Whilst I was studying for my PR certificate last fall, we were required to put together a hypothetical PR plan for the (deep breath now!) international association for the measurement and evaluation of communication’s (AMEC – phew!) fictional conference which was designed to raise awareness of the Barcelona Principles. I felt that now would be a good time to spill the insights I gleamed from this assignment…
What are they?
Firstly what are the Barcelona Principles? They are not the rules to a Spanish drinking game (disappointingly) or the latest Mediterranean fashion trends; they are actually a set of guidelines designed by chaps like the CIPR, PRSA and ICCO at AMEC Barcelona Conference in 2010, which encourage PROs to produce more vigorous and quantifiable methods to evaluate and measure communication, something especially important in this social media age.
If Moses had been a PR man, this is what the big cheese would have said to him on Mount Sinai about communication measurement:
- Goal setting and measurement are important
- Media measurement requires quantity and quality
- AVEs are not the value of public relations
- Social media can and should be measured
- Measuring outcomes is preferred to measuring media results (outputs)
- Organisational results and outcomes should be measured whenever possible
- Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement.
What does this mean for PR?
Well, one thing is for sure, these principles definitely put the last nail in the AVE coffin; advertising value equivalent, AMEC argues, is an inaccurate and old-fashioned mode of evaluating PR activities, (think more old-school mad men) and it is no longer enough to attribute advertising value to how many column inches you secured. We were taught that PR campaigns must have clearly defined goals which can be measured from the outset – whether that be how many key messages were included in an article or how many followers commented on a blog post.
Similarly, there has been a clear shift to measuring the outcomes of a campaign not simply the results; how many people changed their behaviour patterns is a better method for evaluating the success of a campaign over how many followers you achieved or how many pieces of coverage you secured. Lastly, adopting the same approach to measuring PR activities is crucial for creating robust and credible evaluation.
So there you have it –a summary of what makes good measurement!
I read with interest Mark Ritson’s article in Marketing Week, rebuking his client for big budget spend on social media and pointing out that Facebook, Twitter and the like only reach a small percentage of a companies stakeholders (largely of course depending on who those stakeholders were). It was wonderfully refreshing to see a Marketing professional that doesn’t blindly jump on the social media bandwagon, but instead recognises that its merits need to be weighed up against a companies individual marketing requirements.
Refreshing though it might have been, I do feel that Ritson also missed the point – social media should not be about mass marketing and reaching out to millions of consumers in the way that advertising or direct marketing might. Rather, it is about a targeted approach, providing useful and interesting content to the digital generation on platforms that they already actively engage with. It allows the opportunity for engagement and collaboration with companies and brands, but it does not enforce this.
If companies ignore this opportunities they neglect to even open the door to engagement and collaboration.
Ritson is also right that it does not need to command a major chunk of marketing budget, but the investment with social media is largely time and that does need to be realistically accounted for.
Social media should be integrated into the wider marketing mix, not necessarily as a predominant element (though again that is dependent on the company) but as another string to the bow, and this in itself emphasises the need for strategy.
This does not have to include an arduous process of months of consultation and a 100 page report before social media strategies can be implemented (by which point things will have moved on anyway) but it should include a thorough analysis of what a company hopes to gain from social media, how this can best be achieved and a realistic exploration of the platforms available to implement this.
We all know that Twitter is the social networking tool to use to connect people. How could we not? We are told so all of the time. But few of us actually believe it, or better still act on it.
Yesterday, however, I found myself re-enthused by Twitter’s ability to connect people. Why, I hear you ask? Because I received a tweet from Radio 1’s Tim Westwood. Not strictly a business connection, but bear with me, there is a moral to this tale. My tweet from Westwood was a response to my own tweet commenting on his humorous contribution to the Chris Moyles show. My tweet did not request a response, and nor did I expect one, but simply be mentioning his name as an @ reply I found that he did the same by return. And it was very exciting.
Now I am sure that many of you would argue that a tweet from Westwood would not help your marketing or business strategy. And I am sure you are right, but it does demonstrate how Twitter can connect you with people that you previously found unobtainable.
Last month I also received a response to a Tweet directed at Sam Baker, editor of my current favourite magazine Red (I am slightly fickle when it comes to my magazine reading habits..). Again, it was only jovial banter, but Sam has previously referred in her editor’s letter to Tweets she has received on a particular topic that has later informed the direction of particular elements of the next month’s magazine.
Twitter makes people that were previously unobtainable to the masses, such as celebrities, sports stars, MPs, journalists, suddenly accessible. It provides the mechanism to make personal contact with others, whom you might not otherwise be able to contact.
Admittedly, neither of these examples has allowed me to build up a relationship with Westwood, or Sam nor have they provided me with any business gain. But they do show the possibility that Twitter allows.
I am sure you have all read hundreds of examples of how businesses have connected with partners, potential clients, consumers and trade associations online. But now is the time to stop reading about it, and start doing it for your own company.
The opportunity it there, it is up to you to engage and use Twitter to your best advantage….take the opportunity to connect with the figures within your industry that have previously seemed unobtainable.
In my esteemed role of Digital Prefect, I attended this week’s Social Media World Forum. On Tuesday I was champing at the bit and eager to learn new and exciting things about the world of social media, because as any digital market knows – there are always new and exciting things to learn.
However, my spirit was soon dampened after sitting through eight workshops, five of which were really nothing more than a glorified sales pitch from exhibitors at the show. I may only have opted for the complimentary path, but I expected to receive a plethora of useful, stimulating and informative workshops…
And credit where credit is due, there certainly were a few diamonds in the rough:
Nixon McInnes consultant, Beth Granter, provided a practical and extremely useful workshop on free tools for social media. She gave a whistle stop tour of some of the key free tools that she uses for research and measurement in her social media campaigns. Wonderful! Something I can go back to the office and use. Particular favourites of mine included Addict-o-matic, which collates results from different social media search engines and the Firefox Grease Monkey plug-in, particularly because I like the name but it is also useful for customising the way a webpage displays.
Realwire incorporated some handy hints about social media releases – what you should be including in your releases for an online world. Interesting stat, a social media release can improve your editorial coverage by 108% – presenting your information creatively makes it more appealing to journalists. It’s not rocket science but it’s always nice to have a stat to confirm that.
The final gem for me was Immediate Future’s workshop on social media engagement, which included some practical tips on managing your social media presence – what it involves, what you want to achieve and what you need to get buy-in from your colleagues. Hard to sum up the many handy hints on offer in this one, but the phrase that stuck in my mind was “I am not a digital expert, how can you be? But I have picked up some tips along the way.” My sentiments exactly; how can anyone profess to be an expert in such a fast moving industry?! (I feel a separate blog entry coming on…).
Aside from the above learning curves, I felt a little cheated by sales pitch after sales pitch. I think the point that many presenters and companies miss is that if you provide useful snippets of information to your audience that they can actually use, they are more likely to consider you an expert within your field and look to use your services in the future. Pitching your latest product as part of a workshop is more likely to make people switch off…
Try harder next year smwf!