Pulse of the Profession

Friday Five: Measurement as a Second Language

In the past 10 years, public relations professionals have discovered that when it comes to measuring public relations strategy and tactics, volume metrics alone don’t tell the full story. The problem with relying solely on volume metrics is that they don’t tell you whether your program is delivering the right message, bringing the right kind of audience or compelling anyone to action. Fast forward to the arrival of social networks, and it’s suddenly possible to measure whether people have seen your content or shared it with others. Today’s measurement tools make it possible to track every click a communications program inspires, and helps determine the source of the traffic, its context and sometimes, even the point of interest within a piece of content.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary — we take a closer look at how public relations professionals are using measurement tools to make better business decisions, eliminate spam from skewing the results, add value that clients can see and establish industry standards. We also look at how speaking measurement as a second language and understanding what measurement terms mean can increase the validity of your analysis.

Detecting Deception in Social Media (The Net-Savvy Executive)

Some people are intentionally adding noise to the online world in an attempt to mislead users and analysts. The challenge lies in figuring out how to catch spam before it becomes a part of the results and analysis. Developers of social media analysis platforms work to eliminate spam from their results, and spammers develop new tactics to dodge the filters. As long as the incentives remain, people will find ways to game the system. Nathan Gilliatt provides some ideas of how to think about questionable results, including:

  • Consider your purpose. Your sensitivity to spam in your data depends on what you’re doing with it. If you’re reporting on broad trends, you might get better results through sampling, or by focusing on high-quality sources.
  • Consider the source (person). Who posted the item in question, and what do you know about them? Is the poster a known person? What do you know from the individual profile? Ask yourself these questions to determine if the source is reputable and worth paying attention.
  • Consider the source (site). Where was the data posted? What do you know about the site? Is it a known site, or a probable pay-to-play or disinformation site?

How PR Agencies Can Add More Value: Provide Powerful Measurement Programs for Clients (Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog)

With measurement rapidly gaining importance, agencies vying for a competitive edge are more strongly encouraging clients to buy into analytics. At the same time, clients are seeking agencies that offer measurement as a standard public relations service. With both sides on board, agencies have a great opportunity to add value by successfully implementing measurement programs that benefit them and their clients. Kristin Jones, CEO of Wallop! OnDemand, gives some great suggestions for how agencies can implement meaningful — and profitable — public relations measurement for clients across the board.

Trends in PR Measurement and Momentum Toward Establishing Industry Standards (Vital Signs, Chandler Chicco)

Public relations measurement, despite being a gray area for public relations professionals in many ways, is becoming better and more widely understood and adopted as a necessary part of any successful program. At the recent PR News PR Measurement Conference in Washington, D.C., some industry heavy hitters in the research world shared their measurement knowledge. Chandler Chicco’s Stephanie Mui shares some measurement best practices from the conference:

  • Establish measurable, business-oriented objectives. A good objective should measure business impacts and outcomes, not just outputs from a series of tactics.
  • Think of measurement not as an end in and of itself. At a minimum, we all need to be measuring outputs (quantitative results), if not outcomes (how the quantitative results correlate with measurable impacts). However, there was a lot of discussion about the power of measurement, and how measurement can be thought of as a launching point for guiding program refinements over time.
  • Tune out the white noise in social media. Not everything that everyone is saying in social media will affect your business, even in a crisis scenario. So the next time you see a negative Tweet about your company or product, determine the validity of what is being said, consider how influential the source is (who they know, who follows them, what their affiliations are, etc.) and determine the next steps.

Using Big Data to Make Better Business Decisions (Edeleman Digital)

Industry professionals continue to be confronted by challenges that big data poses. They are learning how it can be effectively managed, and what their organizations can do to leverage it to make more insightful decisions. Big data was traditionally thought of in the context of areas, such as sensor networks, call records, military surveillance, complex scientific research and the like. However, in recent years, its definition has been broadened. This week, Ben Cotton of Edelman, Dublin, describes the use and value of big data in the contexts of social networks, Internet search and large-scale e-commerce:

  • Big data: social context. Big data impacts not only the usual players in social, such as marketing, public relations, sales and customer service, but areas as diverse as supply chain, research and development, human resources and much more.
  • Collecting the data. Organizations should be utilizing tools like Radian6, Sysomos and Synthesio to mine data and extract meaning from online conversations to support their internal, operational and strategic decisions which can help them evolve from a social brand to a social business.
  • Big data in play. There are already some fantastic examples of organizations leading the way by utilizing big data to make enhanced decisions for themselves or their clients. Recorded Future, a software company with CIA and Google funding, has developed something called a “temporal analytics engine” that scours the Web to find relationships between people, organizations, actions and incidents so that they can more accurately predict events, such as outbreaks of disease, terrorist threats and economic swings.

The 6 Trickiest Measurement Terms (and What They Really Mean) (PR Daily)

When it comes to measurement in public relations ROI, impressions, and earned/owned media are on the list of words that pop up in professionals’ lingo. The lingo of measurement includes a few terms that have somewhat variable definitions, depending on who is trying to sell you what. PR Daily contributor Katie Paine guides us through a few of those tricky definitions. She advises, “When you hear any of the following terms or words, make sure you ask the person using them what he or she means by them. If their definition does not match the one below, be very careful who you are dealing with and what you are buying.” Read more here for a list of those words and definitions.

Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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