The Changing PR Landscape (PRSA teleseminar reactions)

Once again I had the pleasure of sitting on one of Peter Himler‘s legendary panels. Today I joined Peter, Adam Christensen (manager of social media communications at IBM), Stacy DeBroff (CEO of MomsCentral) and Max Kalehoff (VP marketing at Clickable) for The Changed PR Landscape: What Works, What Doesn’t.

It’s amazing how insufficient 60 minutes seems when you’re discussing the most significant evolution the public relations industry has ever seen. There is so much to talk about. Topics during the session ranged from:

  • companies managing their viral and Google footprints
  • how much time an organization should devote to managing social media initiatives, 
  • leveraging employees as online ambassadors and corporate representatives
  • using social media to collaborate, inspire and motivate action, and
  • the role of search in communications.

We really only scratched the surface. The first half was an opportunity for each speaker to talk about what they do and comment on where PR is headed. The second half opened lines to listeners to ask some really great questions.

  • A team of county public affairs professionals from North Carolina asked how they could capitalize on social media at the local government level and they were directed to Personal Democracy Forum.
  • A PR consultant cited an encounter with a client disappointed that her work landed an article on a Wall Street Journal blog, but not in the print edition. I argued that there is great value in this since that content will remain accessible for a longer period of time than an article in the print edition that may appear online, but may only be accessible to subscribers. Reader commentary and reactions to the blog could improve credibility of that coverage. Stacy also suggested that a placement like that can be linked to from other sites and used in ongoing PR initiatives.

Determining value and quantifying ROI is a major hot button for many PR professionals. Why should they integrate social media? What does success look like? We talked about quality vs. quantity of coverage as a major point of distinction in social media. Digital communications allows you to pinpoint the audience and reach those that genuinely care or affected by your offering. You can also measure direct response as a result of social media.

So many topics. So little time.

Digital PR measurement key to long-term survival

This item was filled under [ ]

Public Relations firms have the potential to be in an enviable position during this economic downturn (and beyond). An article in today’s New York Times (“Client Cutbacks Bring Agency Layoffs“) explores how the cascade of economic decline is hitting advertising firms, resulting in shrinking budgets and layoffs. The article cites less costly disciplines such as email marketing and PR as alternates. Within PR, we see a continued shift towards digital communications and social media initiatives. In fact it’s all our team does and our business isn’t slowing down at all.

As clients migrate to this realm of marketing, there is a risk of disconnect, particularly when it comes to measurement. Marketers for years have focused on ROI metrics like CPM and customer acquisition, while PR has largely evaluated success based on impressions, awareness and reputation. These tend to be less scientific and less relevant to a marketer try to move product off the shelf. But times are changing. Digital PR and effective social media strategies can do it all.

There was a great article earlier this week in Brandweek exploring why ROE (return on engagement) is the new ROI. The premise? “Talk is everything,” according to Dorothy Wetzel, author of the article. She mentions velocity (speed of message spread), virality (frequency of message pass-along) and viracity (quality of message retention) as three measurement considerations. These are good contributions to measuring awareness. But you also need to focus on quantifying action. What is the impact of your engagement? Dorothy cites Dell’s Ideastorm initiative as a progressive example and also promotes the value of direct interaction with the customer.

Digital PR increases corporate and brand visibility where people look for answers online. It is also highly actionable, enabling organizations to mobilize messages, people and movements that create more favourable business conditions. These are pretty exciting times for those organizations that are experimenting with new approaches and diversifying their presence online beyond the comfort of their own domain.