Friday, July 10, 2009

The Biz Value of PR 2.0

“I got to have (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)”
Aretha Franklin (Summer of 1967)

TPFKAPRP ("The People Formerly Known As PR People") need to learn (or be reminded) of the true business value of PR 2.0.

Atlanta-based Jeremy Porter has written an interesting article on his Journalistics blog entitled “How Do You Measure PR” that is well worth reading.

His article cites results from a recent AMEC and IPR survey of 525 PR practitioners on whether and how they measure PR success and ROI.

Jeremy’s post asks his audience how organizations can more easily and accurately measure PR results and “What are your clients or management teams asking for most in terms of measurement?”

His article (and comments made by its readers) suggest that in the PR 2.0 world conventional approaches like counting press clippings and measuring AVEs (Advertising value equivalent) is insufficient to truly measure the value of PR.

This comment to the article from the pre-eminent expert on PR measurement Katie Paine is as interesting as Jeremy’s post itself:

"The real problem is that PR people seem to be ignorant of or allergic to the language of business. They are incapable of understanding that just reaching a set of eyeballs or achieving a “hit” does nothing for the bottom line. Either PR saves the company money by lowering legal costs, or turnover, or recruitment costs or whatever the stated goal of the program is, or it makes the company money, by generating awareness, consideration, preference or leads. That’s how business people think. And if PR people can’t explain their benefit to the company in those terms, they deserve to be fired."

My thoughts:

As the definition of “PR” is changing, we need to find ways to articulate and substantiate its evolving business value.

I’ve long held the belief shared by Brian Solis, David Meerman Scott and others that PR needs to put the “public” back in public relations. In our Web world, PR 2.0 is increasingly about relating to all relevant publics (not just media and analysts). With citizen journalism and free blogs everyone is a columnist, a pundit, an influencer. Thus PR people need to approach and interact with each individual public in ways that effectively establish value in the eyes of those publics.

TPFKAPRP ("The People Formerly Known As PR People") will only continue to add value if they can help share the value that companies have with people who will be interested in those companies' offerings-- products, services, thought leadership, innovations.

While I don't yet know how to measure it (because site traffic and Re-Tweets are an imperfect measurement of impact)-- PR 2.o is more about "Return on Interaction" than "Return on Investment."

I first wrote on redefining PR ROI as "Return on Interaction" back in January 2009 .

Marketing Return on Investment can be more easily measured than PR because marketing is often conducted in campaigns (an e-mail blast, an SEO change, a banner replacement). These campaigns have associated start and end dates, measurable costs, and often a direct tie to lead generation/integration into a sales cycle (queries, leads, hot prospects, closed sales, revenue).

In contrast to marketing, PR 2.0 activity (in the form of interaction with the media, industry analysts, influential bloggers, LinkedIn groups, Twitter followers) is more of an ongoing drumbeat than a campaign.

How to Deliver the True Business Value of PR 2.o:

Grabbing and holding peoples’ attention and giving those people sufficient reason to engage with you requires the continual and effective combination of essential communications skills, tactics, modalities, qualities and commonalities:

Storytelling, Writing & Content Creation, Responding, Diplomacy, Emoting, Facilitation

Outreach, Engagement, Dialog, Follow-up

Modalities and Qualities:
Honesty, Respect, Creativity, Transparency

Put the “ME” in Media by making sure communications are personally relevant. Verify joint interest in a subject. Treat your “audience” as you would treat yourself-- with respect. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Web interaction has made the concept of “Audiences” into an artifact of the mass media/pre-internet age.

If TPFKAPRP PR 2.0 pros continually practice the essence of quality communications they will continue to deliver real business value for the clients and companies they represent.

Enlightened thinking about permission-based marketing and inbound marketing has (from internet marketing innovators like HubSpot and others) has revealed that consumers and businesses don’t want to be marketed to (through unsolicited e-mails, cold calls, and mass media advertising). Similarly, conventional PR tactics like press release blasts and shoving “non-news” pitches down a reporter’s throat are and have always been a waste of everyone’s time and money. Today, ensuring that “finding commonality” and “proactively seeking dialogue” are the quintessential precepts of communications in the PR 2.0 age.

If communicators adopt these as new standard business practices, PR will continue to add business value. Commonality, relevance, honest dialogue and respect (above all else) are imperatives, not options for the PR 2.0 practitioner.
Just ask Aretha!
Aretha helped me to realise who I am, what I do well for my clients, and what I want to continue to be: I'm a "ValueCaster."

“It matters not what you are thought to be, but what you are.”
Publius Syrus (42 B.C.)

Leaving Tech Behind -- A Day on Baker's Island

While my work as a PR 2.0 communications consultant requires me to be switched on, hooked up, LinkedIN, Twitter talkin' and e-mail engaged night and day...

Tomorrow, I get to leave technology behind for a single day.

On Sat, July 11--- I'll be somewhere without electricity:
Baker's Island-- a tiny 55 acre island off of the coast of Massachusetts' North Shore.
Baker's is a 55 acre heaven run by a private association of its members (public not allowed).

I first visited Baker's Island in the summer of 1984 (courtesy of the family of my long-time friend Bart Littlefield)-- who own a house on the island. Bart and I were members of a 10 man a cappella singing group called The Bosstones (not to be confused with the later pretenders to the name "The Mighty Mighty Bosstones").

That group was my principal extracurricular activity during the 1980s. The 10 to 12 of us ('Sstones) had much fun -- serenading at Quincy Market, Edgartown's Whaling Church and for
at least 4 summers that I can recall on Baker's Island.

A trip to Baker's takes one back in time. There are no cars, no roads, no telephone wires, no electricity. Lighting and refrigeration is gas-powered. The only way to get around the island is to walk down idyllic grassy pathways bounded by hedgerows that remind me of Normandy and Sussex.

There's not much to do on Baker's. That's the point. Recline, Stroll, Laugh with friends, Drink, Swim, Sail, Windsurf, Sing Repeat.

On July 11 -- the Bosstones will reunite for another on-island singfest accompanied by members of the loyal Bosstones Auxilliary (suffering spouses) as well as a number of brave children (who weren't embarrased to see their Dads attempt to recreate the sounds they first made 25 yrs before).
Forget FACEBOOK, this is how friends should connect.

I can't wait!