Guest Post: The PR Guessing Game Is Gone for Good

Brianna Taylor, PPRA member and Director of Public Relations at Garfield Group, shares the benefits of efficient data and analytics to PR. The complete post and its supporting images can be found on the Garfield Group blog.

It’s 2019. And the word of the year is “data” (don’t fact check me on that).

Today, data is as essential to modern marketers as oxygen. But this necessity isn’t always satisfied so readily. Most CMOs and their agencies know that they need data to measure the effectiveness of their programs. But when it comes to measuring PR efforts, there are often questions about what to measure and how to prove a true ROI.

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PR and Data — Together At Long Last.

According to the 2019 Global Communications Report from the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations, big data analytics is the top skill that future PR and communications professionals will need to be successful. What’s more, “70 percent of B2B marketers would shift more of their budgets to PR if it could be related to financial impact,” reports Cision.

As a result, the PR industry has been adapting to prove the impact of their programs. It’s why at Garfield Group, we’ve begun to provide our clients with custom-tailored analytics dashboards — readily displaying the metrics that best indicate how well we’re delivering on their communications objectives.

A Portfolio of PR Metrics.

What are the most important public relations metrics? Of course the answer is those that measure success against specific KPIs or communications goals. It’s a customized view of what matters most to an organization. To provide some examples, however, we’ve outlined four of the most common data/metrics categories here:

Media Mentions

This is a simple count of the number of times a brand is mentioned in the media. Media mentions can be tracked over time to show an increase in the company’s “share of voice” in a particular industry and the traction of PR investments.

Media Impressions

Impressions are a measure of how many people “might have” seen the brand in media coverage. This includes calculating the potential audience reached with a given media mention or an entire campaign of clippings. (Note: this is not our favorite metric, because it typically inflates the sense of a brand’s true exposure. It is, however, a metric that clients frequently ask to measure.)

Content Scoring 

This is a real powerhouse metric. Content scoring is a measure of the quality of coverage a brand received. It’s a methodology to derive a true value of coverage – customized to unique goals and measured on a scale of, say, 1 to 10. Such a system might include considerations such as mentions of key messaging or talking points, whether a publication is one of your top media targets, how prominent your brand was in the coverage, and whether or not coverage was positive.

Traffic Generation

Website traffic and social media reach over time — since the beginning of a PR campaign, for example — are good barometers of the value of the PR investment. By including links in contributed pieces, we can also analyze how many website visitors are directly attributed to specific outlets or pieces of content. This measurement can help identify which sources are referring the most traffic to a website.

Everything in context.

Few marketers are throwing their entire budget into public relations alone. So which strategies best supplement investment in measurable PR?  Integrated marketing is the key — crossing traditional boundaries to combine PR with digital media, social media and beyond. (Look no further than how Oreo’s simple but fun Super Bowl tweet blew up. Seriously, look at all the coverage for “dunk in the dark.”) According to the 2019 Global Communications Report, 90% of respondents predict that the relationship between PR and marketing will become more integrated over the next five years.

As always, the key is your needs, your goals, and your vision. It’s essential to applying insightful strategies and creativity to solve problems and then do a great job of evaluating and measuring the outcomes. Only then can you understand how all forms of communications — including public relations, of course — are moving your business forward.

Guest Post: 5 Spring Cleaning Tips for PR Pros

This post was originally posted on the Devine+Partners blog. Click here to view the original post. 

Soon enough, we’ll be in the full swing of Spring 2019 and what better way to welcome Spring than to declutter, reduce, recycle and get some spring cleaning done in the office. Since less clutter equals less chaos, a tidy workspace can help improve your focus and provide you with all-around better work habits, increase team productivity and help you to create a fresh new start.

Let’s take a look at five ways to adopt some spring cleaning into your upcoming agenda:

Declutter your desk space

Depending on how messy your desk can get, start with a can of compressed air, boxes to organize your belongings, and a large trash bag. Prepare yourself emotionally to purge, and toss the items that you no longer need or use. Trying to get away from printing and killing trees? Focus on digital copies and fewer hard copies. Cleaning your desk will not only clear your work station, but will more importantly clear your mind.

Use your email functions wisely

Is it just me or does seeing 2,399 unread messages in our Inbox make you cringe? I shoot to make that number zero, but it’s sometimes not always possible. I’m sure we can probably all agree that the email search tool is a commonly used function, but instead of relying on this, it is important to take some time to organize your email files. Create folders and subfolders, flag or label items in your inbox, and use the task feature to prioritize assignments. (Or be like me and add it there AND write it down in an agenda book #OldSchool) By organizing your important emails now, you’ll be able to cut down lengthy searches in the future. Be sure to also delete space-consuming junk mail whenever possible.

Freshen’ Up Your Social Media

Often times we forget about the importance of social media decluttering. Whether this is persona or on social media accounts you manage at work, spend a few minutes each day to review your accounts and update your connections. Remove pages that are no longer active, and look for new brands, reporters and influencers to follow that are relevant to your accounts. It’s also a good idea to freshen up your pages every now and then with new cover photos, but continue to keep your logo and profile photo consistent across all channels.

Reconnect with old contacts

When I think of spring I think of the work fresh, as in fresh start. Do you feel like some of your accounts are stale and you’re looking for some new energy or potential new business? I have a box of business cards in my desk and two times a year I will go through to see which old contacts I haven’t connected with in a while. Schedule coffee, shoot them an email or send a LinkedIn message checking in on them personally and professionally. This may bring in some new business in 2019 or at least help you reconnect with an old colleague.

Review current PR strategies

It’s easy to settle into a routine when a strategy works, but there’s always room for improvement! Meet with your clients and your teams to revisit those initial strategies and tactics. Are the strategies still working? What can we do to grow our efforts? Even if your PR efforts are succeeding, check in with the team and think about what other tactics you could be using. Taking the time to brainstorm new ideas will show the client your passion for their brand and help the account grow.

Take these five cleaning tips and spread them out over the next three weeks. I hope they help give you a fresh and re-energized start.

Guest Post: Branding for Business: What Constitutes a Sandwich?

This post was originally posted on the Devine+Partners blog. Click here to view the original post. 

What is a sandwich?

This seems like an easy question, right? When you think about it, a grilled cheese and a BLT are sandwiches but what about the hundreds of other bread products like them?

I guess the real question is, what isn’t a sandwich? Is a burrito a sandwich? What about a hot dog? Where in this mess of ideologies do you find yourself?

“A brand’s strength is built upon its determination to promote its own distinctive values and mission.” – Jean-Noel Kapferer

Are you like the USDA – a sandwich is meat between two slices of bread? Maybe you are more like New York where if your food is served on something even remotely bread-like then it’s a sandwich, and that’s the law!As a company you need to know who you are and where you stand against your competitors. If you were selling sandwiches you’d have to know what constitutes a sandwich. You’d have to decide if you were going to fight to be a sandwich like hot dogs in California, or if you’d settle for being a sandwich-similar product like burritos in Maine. This process of branding yourself and your company is essential.

In business, branding is fundamental. It gives the audience a piece of your company that is memorable and leaves an impression. Building your brand up builds value for your company. A brand gives you something to believe in which spurs loyalty to that brand. It also creates trust with the marketplace. Customers are more likely to go to a company that seems like an industry expert.

Going hand-in-hand with branding is Public Relations. Both are about managing the image of your company – spread the right news, handle politics, and build your reputation. Branding must have a home in your PR strategy to ensure both are effective.

Guest Post: What Generation Z Wants

This post was originally posted on the Devine+Partners blog. Click here to view the original post. 

People who are born between 1995 and 2015 are known as Generation Z, and I am one of those individuals. We have grown up alongside the Internet, know the ins-and-outs of every social media platform, and we are always on the lookout for a strong Wi-Fi connection. We are the next generation.

Businesses often wonder how to reach such a complex, digital-savvy generation, now adding this specific segment to their target audiences. According to The Huffington Post, Gen Z is less focused, better at multi-tasking, and expect more from businesses and brands than their Millennial predecessors. Being a member of Gen-Z myself, I can confirm these generational traits: I can’t watch TV without scrolling on my phone, I like being able to work on multiple projects at once, and I care about the future of our society and support businesses that feel the same.

So, how do you gain a connection with this unique and hyper-aware generation? Good question! While the answers may be different for each one of us, allow me to give my perspective on what Generation Z wants from brands.

Do Your Part and Take a Stance

We are at an age and time where the world’s condition is becoming concerning. Gen-Z is aware of this, and many of us are a part of the group of activists trying to bring goodwill to this planet. Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer an added bonus for a company; it is an expectation. My values play a strong role in the purchases I make. I only support organizations that contribute to bettering the world—whether that is preventing pollution and violence, or protecting the habitat of endangered animals, just to name a few examples. By finding an emotional connection, I feel like my money is going to a company that cares deeply about the same things I look to champion and support.

On a similar note, let’s talk politics… or not. As a 15-year-old, I can’t say that politics are my forte or even one of my interests. What I can say is that I realize how publicizing your organization’s political stances can impact your company’s image or sales both positively and negatively which is a definite risk. Instead of brands projecting a specific view onto their audience, I think it would be beneficial to use their platforms to promote the right to vote. This allows brands to take a stand – something our generation wants to see – but also allows them to remain neutral. This lets our generation know that they are a responsible organization that cares about the future for our citizens.

Express Yourself through Creativity

Confession: I tend to scroll past ads that promote the same thing everyone else is promoting. It’s less interesting and less expressive. What catches my attention is something original; something I’ve never seen before. Like most people in Gen-Z, I’m all about setting trends instead of following them. My generation craves expression. I prefer something that screams my vibe and something that matches my personality. I want products that make me comfortable and say clearly to everyone around me, “This Is Who I Am!” Brands: use your messaging, stunts and advertisements to step outside the box and create products that make me want to stop and stare.

Be Authentic

If I were to take a guess, I would assume that Generation Z is rather different than many brand’s current target audience. We are definitely unlike the Baby Boomers and Generation X, and even different from our closest group, the Millennials. However, that does not mean you should change every marketing/PR/advertising concept about your company to fit our mold. That approach will be obviously inauthentic, and we will know it’s fake. And just like our society doesn’t like fake news, Gen-Z doesn’t appreciate phoniness. We appreciate passion and meaning, not pretending to be something just for the sake of a specific sale or campaign. Organizations need to learn how to adjust to a new audience while sharing the same message regardless of age. It’s not about changing the message for the 80-year-old Gram and the high school senior, it’s about changing how you deliver the message.

All in all, Gen-Z knows that learning how to adjust to our complicated thinking may be a rough transition for companies and brands, and we’re willing to speak up to share our perspectives on what works and what doesn’t. Being open-minded is how brands will earn a deep and personal connection with the generation that is changing the world. And once they acquire our respect and loyalty, there’s no telling what that can mean for their success. Just don’t get comfortable – trends only last for so long, and there will be another generation ready to make their mark before we know it.

Coffee and Conversations with CBS3’s Margaret Cronan

Public Relations Professionals filled Studio B at CBS3 on April 14, 2016 for Coffee and Conversations with Margaret Cronan. We were all joined by Assistant News Director, John Wilson. PPRA President Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway and Margaret kicked off the morning on a fun note … showing off their similar footwear — medical boots!

Meredith and Margaret at CBS PPRA Event

PPRA President Meredith Z. Avakian-Hardaway posing with CBS3 Margaret Cronan. Photo By: Cari Feiler Bender

Margaret started the program by talking about the changes at the station. She first showed a new, lively promo video and immediately created an engaging atmosphere. They are relaunching their station brand and the video, which opened in black and white but transitioned into vibrant color, showed just how lively and warm their newscasts are.

So what is the plan at CBS3 now? They are looking for and presenting meaningful stories other stations don’t have while also telling the news of the day in a more meaningful way. Our region doesn’t want just murder, fire, weather and traffic. We want more and CBS3 believes we deserve a better newscast. To explain this further, Margaret gave an example. Recently, their 11 p.m. news kicked off with a story that a year ago wouldn’t have been their lead story. She showed a clip of a story about a case of animal abuse against horses and the amazing teamwork it took to help the Last Chance Rescue Farm take care of these horses.

A sample of how CBS3 is making changes was how the station handled the terror attacks in Paris. While the other channels were running their regular programming, CBS3 interrupted the Dr. Phil show and brought Ukee and Jessica on the set to report the breaking news. CBS National broke the story at 5 p.m. but Margaret felt it was important for us to be informed right away, before 5 p.m.

John Wilson opened his portion of the program by talking about a new segment called Good Question. This airs on the 11 p.m. news and the segments are not posted online – intentionally. Viewers can only watch this segment on television, and cannot find it at another time online. Good Question can be a serious, timely topic like the taxes in April or a more humorous topic like having a linguistics expert from PENN explain where the Philadelphia slang word JAWN comes from. John’s tip: If you want to get a client on Good Question, pitch your client as the expert who can answer the proposed question.

Another light feature that has become very popular are the reports by Vittoria (Tori) Woodall who is as energetic as she is well-received. She began with a segment called Taste with Tori which focuses on the story behind the restaurant. She is now also doing more feature stories such as: what’s it like to actually be inside the crane that is part of the part of the construction site of the new Comcast Tower?

This led to the question and answer portion of the morning. I’d like to present this you all as it happened during the event:

Question:

Who should we be pitching and when does CBS3 use entertainment stories?

Answer:

John quickly shared his email address with us all: Wilson@cbs3.com and said you can never over communicate! Don’t forget morning producer Steve Lindsay. He is filling live air for two hours.

For entertainment, this is a real opportunity for Tori. Maybe she can jump on stage with performers! But remember, there has to be a deeper feature for Tori to share.

John also mentioned that you could pitch a story to him but then in their meetings they’ll decide the best reporter to cover it.  They all share story ideas during their meetings.

Question:

The Last Chance Rescue Farm story that was given as an example in the beginning of the event took place in Quakertown, PA. Do you have a wider demographic because of viewership?

Answer:

They do, always have. John said that if they realize that many of their stories are in the city, it’s time to get out of the city!

Question:

We don’t want to overstep any boundaries with reporters and producers at the station. Let’s say we’re working with someone/pitching them, but they don’t really know if the story will work for them. What if we also think the story could be really good for, as an example, Stephanie Stahl. Can we pitch her as well? We don’t want to pitch two people and chance offending anyone.

Answer:

In our meetings, we don’t really know where the pitches come from. Chances are you’re not always going to get a yes; we’re looking for something unique. John said he has never heard from someone at work rolling their eyes saying, “Oh My God, I’ve heard from this person again!”

Question:

What’s the biggest headache you have from people like us?

Answer:

That’s a better question for the assignment desk but, we’re still news people and we’re trying to tell stories and do the news. The focus at the station isn’t your client’s happiness. It’s ratings and viewer happiness, etc. That’s positive PR. John went on to talk a little on PR practices that frustrate them. His example was the need for quick turnaround during a crisis. They need to hear back immediately especially when something is time sensitive. It doesn’t matter how you respond; email, text, call phone… just give us something, he says.

Question:

How would you describe your sports coverage?

Answer:

We are putting an emphasis back on sports again. We are the only station who sent a camera out to Seattle with St. Joe’s. There’s the sports side of sports, but the people side too. CBS3 is particularly interested in the people side of sports. Maybe we’ll highlight a story during Lunch with Leslie instead of standard sports highlights on the 5 p.m. news.

Question:

You receive 600 emails and more a day so how do we really get you to open the email? How do you feel about phone calls?

Answer:

Email is better because you can catch up quicker than voicemail. When sending a pitch, John can tell what’s national or local. Frankly – it’s in the subject. “Possible Good Question” is a good subject. Adding Philadelphia to the subject line is good to get him to open the email.

Question:

I find it interesting that KYW Newsradio and CBS3 are partnering. Are you doing more of this?

Answer:

Yes, it goes both ways. Both news rooms are mirror images of each other. Someone from KYW Newsradio is in the CBS morning meeting!

Question:

There were more opportunity for sponsored content on Talk Philly at noon. Probably 80% was sponsored content. Why did it stop?

Answer:

We wanted to get back to the news; it was just too fluffy.  When John is questioning if it’s news or fluff, his criteria is if a story is a waste of time. He wants the story to be meaningful. If his brain switches from work to interest, its news. Unfortunately, there is no homerun formula. Sometimes you hit it and sometimes you don’t.

Question:

Health reporters seem adverse to a health awareness angle unless it’s during the specialty month. Next week is osteopathic medicine week so would next week be a good pitching opportunity to do a story on a correlating procedure?

Answer:

John responded that he wants to know how new and radical the procedure might be. Is there something new or different here? Is there a new trend or is it affected by a new insurance law? Make awareness week the chance to talk about newsworthiness or trends etc.

Question:

Thinking about your Grammy promo piece, how can we help you tie into the national trends and national stories with a local story? How do we know other trends that are coming that we can help you with?

Answer:

Some of the stories, we should just know. For example, the Masters are known, the Superbowl is known. We should follow the headlines. Here’s an example that may not have been a homerun but was. James Corden was doing a prime time special on carpool karaoke. So what makes it newsworthy to us? We did a local carpool karaoke story with Tori. It was right around the time that the Pope was in town so we got the big people who were here!

Follow Up Question:

Would you ever tweet out that you’re looking for something?

Answer:

Nah, we’re more about building that relationship with the assignment desk.

Question:

What’s the mood in the room to the arts coverage?

Answer:

Let’s get Tori access to your arts stories but there’s got to be a story there as well. For example, maybe the lead in the nutcracker has some amazing story on her life and how she got there.

All in all, it was an amazing morning. I’ll leave you with the words that Margaret left us with: She would love for us to call her and tell her there’s a huge story breaking down the street but she also now wants us to remember as we work for our clients that CBS3 is doing something different now. She wants us to think while we’re in our meetings, “You know, CBS3 will do this because they’re doing something different now. They aren’t doing all hard edge stuff.”

Hope Horwitz is the Vice President of Sharla Feldscher Public Relations and a long-time PPRA member.