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The Suite Spot: The Value of PR in a Digital World

Do You Know Your Suite Spot?

I write to you from the PR Measurement Conference hosted by PR News at the prestigious National Press Club in our nation’s Capital. Public Relations practitioners — like their marketing counterparts – are on a constant quest to seek the optimal social listening, measurement and analytics tools to maximize ROI and justify their campaigns to clients’ or senior management.

However, the difference amongst these marcom factions and even amongst PR pros themselves is in how they view the campaign leader of the pack and in what they deem as their benchmarks for measurement and for proving their worth.

Despite many efforts, there is still no consensus on how to best measure PR. Photo: Abbe Sparks Media Group

It was not that long ago, when PR was considered the step-child of advertising amongst marcom industry pros and as such, they demonstrated the value of PR in terms of advertising dollars for media coverage and applied ‘The Barcelona Principles.’ Many of you may recall PR pros definition to clients’ et al: “publicity is simply free advertising.”

For some, this practice is still relevant. For others, new measurement tools from granddaddy companies such as Cision, BurrellesLuce and BusinessWire, newer mainstays as Google with its google trackbacks, and buzz words like social listening and social engagement, reach are being applied to dashboards for their social analytics tools. The key here is to apply humanistic value to each.

New measurement tools from granddaddy companies as Cision, BurrellesLuce and BusinessWire are a few in a continually crowded playing field. Photo: Abbe Sparks Media Group

Thankfully, in the ever evolving era of digital, times have changed. Public Relations and its value firmly stand on its own two feet. I’m sure many of you non-PR-centric pros are now thinking “spoken like a true spinster.” But, in all seriousness, the lines between public relations, advertising, marketing and digital PR and marketing are now blurred.

The vaunted Barcelona Principles. Photo: Abbe Sparks Media Group

Today, we have commonality: the collective We; integrated departments and campaigns; ad agencies with public relations arms, and PR agencies with marketing divisions. And, everyone in the marcom industry is either on the digital bandwagon or about to hop on. If not, they’re missing the ride completely.

Successful brands, nonprofits, causes, and corporations are those that ‘get’ the vision of a unified voice in all their communications endeavors – messaging, objectives, strategy and results. PR Measurement Conference keynoters and panelists from all parts of the spectrum – non-profits, agencies, authors, researchers, providers, corporations and government agencies — each had their own spin on how best to listen, learn, analyze and measure to demonstrate PR’s value in and of itself and as part of a bigger campaign.

Creating dashboards with different metrics and headers such as PESO (paid, earned, shared and owned channels} vs. vanity (number of followers and likes) were key buzzwords throughout. The common thread: the end game. Dependent on goals: is it to:

  • IDENTIFY influence to learn effectiveness for the next PR campaign?
  • MEASURE effectiveness based on certain criteria and behavioral patterns?
  • LISTEN to discover true audiences for a brand?
  • PROVE PR’s VALUE: just show how good your agency/department and/or the campaign is? Or
  • All of the above
Meredith Stevens, Director of Digital Strategy for The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association displayed their dashboard at a panel on Integrated Measurement: How to Sell PESOS to Senior Leaders and Client. Photo: Abbe Sparks Media Group

Net, net: Whether you’re the client or agency, companies are still in a constant search for a universal social listening, measurement and analytics solution. PR pros have been striving to find the best data system to validate PR’s worth to upper management. After attending the conference, I soon realized we are still searching.

I’ve mentioned the hope to find a universal analytics system for time efficiency and effectiveness in an earlier blog about social media week, and the same holds true here – there are “Different Strokes for Different Folks,” but no answer yet or unilateral consensus on which method is best. And, when it comes to proving your PR or marcom’s value — It’s still based on whatever your client’s suite spot is – messaging, branding, audience, results, etc. Have a wonderful Wednesday. as

Tags: #powerofpr #AbbesSparks #sociallistening #prmeasurement #prnews

By Abbe Sparks

Abbe Sparks is the Founder of Abbe Sparks Media Group & Socially Sparked News. A social entrepreneur, she is a social media and content influencer who has been covering the entertainment, music, tech and advocacy sectors for over 25 years. A member of US Press Association, she has written for many online and print publications including the UK's Blues Matters Magazine, Big City Rythm & Blues & her former column 'Abbe's Sparks' for RFPalooza. You can also find her stories on Medium & Tumbler. Twitter: @asparks01

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