Public Relations & ROI

While some public relations agencies shy away from correlating PR with return on investment, it’s a topic we relish in. Let’s not beat around the bush, virtually every brand hires a PR agency to help reach customers with the ultimate goal of having them purchase services or goods. So how can an agency attach a measurable, financial result to their work?

The most obvious way is to report the comparative advertising value for press coverage that has been generated. Essentially, how much would it cost a brand to advertise during a TV show or appear in a magazine, website or newspaper. The majority of PR agencies provide an inflated “PR value” which is generally three times the ad value. But let’s face it, that’s a fairly subjective measurement – what if the article was negative or if the incorrect URL was published? There is no doubt that PR coverage is typically more valuable than advertising, but we feel its best to provide clients with solid data rather than a debatable, inflated value for press coverage.

The question remains,  “what did a piece of coverage really mean to a client’s bottom line?”

Analyzing web analytics is an extremely useful way to directly correlate the ROI of media coverage. With analytic tools, not only are we able to measure the number of visitors that visited our client’s website but we also see how many of those visitors made a purchase decision. For example, we recently secured a placement on The Today Show and were able to view in real-time the number of visitors and purchases made throughout the morning as the segment aired in all time zones. Watching Google Analytics Real-Time Traffic Data is a guilty pleasure of ours – few things are as gratifying as watching thousands of new customers flood a client’s website!

By the end of the day the client sold thousands of units and was able to attribute all of those sales to our efforts (and to our good friends at The Today Show). Not to mention, all of those customers are now in the client’s database for direct marketing purposes and many have subscribed to their social channels, providing an opportunity to make them customers for life and transform them into brand advocates.

There are a number of ways to connect PR efforts with ROI, but it starts with the mindset of being accountable for sales and marketing goals. Generating mass media exposure is great, but producing tangible dollars from that exposure is ultimately what most brands are looking for.

Mastering the Art of Live-Tweeting During Events

In this day and age, businesses want to be part of relevant conversations that help create awareness, drive traffic and build a community where engagement between a brand and its audience is celebrated and meaningful.  So it’s no surprise that live-tweeting has become a focal point of many brands that try engaging relevant audiences by participating in conversations around live events as they happen.

But what exactly is live-tweeting and how does it differ from common/day-to-day tweeting? It’s actually pretty simple, and is the act of tweeting around a live event as it happens.

There isn’t a single correct way to live-tweet; at its core, live-tweeting is supposed to be organic, conversational and in real-time but there are tips that will help facilitate live-tweeting as a company.

  1.  Use the correct hashtag in the conversation.  Many live events broadcasted by major channels create a hashtag specifically for the event.  Make sure you are reaching the right groups of people by using these hashtags.  If there is more than one hashtag you can use them, but don’t go hashtag crazy and use a different hashtag for every tweet you put out.  If you’re hosting the live-tweet, make sure you let your followers know ahead of time the hashtag you will be using to facilitate the conversation so they know what hashtag they should be using.
  2. Tag the people and companies that are relevant to the event in your tweets when you mention them.  Who knows, you might get a retweet, mention or follow from that person.  Remember, live-tweeting is all about engagement!
  3. Don’t go to Twitter jail.  There is such a thing as being locked out of Twitter for over-tweeting.  The rules of not landing in Twitter jail are: don’t go over 100 tweets an hour (this includes retweets), 1,000 tweets a day or more than 250 Direct Messages a day. Over-tweeting can also overwhelm your followers.  If you find yourself locked up with the blue bird, it can take an hour or more before you can tweet again.  Time is everything during live events, so be mindful of how often you are tweeting so you don’t miss out on the conversation.
  4. Engage, engage, engage.  The real magic of live-tweeting is that it allows you  to connect with people who might share a similar interest, so make sure you monitor the hashtag you are live-tweeting about and start relevant conversations with others around the topic being discussed.
  5. Track your conversations.  Using social measurement tools (like Co-Tweet or Bit.ly) help you keep track of any relevant hashtags and also keep track of click-throughs to any links you might have tweeted during the event.

Live-tweeting is a great way for brands to connect with consumers and if done right can be a great way to get new followers, and expose your brand to new customers.  Remember to have fun, put some thought into your tweets and interact with people having the same discussion to get the most out of your live-tweets!

Key Ingredients for Lasting Client Relationships

On a daily basis, PR professionals spend their time cultivating relationships with media members to ensure their clients receive the best possible press for their products or services. Getting wrapped up in core PR activities can, at times, manage to get in the way of strengthening relationships with clients, relationships that go beyond the business. Providing exceptional results for your clients is what every PR professional hopes for, but how can you achieve this without knowing who your clients are outside of his/her email signature?

Sometimes, the smallest gestures can build a personal relationship with your client. These are a couple of ways to start connecting with your client:

1)      Conveying Your Excitement – Whether you are releasing a new product, or kicking off a new partnership with a client, it’s exciting! Some people can get mired in a “professional” mentality that can temper their enthusiasm. Avoid that at all costs! Your passion shows them that you are invested in their brand, and will demonstrate that you’re worthy of representing their brand to the media.

2)      Pick Up The Phone – Building relationships and getting to know someone takes time. Take a break from pecking at the keyboard, and get on the phone with your client to update them and share your latest developments. This is also a great opportunity to dig deeper into their businesses and ask them about their sales, web traffic, and new product ideas. You can also take this time to provide them with media feedback. This gives them a sense of media sentiment and often spurs ideas for improvements on existing products and new products. This will open up the line of communication, make future conversations more fluid, and your client won’t associate a phone call with bad news!

3)      Communication Sync – Another critical aspect is communicating with your client in their preferred way. Although most are accustomed to email and phone, some clients prefer to chat through text or Facebook. Once you’ve determined their preferred method of communication, you should take into consideration how they prefer to receive it. Some clients want concise reports of your progress, while others like to receive detailed accounts of all pertinent information. Everyone has a different communication style and finding which one works best for your client is key!

By taking the time to get to know your client, you and your colleagues can gain a better understanding of who your client is and the best possible way to represent their brand. Not only will you provide better service, but you will solidify your personal relationship, paving the way for a long and fruitful partnership.

Policing the Internet; Impact of Net-Neutrality on Users

Net-neutrality has become the buzzword in the realm of Internet service, both in the public and private sectors.  On January 14, 2014 the FCC ruled to decline the position for net-neutrality. Because of this ruling, and for clarification purposes, cable and Internet providers now have the legal right to block a series of websites, applications (or apps), blogs, videos or cloud technology services. What this means for the average Internet user is, your Internet or cable provider has the legal right to determine if they want you to read this article, even further, to give priority access to content of contract services that pay a higher toll for faster and/or uninterrupted access.

This is not the first hack at net-neutrality. During the George W. Bush administration in 2002, the FCC made a decision to classify broadband services (i.e. the Internet) as an “information service”. However, there is a long-standing legal term called “common carrier”. Common carriers are organizations or companies that provide access to a communication media, such as a telephone system or Internet service provider. These common carriers exercise no control over the content that they provide. When applied to the Internet structure, this means that all traffic must be treated equally. Why is this important?  Because, when the FCC classified broadband as information services it, in turn, made them exempt from these common carrier requirements.

Internet freedom, or what we would like to call, one of our Internet Amendments, is one of the basic rights allowed to us as subscribers of Internet technology. The ruling negatively affects the everyday lives of businesses and Americans and will alter the free state of the Internet. Since its inception, the open nature of the Internet has been a founding element of the technology, in that the user has every right of access and accessibility that founded the communication medium. This FCC ruling will adversely affect these rights and accordingly the rights of free speech.

It is unclear what the exact short term and long term ramifications of the net-neutrality ruling will have on businesses, but what is clear is that most businesses will at some point feel the impact of this ruling in the immediate future.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Should service providers be forced to pay a higher premium for better bandwidth and selection of content? Does the FCC ruling affect you or a service you provide consumers?

The Media Landscape Has Evolved – Have You Kept Up?

Twitter. To some, it means keeping track of news, sports, celebrities, and tracking your favorite food truck. To others, it’s just another platform that wastes time. There are also those who aren’t sure what it is and if it’s important. No matter your personal feelings about the microblogging service, it has inserted itself into many facets of or lives. It seems that hashtags are everywhere- even Facebook adopted them in June of 2013.

Perhaps no community has embraced it more than the media. With a few years under their collective journalistic belt, Twitter has evolved into an indispensable tool for many looking to not only connect and share stories, but to find sources and stay abreast of headlines. PR pros have also taken note, and used the medium as an extension of the symbiotic relationship of exchanging information to create compelling stories. At least the good ones have.

So, how can Twitter help land your next placement? First, it’s important to engage. Keep in mind Twitter is a community, and hollow attempts at pitching journalists will often be met with silence. Start by following journalists who cover beats you not only enjoy reading about, but also beats that are related to your clients. By following the conversation (and participating with a RT), you’ll reap the benefits of continuing your own education about the topic.

It’s also important to pay attention. We’ve been able to help journalists who have tweeted a story idea or a need for a source or product. If you can assist, let them know with a reply, and follow up with an email as quickly as possible with more information.  It’s also important to pay attention to other topics and be helpful when you can. We recently connected a journalist who was looking for freelance writers with someone looking for freelance work.

Create value. If you find something unique, newsworthy, funny, inspiring, or clever, share it! By actively participating in the community, you’ll be able to make connections and expand your own network.

The moral, as so many of them are, is to use common sense, be helpful and pay attention.