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    Online observations of public relations, marketing, advertising and social media; the occasional frivolity; and The Rundown show notes. Jump in, the water's fine.

    Please Note: Everything posted on this blog is my personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the views of my employer or its constituents.

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Sensationalist Ad Hater Headline Here

Super Bowl season is right around the corner as everyone who doesn’t live under a rock or in a perpetual hallucinatory state knows. Even me, a staunch hockey-only fan, can’t escape the ebb and flow of the communication efforts that surround the Super Bowl like a pr/ad gravitational pull. Uh, within limits, of course, I actually have a hockey game Sunday night that I’ll gladly be lacing my skates up for.

But my real reason for writing is this. I just wrote a seemingly anti-ad post, followed by a rather defensive comment. But it wasn’t the ads or concepts of ads I was opposing; it was the obnoxious way in which they’re forced upon us.

Truth be told, they can work. Julia Hood from PRWeek US wrote a great article (subscription required?) titled It’s not taboo for PR to admit that ads do work sometimes. Which, besides being a fantistic title, is also true. She goes into detail about buying a pair of Bose headphones. In addition to telling us how much Julia is willing to pay for a pair of headphones, it also tells us that PR pros are capable of paying attention to ads. She writes:

“What drove me to Bose’s online ordering page wasn’t the ad alone. It was the brand’s power, as understood through multiple channels over time, including product placement, ads, word of mouth, and media mentions.”

And that is the power of PR to which I was referring in my aforementioned blog comment. It’s a complicated network of messages over time. It’s no wonder ROI is so crazy and unpredictable. You can only really ever bet on the largest category of subjects to respond to any certain mix of stimuli at any snapshot in time. And what a ridiculous bet that would be! You’d never take those odds in Vegas, ever.

And this is also why I think an integrated marketing approach is the best, most solid, and respectable approach to the bottom line of any organization. Ads alone won’t do it, PR alone may won’t do it, R&D won’t do it, the brand alone won’t do it. C’mon, if it were that easy, wouldn’t we have already done it?

And I hate to admit it, but blogs and podcats aren’t the answer either. New tools are fantastic resources and present outstanding opportunties to convey messages in different ways, but it comes down to the message and the audience. And that’s another great power of PR, it should be the steward of your organization/brand message. PR is more than publicity, it is the champion for your communication efforts. Call it marketing communication if you want, but you’re missing something. It’s the whole process of communicating to every possible public (think target audience) that needs to hear your message. I also feel that PR folk need to be able to be the unpopular kids at the table and keep the strategy on track, regardless of how new or cool something is. If it doesn’t fit the message, don’t do it. So, in conclusion, I’ll wrap up with Julia’s concluding statement:

“Don’t be afraid to admit that ads sometimes work and blogs sometimes don’t. In order to secure their future, PR pros need to be the bravest people in the room and tell it like it really is.”

Readers V. Viewers

Readers vs. viewers, which is better for blog stats? Upon discovery of “Feed Stats” now a part of the WordPress service offerings, I am curious. In the feed stats it tells Luke and I how many people read our blog each day through a particular service, like the ever so handy Bloglines. As a future PR-pro, I would think knowing how many people read a blog might be more valuable than viewers. But who is to say that “viewers” are not reading our blog just because they do not do so through a feed. Any thoughts or further insight?

PR ROI PDQ, WTH?

How many articles have I read on the subject, how many podcasts have I listened to lamenting the lack of it, how much time is wasted talking about ROI and measurement for PR, when no one can seem to come right out with an answer? Well, there’s probably a reason for that. It’s hard.

By why is it so difficult?

Don’t ask me, I’m a student. So I’m going to list a few resources to check out and then maybe we can have a discussion here about it. I’d be interested in how you or your organizations measure the effectiveness of public relations. What measurements do you use? What metrics? How do you justify your position, your work, your daily activities. I’ve worked for a company that basically called any free publicity “public relations” I use to grind my teeth to stubs every time they did it, but I just kept my mouth shut. I was freelancing, invited in, and not working there very often. Obviously they were looking for publicity, client’s name in publications anywhere, for any reason. What this was doing, I’m not sure, but it was what I was getting paid for. I also recently interviewed with an organization that clipped articles, counted column inches, and told their clients that they were getting ten times worth the advertising space for a fraction of the cost. It was a vehicle enthusiast industry, so it worked for them. But what else?

So we’ve put together case studies, metrics, checklists, lessons learned articles to get you through the day, the week, the year in PR. And we’ve also culled experts from corporations, agencies, consultancies and academics to share their expertise on the subject.

  • Dr. Linda Childers Hon has done extensive research on the subject. I’ve read a few of the articles. Good case studies, excellent ideas, research, and metrics.
  • KD Paine’s PR Measurement Blog is an interesting read. There’s a link to this site on our sidebar.
  • PR Newswire’s White Paper “Using Media Intelligence Tools to Drive Communications Success,” by Nancy Sells, vice president, PR Newswire is also a good resource. Go here to request the free whitepaper.

So there are some resources to check out. I’m VERY interested in what others have to say about this. Do you work someplace where they measure the PR? Do you have metrics for your work? How does your dominant coalition (management team) view the role of PR or communication? Are you married to marketing and the sales determines success? Let me know your thoughts on this measurement, evaluation, justification issue…we’re listening.