an impact. And while we’re talking about primary research as a tracking tool, it’s also irreplaceable as a formative intelligence tool in planning and conceptualizing programs from the beginning so that resources are spent more wisely over time.
Gershkoff (Burson): The tools available for use in research have changed pretty dramatically. It’s not limited to those surveys you can do a few times a year. You can now do Web panels to look at your traffic. That’s a form of data and research that can give you insight into what customers are thinking and whether your messages and stories are resonating.
Ovaitt (IPR): If you look at the GAP Studies by USC Annenberg, the amount people are spending on research and measurement has seen a steady march up. Many people still do nothing, but there is pretty good evidence that people are starting to understand that to be effective in PR, you have to do your research and measurement.
D’Agostino (Ogilvy): We’ve had clients ask us to do primary research because they want to understand whether the conversation that’s happening in social media is actually generating traction among the general population, or even opinion elites or business elites. We need to understand what drives that conversation and how to best make recommendations on how to deal with it.
Howe (Red Cross): Social media is the bright shiny object and people think that’s where the conversation is happening, but a lot of research can show you that there are multiple places where conversations and engagement can happen.
Stevens (WE): That’s where I’m seeing clients starting to go. This is very nascent, but I’m seeing that layering and the notion that, “OK, social isn’t everything and media still exists to layer and be able to see the entirety of the prism.”
Marklein (W2O): Different research methodologies have tended to live in silos. Traditional media analysis, social media and monitoring, Web and search traffic, and market research were all in different places. Our big opportunity is to leverage those different research methodologies across disciplines and get out of these silos that have limited our ability to get to the true insight needed to drive programs.
Molly McKenna Jandrain (McDonald’s): We’re trying to be more creative in our research because management is really seeing the value of doing it from the beginning. We’ve definitely used it to adjust our tone and voice and to be more authentic in our communication. It’s really making some traction.
Burke (BurrellesLuce): It’s all about targeting your audience. Those getting their news from Facebook might not be the audience that can afford a luxury brand. So understanding where those voices are is important. It’s important to think generationally about whether these people are your future customers and how they’re going to evolve and grow.
Media analysis Fidelzeid (PRWeek): How much is media analysis impacting business decisions?
Weiner (Prime): The work we’re doing now for clients through traditional and social media analysis is enabling us to inform much bigger business decision-making, which ought to make PR people really happy.
Marklein (W2O): Media analysis and media intelligence has gone from something you do once a quarter to something you do every day, every week, every month. If there’s a crisis, you’re doing it every minute, every hour. The impact of that is so huge because decisions at companies are made at least weekly and monthly. For certain situations, you need that data on a daily or hourly basis. The change in the timing and ability to measure has really made an impact because it’s fitting within the cycles of the decisions clients are making.
Day (Mercedes-Benz): We make decisions on a daily basis, but with some of the research we now have in real time and some of the trending research, we’re making better quality decisions about where budgets should be spent, about our messaging, about the audiences we’re talking to.
Stevens (WE): Businesses are trying to edge away from using it as an indicator of business impact and wanting something more. That layering of saying, “This is the media impact, this is the audience impact, and this is the business impact.” I see clients wanting to go to that, but from an intelligence point of view and an analytics point of view.
Weiner (Prime): One form of business-outcome measurement is marketing mix modeling. It is a way of incorporating lots of different streams of data to understand better where sales revenue originates in terms of the relative impact of different marketing elements. For the reasons that prevent other forms of research from delivering timely continuous streams of data about what kind of information is appearing at marketplace, media analysis works very well to represent what’s happening culturally throughout the marketplace in ways that, traditionally anyway, surveys haven’t been able to do. Media analysis is able to show the degree to which PR contributes.
D’Agostino (Ogilvy): It’s not always, “I placed this ad and I got a sale. This story ran on the front page of The New York Times and my sales increased by this much.” It’s the ability to show that there’s a relationship between all of these different marketing disciplines. It’s not always direct, but we can show a relationship.
Day (Mercedes-Benz): For me, it’s not just about a sale. It’s about brand loyalty. Media evaluation is still a great way of showing how loyal customers are.
Jandrain (McDonald’s): We’re all about brand reputation because we’re in a reputation economy. That’s what drives people to make purchasing decisions. It’s not just about a product. This notion of research and how it’s impacting the perceptions of the brand and how we can better use it is so relevant.
We don’t have a knee-jerk reaction of seeing a big spike of negative media and immediately making a business decision to shift that. We look at long-term trends, tone, and sentiment and think about how we can change the way we’re positioning something or change the way we do something from a business perspective.
Gershkoff (Burson): An interesting barrier to connecting media analysis and measurement to business outcomes is that often marketing, communications, PR are the only parts of the C-suite looking backwards in the analysis. To solidify that link between media and marketing and PR in business outcomes, we need to engage in less retrospective modeling and more predictive modeling, in less backward-looking measurement and more forward-looking business intelligence.
Marklein (W2O): Because of that real-time analytics focus, people are using the data to do something they didn’t used to do in communications – test and measure.
A very simple example: We took over a client’s Twitter handle. They asked us how many Tweets they should do a day. For one week, we did five a day. The next week, we did 10 a day. The next week, we did 15 a day. We looked at the metrics to see what was working and what wasn’t, which led to new questions about how many of those Tweets should be engagement oriented versus promotion oriented, but we could do that on a day-to-day basis.
Howe (Red Cross): Measurement is forcing PR pros to be much more nimble. You can see whether a message is working and you can change that message almost on the fly and in very real time. The key will be getting the business decision-makers in your organization to catch up and be as nimble as you can be with the message.
Marklein (W2O): In this battle between marketing and PR, one of PR’s disadvantages is its lack of historical use of data and measurement. Our challenge as an industry is to use the data better than anybody else because our tools to be able to impact the market are actually better than a lot of the other disciplines.
Value or vanity Fidelzeid (PRWeek): Many organizations are really focused on qualitative measurement, but “vanity” metrics are still prevalent in informing PR programs. Is there still a place for the latter?
Ovaitt (IPR): Before the term “vanity” metrics, we used the term “boxcar numbers.” My experience has been those never go away. Ideally, you’ll find more intelligent ways to get beneath that, but the vanity metrics will still be there. And they are better than nothing because at least it gives you the opportunity to learn and go deeper.
Burke (BurrellesLuce): So many times, people discount some of the traditional media, but that independent endorsement is valuable from someone who doesn’t have a horse in the race but is simply looking out for readers. Understanding what’s that first pebble that causes that ripple effect is incredibly powerful in really understanding the impetus of the story.
When we look at vanity metrics, it’s because everybody is seduced by the easy to capture. And in PR, we do feel that mounting pressure of marketing being able to synthesize and aggregate the data that we’re more touchy feely about.
Is something better than nothing? Sometimes yes, but sometimes nothing is preferable because it’s better to say you don’t understand the answer to what I think your question is, as opposed to throwing that information at something to not identify a solution-based orientation. That’s where PR struggles with credibility, it struggles with that voice because it doesn’t matter how many things you’re slicing and dicing. If at the end of the day, there isn’t enough pie for everybody who wants to eat, you have a problem.
You need to understand where are those impact points and how do you touch them. Those trends and correlations are incredibly powerful as predictors. If none of us studied history, it would make it a lot harder for us to understand what’s coming down the tracks. It’s better to strive for something that’s accurate, qualitative, and meaningful and use that to push forward and tell a story, as opposed to something that is shallow and easy to grab.
Weiner (Prime): This notion of vanity metrics is really under the control of the executives to whom PR people report and how they define value. And the challenge is enhanced because values change not just from one organization to the next, but from one person to another within an organization. So understanding the value system, helping executives recognize the difference between a vanity metric and a more meaningful metric is a responsibility we have. At the end of the day, though, it’s their definition of value that we must incorporate into our own.
Marklein (W2O): This is a consultative challenge we must step up to. If we think there are bad metrics being used, we have to be consultants in that dialogue. And picking a few vanity metrics that tend to be used, such as AVEs, number of fans, and number of followers, they’re not invalid, but are only meaningful up to a point. And a PR pro needs to know how they can be used, have the conversation so they don’t get used the wrong way, and show the better ways to be able to measure the value.
Stevens (WE): We’ve gotten more sophisticated about adding quality to the conversation. And we’re already moving beyond pure tone to opinion and recommendation. Measuring the development of advocacy and evangelism while adding in the breadth and depth is something I’ve seen us start doing more.
Day (Mercedes-Benz): A PR pro’s job is not just taking a blanket piece of research and dropping it on the CEO’s table. It’s shaping all of the measurement you have and creating a story that tells a good picture of where you are and where you’re going.
Gershkoff (Burson): Any one metric, no matter how accurate, is only one piece of data. To tell a story, we must knit together multiple pieces of data to provide that context that gives us full information about what the data means.
D’Agostino (Ogilvy): It’s only a vanity metric if you don’t put it in context and back it up with other intelligence. There isn’t anything wrong with the numbers themselves. It’s about telling a reliable and consistent story and filling the gaps.
Howe (Red Cross): Getting into the minds of the people who are asking for those metrics is very important. I can go to one area of my organization and that answer will be very different than if I go to the fundraising arm. This is why we need industry standards on measurement. We would be able to enter those conversations and instead of having to negotiate and guess what people want out of metrics, we’d have industry standards that would present a defining point for conversations within our own organizations.
Weiner (Prime): Non-PR executives demand measurement, but don’t know enough about PR to make any suggestions. PR people know they need to measure, but don’t know enough about research to help define the conversations. There’s this dance that happens where basically nobody is making any progress. But through standardization, you start to have a more well-balanced conversation about what we should be doing.
In search of standards Fidelzeid (PRWeek): This past June at the AMEC European Summit on Measurement, the Coalition for Public Relations Research Standards released interim principles for PR measurement and research. This came on the heels of the Barcelona Principles of 2010 and 2011′s Valid Metrics Framework. Why are standards so important for PR pros? Are they even feasible?
Marklein (W2O): The goal of all the standardization efforts now is to look at how we actually break down the metrics we have and get consistency around what those key metrics are so that each individual PR pro, marketer, and CEO can pick the metrics that are most meaningful to that business and put them together in a way that can be measured on an ongoing basis. There might ultimately be 200, 300, or 400 different key performance indicators that matter to communications, but only 10 or 15 that matter to that individual organization.
The important thing to keep in mind about standards is that it’s not a single metric and it’s not a single list of metrics. It’s looking at a broad set of metrics and how we standardize those core component parts so you can put together the right machine for your organization.
Ovaitt (IPR): An industry does need to have input in proposing what the standards should be, but ultimately it is customers who decide that’s a standard. And they do so by saying, “That’s what we’re going to expect if you’re going to come to us as a research provider.”
We’re not trying to do away with innovation. Much like the IT world, you are trying to raise innovation to another level so you get a certain platform of standards that the clients say they’re expecting. Now people will innovate on top of that.
Weiner (Prime): So what’s the responsibility of the PR professional? Think about Mercedes-Benz. Through innovation, it has created safety systems that have become the standard, but only because the company shared it. So in a way, just as Mercedes knows what we ought to want, PR pros might know something about what our customers want to help guide them to the better standards.
Burke (BurrellesLuce): We’re great at telling a story, but when we have to tell our own story, it’s the cobbler’s children who have no shoes. So while the standards being discussed now can provide a framework, they can also provide some adoption model for what’s relevant.
There’s a much greater chance of PR pros increasing their business acumen and understanding how a business makes and spends money than there is the C-suite fully understanding the communication process and all of those tentacles that reach out into the marketplace. The impetus is on the PR pro to become a better businessperson. That’s the only thing that will give teeth and credibility to any metrics, whether they’re standards, whether they’re baseline, quantitative, or qualitative.
Day (Mercedes-Benz): Standards don’t live in PR isolation. They have to be relevant to the other business standards that are being measured by the C-suite.
Let’s take Mercedes’ C63 AMG wagon. We don’t spend a dime of marketing money on it. It’s all PR and we sell about 400 of those cars a year. So I know my PR activity sells cars. But that’s a small volume car and that standard, my PR standards, worked well. When we’re trying to shift 40,000 of a particular unit, PR won’t do that. It must be done across a number of other marketing communication disciplines. That’s why our standards have to sync with other business intelligence standards.
Gershkoff (Burson): The lines between marketing, PR, and advertising are all starting to blur. However, in terms of measurement, our attempts are still very siloed. Each arm measures its own way, but when executed optimally, PR should be amplifying, driving, and enhancing all of the activities happening across all channels. Until we, as an industry, come up with some integrated ways to measure, we’ll continue to struggle with this challenge.
In addition, many folks who talk about integrated measurements are actually engaging in integrated data assembly. Putting two metrics side-by-side is not the same as an integrated measurement strategy. An integrated measurement strategy means you’re actually deriving useful business intelligence out of data that’s crossing multiple departments within the organization. That’s an area PR pros should be driving forward.
Weiner (Prime): Such data-integration models are happening at lots of companies and it amazes me that PR is absent from the model. It’s very rare for PR to lead it, but when PR pros do contribute, they are warmly welcomed by the modelers who are seeking to derive better business insights.
Stevens (WE): To the point of having it not happen in silos, I really am excited about the Social Media Measurement Standards Conclave because it is bringing together multiple organizations. And it’s not just looking at it from a PR point of view. When we are not navel-gazing, we’re stronger for it. Standards are actually an opportunity to talk in a roundtable setting versus just in isolation.
Marklein (W2O): Historically, we’ve wasted too much time innovating at lower levels, debating whether sentiment should be on a three-point or five-point scale and such. That’s where we need to standardize.
Look at the IT industry and how it was able to push to a higher value in the types of things that you have on your phone now. It’s because they standardized the component parts and then Google put those together to be able to do amazing things. That would not have happened unless you had industry-standard servers and software to build upon.
Weiner (Prime): The idea that metrics or analytics is just about the tool is a very dangerous myth within PR and measurement now. It’s not about signing up for a tool and being satisfied. It’s what you do with the information that’s derived from the tool, the accuracy of the tool, the consultation, the storytelling, and the decision-making that comes as a result of it. Once standards happen, there might be 500 companies that are doing these kinds of automated delivering of tools. The game is going to get really fast and furious once the standards hit.
D’Agostino (Ogilvy): Our standards must ladder up to the business case for the C-suite. Talking in our own language will not help us.
Identifying influencers Fidelzeid (PRWeek): How has the growing sophistication of PR measurement changed the identity of the influencer?
Jandrain (McDonald’s): We have tried to use our research to focus on our influencers and really target our messages based on that. We’re seeing that somebody has 20,000 followers, but do any of them really care about your brand? Are any of their followers actually listening? Conversely, you could have someone with 200 followers who is very engaged. That person is an influencer who will impact your message and take it forward. We’re targeting key influencers who will carry our message forward versus just reaching thousands of people. Research and being more targeted in our approach help us do that.
Howe (Red Cross): For us, it’s about who is going to carry our message, but also who’s going to act on it. That’s the key piece where there is still a gap in social media measurement. We just don’t know how people are acting on it.
That whole concept has expanded our universe of influencers. They aren’t just writers or editors anymore. They’re real people. It could be an 18-year-old kid who can mobilize all his friends to carry on your message and get them to act. The influencer has changed from someone who used to be in a lofty position to a real-world consumer of your message or product. That’s a dynamic shift.
Gershkoff (Burson): We can count the number of Twitter followers, say you’re influential if you have a lot and you’re not influential if you don’t, but that’s a terrible way to conceptualize who has influence. You want to think about who the person is influencing, what gets done with that information, and about what topics are they influential in. There are all these other layers that will be much more important in driving business outcomes that we care about.
Day (Mercedes-Benz): I still want good reviews, so that third-party endorsement of traditional media is very important. But every journalist now has a Twitter hashtag and, probably, a Facebook page. What I can do is look at what they’re following, whom they’re following, and what they’re saying on Twitter and Facebook. By measuring that, I can almost predict how they might behave to a message I give them. I’m getting a much deeper insight into the journalist’s mind.
Marklein (W2O): Measurement is helping get to a data-driven approach to influencer assessment and influencer engagement. Ten or 20 years ago, you would have a media database that was built on calling up a bunch of reporters to find out what they think they cover or what they say they cover. Now we look at the reality of what they actually cover. If you combine the data properly, you can precisely know who’s doing what and how.
In addition, it’s not just the individual influencer. It’s the system they’ve influenced. They know who is driving the influence on each other and how they’re sharing the content in this dynamic world we live in.
D’Agostino (Ogilvy): We must broaden our scope to also look at the detractors out there who have a broad network now to share their message. Sometimes, we get so focused on who’s going to advocate on our behalf that we don’t look at the people who are more neutral, who could potentially, if given the right story, write about us. We also must understand that some people will knock our stories. We must be ready for them as well.
Stevens (WE): A level playing field has developed to be able to
measure many types of influencers. I don’t think measurement has created them – they were there all along – but we now have the ability to expose them and bring them into the same circle as traditional influencers.
Weiner (Prime): There have always been influencers. It hasn’t always been the media. For some communities, it’s been the clergy. It’s one of the ways that primary research through surveys is irreplaceable in identifying those kinds of influencers.
But in talking about sophisticated PR metrics, there’s a company with whom we work that tracks transactions between merchants and banks. They’re tracking social media, traditional media, and lots of other factors. Imagine millions and millions of transactions around the world every day that they’re modeling statistically against social media, seeing on which social media channel things are being said and who said what. It’s huge. It’s something that never could have happened before. It’s leading their business decision-making, not just communications decision-making.
Ovaitt (IPR): There’s a social science of social media that we need to understand better. The way the human brain is wired hasn’t changed that much, but we, in a very short time, read a few posts and decide whose opinion we’re going to trust and follow. All we really know about that person is a screen name and a few posts they’ve made.
I’ve seen research, for example, that suggests that if you put a real picture of yourself it’s more credible. That’s probably true, but if you have something credible to say, you’re more likely to put your picture on it. At IPR, we’re trying to look at all the data and figure out who’s saying what and who’s really the influencer. It behooves us all to understand a little better what is it in the wiring of our brains that’s causing us to follow certain people.
Eye to the future Fidelzeid (PRWeek): Where do you see measurement going within the next six months to a year?
Burke (BurrellesLuce): The next six to 12 months will be especially interesting because of ongoing initiatives to identify some standards and framework. But for those to truly get teeth, there will have to be a CFO and a CEO as part of these baseline conversations, not just communications and marketing people.
Marklein (W2O): I see three. The move to analytics – especially real-time analytics – driven by new tools and methods. The second is standardization. The third, which is the biggest and probably poses the most opportunity, is the integration across disciplines, across channels, and across research silos. The more that organizations can step up to really drive that integration, the better insights we’ll get, which will lead to better programs, which will lead to more business impact.
Stevens (WE): Standards, business intelligence instead of analytics, and integrated measurement.
Ovaitt (IPR): The whole framework of organizational communication has been in a revival period for several years now. I just see that continuing. The same notion of analytics and data can be applied to that.
Howe (Red Cross): PR and communications people in any organization are often the ones who have the best ability to see across silos. You’re going to see more PR people leverage that ability and probably become better businesspeople themselves and learn other parts of their organization’s business so they can break down those silos. And they’ll take the metrics used by the more traditional business, sales, marketing portions of their organizations and then layer that on top of what they’re doing for a whole picture.
Gershkoff (Burson): There will be more integration of analysis and business-intelligence recommendations that span not just PR, but also marketing and advertising, to really create very integrated recommendations for clients. We’ll also start seeing increasingly predictive rather than retrospective analytics.
We’ll also develop tools that will help us better measure communications and PR activities happening overseas. In addition, we’ll see better integration and more leveraging of marketing data in making PR decisions.
Day (Mercedes-Benz): I’ll be looking for more predictive measurement and to have real-time analytics to see whether they’re hitting that mark.
D’Agostino (Ogilvy): The business environment will dictate what happens next. We don’t have the luxury of time. It’s integrate or be integrated. On the client side, it’s happening in order to ensure that they can tell their business case. From the agency side, we need to get moving while we still are empowered to do so rather than have our role dictated to us.
Weiner (Prime): At the end of the day, it’s about our ability to process that information at the speed of the business and the gravity of the decision that needs to be made. So while we continue to invest in technology and tools, the pendulum is going to swing back to the human element. The only way to derive insight to generate action is through a human element and the value of consultation.
Jandrain (McDonald’s): PR is only going to become more important as we continue in this reputation economy. Our clients, management teams, and even many PR pros don’t have access to all this information and they’re still selling impressions. We need to provide the context and education to get people to understand why we’re doing this. We have to retrain people’s thinking on our approach.
Measuring up: Numerous PR programs for the American Red Cross, McDonald’s, and Mercedes-Benz have been bolstered by measurement, including examples such as these:
In June, the American Red Cross launched its First Aid app. Its primary goal was to drive a high number of downloads in the first few days post-launch and then maintain a steady flow in succeeding weeks. “In cross-referencing daily earned media volume with daily app downloads, we found a spike in the latter when there were major broadcast hits or online placements,” says Laura Howe, VP of PR. The app was downloaded more than 600,000 times in its first six weeks. Analyzing media metrics behind the launch, adds Howe, has provided valuable insight into how to increase the app’s reach.
In launching Chicken McBites this January, McDonald’s sought to stay relevant among Millennials. Key tactics included a Hollywood-style launch party and a bite-sized video project that used crowdsourcing to create shareable online entertainment. By tracking views and engagement, McDonald’s identified which videos performed best and shifted PR plans accordingly. More than 256 million media impressions were generated, 95% positive or neutral in tone. The videos received 245,000- plus views and had a 20.28% social engagement rate – 15 points above average. In the four-week launch period, there was a 6% lift in overall chicken sales.
Relationships with reporters are vital in the luxury-car market. However, in recent years, the identity of “key” media influencers has changed. Measurement has allowed Geoff Day, communications director at Mercedes-Benz, to not only recognize and cultivate relationships with new contacts, but also learn that some journalists who have long been considered vital have actually lost some sway. “By using our measurement tools, we have radically recast the landscape for which influencers we work with in the traditional and social media communities,” notes Day. “This allows us to focus our messages better, but also maximize the return on our PR investment.”