Next Tuesday PR News is hosting a webinar on a topic some public relations pros know a bit about, but nearly all of us would like to learn more: SEO for PR.
The topic couldn't be timelier as organizations across industries are pouring substantial energy and money into creating sophisticated content strategies because if target audiences can't find that content online, it has limited value. As luck would have it, PR people--who create a lot of the documents, videos, social media posts and graphics that companies intend for widespread consumption--are in a great position to support SEO.
David Cockburn, SEO and online marketing analyst at Texas Instruments, will provide tips on tools and talk about how to make time for SEO and Jolina Pettice, executive director of operations at TopRank Online Marketing, will offer pointers on things like how to identify keywords and optimize social content. I'll chat about how to optimize press releases, make PR support link building strategies and generally keep up with Google when it's not your full-time job.
I hope to see a few Schwartz MSL friends and family members there.
This quote appears more than 16 million times on a Google search. The meaning is clear, but there is a hidden piece of wisdom that many people overlook: You won’t know it is a journey of a thousand miles, unless you measure it. And it sure helps if you measure from the beginning, rather than after things are done. (Just ask any NFL referee).
PR pros (and their executives) want to understand the effectiveness of their PR campaigns, yet too often PR pros don’t look to measure until the end of the campaign. This is a recipe for disaster. There is no silver bullet for PR measurement. But the following are two things every marketer, PR pro and corporate executive needs to remember.
If you don’t test your message and set a benchmark in the beginning, you will:
A) Likely conduct a campaign that doesn’t get the full results you could hope for, and... B) Scramble at the end to show how much you have grown. Particularly if it comes to social media where many tracking tools are time limited.
The Barcelona Principles gives a great framework for measuring PR activities. They look at outcomes rather than outputs. But even they miss a few things. We have to challenge conventional wisdom, and invest in benchmarking prior to starting PR campaigns. More companies are doing it, but there is still room for improvement. Allocating 5-10% of the overall budget for measurement and benchmarking will do wonders for designing a measurable, effective program.
We need to know where we started from in order to know where we are going. It’s why Google Maps needs both a starting point and a destination. Without our current address, it’s really tough to navigate the right route, let alone go 1,000 miles. Just like Google Maps gives us multiple routes, there is no one true metric. Use the budget for testing your assumptions, making sure it tracks to business results and avoids the "thud factor".
Don’t be seduced by shiny measurement reports. There are dozens of vendors out there selling PR measurement dashboards. They present things as bubbles, waves, spokes, wheels and clouds. Dashboards are useful and essential tools, but never forget Insight matters more than dashboards.
Quantitative measurement without insight frequently misses the boat. Site visits may go down, but did it occur when your customers had lost power? Your competitor increased their followers more than you, but who were they? Research shows Message A had the most resonance, but did it resonate with your top target audience? "Why" is the most important question in PR measurement.
And please, please stop using Ad Value Equivalency and Multiples. In 40 years of PR research, neither has been proven accurate. Let’s measure what matters and what helps.
Thunderstruck, ACDC's awesome track, was the background to a video of Boston in it's glory with sunny skies and a fancy helicopter winding through the neighborhoods below. Flash to Darmesh and Brian (HubSpot co-founders) wearing track suits and aviators enjoying the ride. Finally, after lots of lead up- they "landed" at the conference and gave a funny and formal welcome to #Inbound2012.
1. First up was a discussion about horizontal content. This is content thats broad and thin that people will find when searching broad market category search words. He's a music lover and the example was typing in "indie music concerts" where results span from live music in a particular city to worldwide festivals and bands.
2. After this broad discussion, he explained vertical content that is much more specific and deep. This is content to help drive people into very specific search terms and where you may type in the actual band name in the search like "sts9 tour" bringing you right to the exact content you are looking for. (sound tribe sector 9, yeah, I've seen them!)
3. Last, and most important is Real Time content: discussions and content about whats going on right this moment. This instant. RIGHT NOW! Using a #bostonlivemusic as a search explains what's happening right now.
Lessons learned: Is one of our clients doing something cool today? We CANNOT operate in campaign mode, we have to unlearn this "planning" mode and go live! Discuss current content and keep the conversation relevant!
Did I forget to mention that he brought Cyndi Lauper up and she sang some blues to kick us off?
5 Steps to Becoming an inbound Ninja- Everyone Watch Out!
This discussion was led by Mark Kilens, manager of customer training, HubSpot @markkilens
1. Goal setting- setting smart monthly goals for traffic and leads is a great way to get started on your inbound plans.
2. Traffic generation- Be social. Be fun. And always be creating content! Mark straggly stated, "Live by the 50/50 rule: 50% of your own content 50% other peoples content"
3. Conversion- Create lead generation content (white papers, ebooks, guides, webinars) where the commitment to read that content is a little higher. From there, create a call to action- landing page- and most importantly a thank you page with next steps.
4. Nurturing- nurture leads into becoming customers through both the lead generating content and the social content. Create smart lists: all of the leads that downloaded an ebook and are 4 weeks old and are b2b. Narrow the list and send them a relative blog through EMAIL MARKETING. Build trust by sending relevant info at the right time.
5. Analyze - Measure the views and make sure calls to action are several pages. From there, look at Clicks to determine how many people are actually clicking on the call to action. Finally, analyze the submission rate of that call to action
Keynote Rand Fishkin, @SEOMOZ @randfish "Choose Short Men & Tall Women"
To get the talk going, Rand creatively showed us two graphs:
1. Male Messaging & Female Attractiveness Graph (men think all women are attractive and will talk to everyone)
2. Female Messaging & Male Attractiveness Graph (women think nobody is attractive and will talk to only a very few that could possibly be attractive)
Digging deeper, we saw that women say they will only look at men above 5'9 and it's just completely irrational!
Removal of a single, irrational bias may yield remarkable results!
From there, Rand discussed 12 bias's that we marketers have about SEO. For example, the # bias was listed as: Ranking Position is all That Matters. This is simply untrue. The CTR (click through rate) is influenced by more than position. Sometimes, it's the authors photo listed third in the search results or possibly a link with amazon ratings that's fifth on the list that is more important to viewers etc. It can even be the date of publication that is enticing moreso than the first positioned link!
For a deeper review of this talk and many more, including Social Media 3.0 -a review of the relationship between individuals and brands, stay tuned to for more news from #INBOUND12!
As of August 8, Great Britain has seen an overwhelming amount of support on Twitter and Facebook, securing more than 3,000,000 mentions over the past 30 days. Even weeks before the Olympics started, #TeamGB was tweeted thousands of times daily. The public using the hashtag #TeamGB or #TeamGreatBritain included remarks about being proud of their country or would also include the hashtag #OurGreatestCountry. Specifically, there was a lot of support for Jessica Ennis, Tom Daley and Mo Farah on social media.
Even with the gold medal for country spirit, Great Britain is behind USA and China in total medals. But, USA and China spirit on Twitter has been a little short. The USA spirit peaked around the swimming events and then started to die down after Phelps, which makes me question: in the USA, are we more ‘TeamUSA’ or ‘TeamPhelps’?
Conversation around Michael Phelps dominated the social discussion in the Olympics, doubling the total number of mentions for #TeamUSA, and Phelps saw over 500,000 more Twitter mentions than Great Britain’s prideful spirit. Below, you’ll find the top 10 countries with the highest social media discussion.
Last night, millions of Americans were transfixed by the gold-medal winning performance of the U.S women’s gymnastics team. The “Fab Five,” as members of the media now fondly call them, made history by catapulting the U.S. to its first Olympic gold in women’s gymnastics since 1996.
However, one look at the social media discussion shows that Americans (and the NBC announcers) were far more consumed by concern for Jordyn Wieber—the reigning world champion who was narrowly edged out of the women’s all-around final earlier this week—than cheering on the team or team members who did advance to the women’s all-around final.
At around 11 p.m. last night when the events were airing, Wieber was the subject of at least 9,000 tweets, blog posts, and Facebook posts, compared to Raisman and Douglas who garnered about 3,300 and 2,500 respectively. Even today, Wieber continues to dominate.
Raisman and Douglas will both advance to tomorrow’s all-around final, giving the U.S. another plum shot to win gold. Raisman brought the house down with a floor routine and Douglas overcame a months-long struggle on her balance beam routine to prevail, yet neither sparked much conversation in the blogosphere or Twitterverse.
Wieber also trumped mentions of Team USA in relation to gymnastics by about 4,000 mentions.
Overall, Wieber received about 46 percent share of voice for all discussion about U.S. women’s gymnastics and the athletes competing.
This data raises an interesting question: Do setbacks inspire the American public to chime in more than success stories? And if not, why do you think discussion about Wieber overshadowed the tremendous performances other team members delivered last night?
The Olympic Blog Guest Post is courtesy of Michelle Hirsch, a member of the Schwartz MSL Research & Insights Group
When it comes to social media discussion and celebrity, the answer is a resounding no.
To date, U.S. Olympians have won five gold medals in the 2012 games. They have been mentioned 176,568 times on social media over the past few days. Some, such as Lochte and Franklin are household names. As of now Franklin is a slightly bigger social media phenomenon than Lochte.
But what about the other gold medalists?
Matt Grevers is getting short shrift behind Lochte and Phelps, which just shows the danger of being overshadowed by competition that have bigger brand names to begin with (despite Grevers being tied for the most medals to date).
And if you are Kim Rhode or Dana Vollmer? You are not getting the attention you deserve. Rhode won a Gold in Women’s skeet, yet has been mentioned only 1,598 times over the past few days. To put it in perspective, that is a 0.8% share of voice. Even then, she is beating Dana Vollmer, gold medalist who won the women’s 100m butterfly, who received a bit more than 1,400 mentions.
This reinforces that point that while social media is increasing Olympic buzz to a height never seen before, it is still being driven by the more prominent sports and what NBC makes a focus.
The XXX Olympiad is being called the "first social media Olympics." While I don't agree with the moniker, more attention is being paid to both the social media aspects of the Games and the availability of content as never before.
The members of the Schwartz MSL Research & Insights Group are die-hard Olympics fans. I remember staying up and watching wrestling at 1:00 a.m. for previous Olympics. The breadth of coverage has been great this year – my two sons and I loved watching the women’s foil matches on Saturday afternoon.
As the Olympics approached, we wanted to see - with the democratization of the Olympics through social media, are once niche sports letting their fans and followers communicate as never before?
The answer seems to be a resounding "yes." While swimming and gymnastics continue their dominance (69% share of voice), over the past three days, the other two most discussed sports were water polo and beach volleyball. Although it must be noted, discussion of these events spiked right after they aired on the main NBC broadcasts, showing the power of the network’s spotlight.
Don't believe me? See for yourself…
Most of the conversations for some of the niche sports revolved around people commenting on how cool it was, how surprising they were to watch and how tough the athletes were. There were quite a few jokes as well. When it came to the “majors” more discussion was around the results.
Note: Schwartz MSL used Radian 6 to analyze the social media discussions across Twitter, blogs and other channels since the opening ceremony. We used common event names, plus permutations (i.e. swimming included event types as well as Phelps and Lochte). We only looked at social media in English and the topic spread may well be different in different countries of the world.
What do you think about social media and the Olympics so far?
It’s March, which can only mean one thing to the Schwartz MSL Research Group- it’s time to once again get out our calculators and basketballs- it’s Social Media March Madness time.
Since we first started measuring social media muscle amongst college fan bases back in 2008 (we believe we were the first to do it), the NCAA Social Media rankings have slowly become one of our favorite and most popular analyses of the year. This year, two members of the Schwartz Research Group (Bill Bode and Kiley Phalan) took the lead. As Syracuse alum, Kiley had high stakes rooting on her Orangemen. On the other hand, Bill’s alma mater, Towson University barely missed the tournament. (Just kidding. This year, Towson set a NCAA Division-I record 41-game losing streak. Go Tigers!)
Twitter exploded in 2011, and college hoops fans have taken notice. After years of using Facebook fans as our primary data point, this year, the Schwartz MSL Research Group enhanced and refined our methodology. We realized Facebook fans of the Schools main page did not measure engagement with the basketball team. When analyzing brands it is essential to analyze the right basket. Additionally, with so much sports commentary happening on Twitter, we added that to our analysis for the first time this year.
How do we determine a winner? To determine each school’s SMPR (Social Media Power Ranking), we used the following formula: (# of Facebook fans for each college basketball team + # of Twitter followers for each college basketball Twitter handle/Number of students attending the university, according to Wikipedia.) Sure, it’s not an exact science, but it’s the closest we can get to assess each school’s social media prowess and compare them against each other. This also eliminates school size as a factor in determining the winner.
We won’t keep you waiting. Ladies and gentleman, your 2012 March Madness Social Media Power Rankings:
Observations: • Kansas takes the top prize over Duke, with a SMPR of 5.244 • Last year’s winner, Ohio State, is eliminated in the first round this year to #15 seed Loyola MD. This is likely due to our change in methodology, requiring the Facebook and Twitter fan pages to be basketball-exclusive (Ohio State has 1,135,676 likes, but only 18,042 fans of the Basketball team). This is the biggest upset throughout the tournament. • The West is easily the weakest bracket. Memphis is able to wiggle their way into a Final 4 appearance, despite the fact that Syracuse, UNC, Gonzaga and UConn all have stronger rankings- luck of the draw! • This year’s biggest buzzer beater was the closest match up we’ve seen in the history of Schwartz MSL’s SMPR- Memphis topped Mizzou in the Elite 8 with a difference of .002. • Two members of the Schwartz MSL Research Group, @mcclennan and @kphalan, swear Syracuse will do better in the Dance.
The Top 10 by Social Media Power Ranking: • Kansas- 5.244 • Duke- 4.577 • UNC- 3.957 • WVU- 3.307 • Gonzaga- 3.165 • Syracuse- 2.811 • UConn- 2.205 • Memphis- 1.832 • Mizzou- 1.830 • Michigan State- 1.650
Today was a great day at SxSW. I had the pleasure of attending three different sessions on payments and mobile wallets, one on the future of retail and a most inspiring session that looked at updating classic iconic ads for today’s technology.
I was prepared to write a very payments-focused post. But as I was thinking about today, I realize the key lessons for PR and business professionals transcend the payments market. Every presenter today, in their own way, was talking about convergence.
What do I mean?
Too often communications, marketing and business professionals think about communications and sales channels. Despite our best efforts we silo our thoughts. What does mobile allow us to do for payments, what business use can we get from mobile devices, what is the future of digital video?
While that thinking is important, it can also be limiting. It was expressed in different ways on the different panels, but it came down to a few observations.
Mobile payments isn’t about payments. If all you think about is taking a contactless card and putting it on a smartphone, you are missing the bigger opportunity and the market won’t grow. Isis is taking it a step further and realizing that for mobile to succeed it needs to be better, faster and cheaper. As I discussed yesterday, they are betting on loyalty, security and a better shopping experience to be the growth drivers.
But the discussion at the FutureShop panel made me realize there is more to it than what even Isis is saying. We need convergence and to see how all the channels can work best together. The retailers on this panel were nowhere near as optimistic about NFC as the payments players in other sessions. But they saw an even bigger picture. Convenience and loyalty offers are great. But that is just looking at one side of the opportunity. When retailers configure their stores to take advantage of mobile technology, it will prosper. The speakers gave examples of one company that had a scavenger hunt like game that lead people through the store to daily specials. These retailers see the iPhone turning into the helpful sales clerk of years gone by.
Seth Priebatsch of Scvngr challenged the status quo, but he added another piece to the puzzle. With loyalty blending with analytics businesses and communicators can adjust consumer shopping habits using game theory. In Philadelphia they ran a 45-day test that showed rainy days correlated to significantly less restaurant revenue. So they designed dynamic deals to encourage people to visit a restaurant on rainy days and saw a significant business lift.
It is only by putting the wallet vision of ISIS together with the bricks and mortar innovations of Future Shop and some of Scvngr’s futuristic ideas that we truly can see the shape of the future of mobile payments come together. Without all three perspectives, without the gestalt of the different perspectives the success will not be complete.
This transcends payments. This is a lesson that communications professionals should take to heart. We need to make sure we are not narrowing our vision to influencer channels, social media strategy or analyst relations. Sure those can drive results. But we need to look not just at how they work together and challenge ourselves to find at new ways in which they can work together.
Google and Coke did just that with projectrebrief.com (along with other brands). The project updated four iconic ads for today’s mediums.
The premise was powerful, yet simple. We don’t want to do social media campaign. We want to do a campaign that is social. What Coke did is amazing. They made it possible for someone to actually send the world a Coke. Consumers could record a video on the site, and send a free Coke to a number of machines around the world. Someone would receive your message in less than 90 seconds (after it was reviewed for content) and could then thank you. You would receive that video a minute later.
It is powerful. It is social and it harnesses physical, digital and social channels to create a result much greater than the sum of the individual parts. More communicators need to think like that. If we do so, our programs will be much more compelling, we will gain better understanding of consumers and drive greater business results.
So join me in always looking for ways to advance convergence. We won’t regret it.
It was so popular yesterday, I decided to end with it again today. The five most quotable observations from Sunday at SxSW:
Pharma is not bad. Pharma is probably going to save your life
Security is not a selling point for consumers. Criminals will find ways, and consumers think the phone is less secure even if it is more secure.
We are on the precipice of shopper 3.0 – The combination of Wed, brick & mortar, and mobile.
Tools today are an extension of our mental, not physical self. The shape of technology tools has changed dramatically over time, this is not the case with many physical tools.
If you want to drive consumer engagement, get people to look forward, not back.
If you have any questions in this post, leave a comment or tweet me at @mcclennan to meet up at SxSWi.
Saturday at SxSW was much more interesting than Friday. I had the pleasure of attending a very wide range of panels. The topics included strategic communications, Dad bloggers, enterprise social media, the future of mobile wallets, a comedian/activist keynote, and a look inside Joss Whedon’s head. The panels were a mix of both aspirational visions and cautionary tales.
The sessions were all great learning experiences, but they present something of a challenge. How do you blend parenting lessons from Leviticus with social analytics and loyalty programs? While many of these sessions merit their own posts (and will likely get them in the future), I wanted to focus on overarching themes that I noticed.
I would say there were two key takeaways from these sessions.
Destroy the labels
Know who you are
From the Mmbile wallet to NFC Chips to Dad bloggers, people and companies are too often failing to reach their full potential because they are succumbing to easy labelization. Don’t get me wrong, there is immense power in the study of groups and flocking, but if you too quickly group someone, you may come to the wrong conclusion or miss opportunities. I saw that time and time again today.
This is particularly insidious when it comes to Mom bloggers. Mom bloggers are too often defined by who they are rather than who they write about. Very few “Dad” and “Mom” bloggers blog about parenting. They are parents who blog. A mom blogger who writes about beer or food, should not be lumped in the same category as one who writes about technology or parenting. I personally have seen too many companies make this mistake. The lists created by influencer tools may serve as a good start, but influencers are not Oreos. Each is unique and needs to be understood and communicated with in context.
The same lesson applies to the mobile wallet. First of all, there is a blurring between mobile wallet and P2P payments and this line needs to be clearly understood. It also applies to enterprise social media when “employees” are lumped together as one audience as companies roll out solutions. Some of the best advice from IBM today was to understand what your corporate culture is like and what tools employees use to work and to communicate, and enhance those existing tools rather than make everyone conform to new tools. If you try to force people to do something they do not want to do, you will end up with an empty wiki, upset employees and wasted budget.
The second point is to know who you are. If you have a niche, carve it out. Just don’t let others put you in that niche.
Isis in the digital wallet space seems to clearly know this. They understand that in order to convince people to move away from contactless cards and Mag Stripe they need to offer more to retailers and merchants. They are betting their success on the premise that bringing loyalty cards and coupons into an integrated whole to provide consumers savings and convenience; and providing retailers a chance to impact consumer purchasing behavior before a transaction will push them over the edge. (That and retailers being penalized by the issuers if they do not adopt NFC by 2015).
I am not sure I agree with them completely, and I know not everyone in the audience did. Consumers have shown amazing willingness to stay with what works. As one panelist pointed out, 10 years ago the cover of Card Transactions was “Mobile Commerce is Ready for Takeoff” and we are still discussing its pending rise today. Additionally, consumers have shown a willingness to have multiple loyalty cards and apps, and there are other alternatives to impact pre-shopping behavior today (such as eGiftcards – technology from a client of mine - and location based deals).
The audience definitely did not all agree about the easy path of NFC. My most popular tweet of the day was “NFC being positioned as the Borg. Do not resist. You will be assimilated.”
Knowing who you are also helped many companies in the first panel I attended of the day. The reaction to Zappos’ data breach was much less negative than most breaches of its type. That was because Zappos quickly communicated in a way that was appropriate for its customers.
This post is getting long, so I want to wrap it up with the five most quotable observations of the day:
Before you make a critical business decision, ask yourself – what would John Stewart say about it?
Great ideas are not always great and not always well received.
Bloggers have more influence over purchasing decisions than traditional celebrity endorsers do
48% of B2B CEOs say social media helped generate qualified leads
Voice of customer research is not for validation, it is for discovery
For the second year in a row, the Schwartz MSL Research Group worked with Business Wire to determine how many PR professionals are optimizing their news release headlines for SEO. There was slight improvement compared to last year, but there is still a long, long way to go.
The two most important elements for optimizing a news release headline are keyword inclusion and brevity. In terms of brevity, a full release headline must be 65 characters or fewer to be fully displayed in Google.
Many search engine optimization (SEO) experts, including our experts here at Schwartz MSL, advise that companies try to keep the characters in the headline under 70 characters. Anything beyond that will be less effective in supporting a company’s SEO.
This year, the Schwartz MSL Research Group, with invaluable help from Business Wire, analyzed the headlines of more than 16,000 news releases issued over Business Wire in a 31 day period (July 26, 2011 to August 25, 2011). This is the same period we examined last year. Since Schwartz MSL cannot know the keywords that thousands of companies are hoping to use to optimize their content and releases, the Schwartz Research Group focused on headline length as a success factor.
Most PR professionals are not fully optimizing their headlines. (I am sure Schwartz MSL is guilty of that as well from time to time.) Our analysis showed that only 19.5% of all releases have headlines with 65 characters or fewer, a one percent increase over last year. When we look at 70 characters are less, the total is 23.7%, an increase of less than one percent.
While the majority of releases are under 150 characters, we did see some examples that were much longer than the recommended length. The most egregious cases were the 2% of releases with headlines in excess of 300 characters, with one headline that was over 1,800 characters. The shortest headline we found was 21 characters, which is also probably not ideal for SEO as it’s unlikely that enough of the company’s keywords were included. Overall, the analysis found the average headline length to be 123 characters, unchanged from 2010.
The Schwartz MSL Research Group has written a Research Brief that takes a more in-depth look at this topic. If you would like additional analysis, including buzzword usage, and the geographic headline faceoff, you can download it here
Over the years, I have probably been to hundreds of trade shows. My clients frequently ask me what I think of trade show/Expo X and if they should exhibit/speak there.
To me it always boils down to:
Who will be there?
Will you have a chance to engage meaningfully with prospects (and the media/bloggers)?
How crowded will it be?
What commitment is involved.
How much will it cost?
This weekend I ran across a company that deserves praise for picking an absolutely perfect trade show for them - Bissel.
I took the family to LEGO Kidsfest. A three day 140,000 sq. ft. LEGO extravaganza.
One of the exhibits was "Big Brick Pile” a 50x100' file of LEGO bricks. At the end of the pile Bissel was there demonstrating the power of its Super Sweep Turbo (it is not a vacuum) to pick up LEGO bricks of all sizes.
Kids were lining up to use the sweeper, pick up bricks and dump them out again.
This is a great example of experiential marketing where the company identified a use of its product, and provided prospects a chance to try it in a real work environment. The Bissel staff was also handing out coupons and explaining the three different stores you can purchase the product at.
What really drove this home to me was after my four year old swept up LEGO bricks for the third time and almost go into a fight with a six year old over who got to pick up the bricks next - My wife turned to me, grabbed me by the collar, looked in my eyes and told me "I don't care about the 'husband rule' that says 'thou shalt not buy your wife appliances as a gift.' I want this. I want this. Do you understand me?"
I am positive my wife was not the only person with that reaction.
So a tip of the hat to the Bissel marketing executives, and a story for all companies to think about. Does your trade show participation and display create that type of reaction from prospects? If not, what can you do to create that scenario.
Today there is a lot of discussion going on about President Obama's speech and issues around it. Here on the Crossroads blog we tend to not discuss politics, so I will leave the political analysis to others. But I wanted to compare and contrast what President Obama said last night to the Twitterverse's reaction to what he said - so we as professional communicators could see if his message was championed by the people who watched and engaged via social media.
The results were surprising.
The word cloud shows that President Obama clearly focused on jobs, economy, people, business, tax, and companies.
The Twitterverse called out something different:
It is interesting to note that of the words President Obama said, only economy was used frequently. Surprisingly, job/jobs was barely discussed, users on Twitter preferred the term "work."
Also of note, there were more than 20,000 "spam" tweets using the term Obama in the past 24 hours. (Unless I missed something and Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Beyonce really have something to do with the political discourse.)
Have you ever counted the number of Google applications you use on a daily basis? Google, Gmail, Google Reader, Google Talk, Google Maps and Google Docs are indispensible to me personally (the jury is still out on Google+) and it seems like at least once a week someone tips me off to a tool that makes my professional life more efficient as well.
Many of Google’s tools are designed to assist in ad targeting, but they can be incredibly useful for PR as well. Here are three you really should try if you haven’t already:
•Google Analytics: It came as a shock to me today that one of our clients wasn’t already using Google Analytics on their website and is the real impetus for this post. There is no reason why anyone with a website shouldn’t run Google Analytics, in my opinion, and hundreds of reasons why you should. This free tool enables you to better understand where your visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your site. Many of our clients share access to Google Analytics with us, and this allows us to examine the impact of media coverage we generate based on the traffic it sends. It helps us fine-tune our outreach and ensure we’re targeting the most important media outlets for our clients.
•DoubleClick Ad Planner: Enter a URL and Google will present you with traffic statistics and, more crucially, detailed demographic data. For example, the mom blog ConsumerQueen.com had 140,000 unique visitors last year. 88% were female, 61% were between 35 and 44, 73% had attended some college and 46% had a household income of $25,000 - $49,999. You can also see the sites those visitors also visited as well as their interests. This is valuable data for evaluating bloggers and getting the real insight behind a publication’s circulation numbers. The only downside is it doesn’t work for lower traffic sites.
•Google Adwords Keyword Tool: There have been loads of gripes about the accuracy of Google’s Keyword Tool but word on the street is that they’ve changed the algorithm and earned back respect from SEO experts. From a PR perspective, Google’s Keyword Tool helps you determine the best keywords to use to optimise the content on your website and in press releases by telling you how many searches there are for your search terms, and related terms, and what the competition is like.
Please do tell: what are your favourite Google tools for PR?
As a public relations firm that deals with consumer technology companies, we always like to keep on top of the current trends and cultural memes. We were talking internally about how certain issues can be covered dispoportionately and decided to engage the Schwartz Research Group to do a quick look at what Americans are discussing in social media.
The question we asked was simple: What is garnering the larger share of discussion on social media: The debt ceiling debate or the NFL Lockout?
These are definitely popular topics. They key phrases were mentioned 307,308 times in the past seven days.
Following are two graphs that show the discussion on blogs and Twitter over the past seven days (when the Lockout ended, and including feedback from the President's 7/25 national speech on the Debt Ceiling):
While overall the debt limit discussion may slightly trump the NFL lockout discussion (by 28,300 blog posts/Tweets), when it comes to breaking news, the NFL beat the president.
If you would like a full-sized version of the first chart, just click below
I've been considering a post I read last week from Joshua Benton on the Nieman Journalism Lab blog. I wouldn't say that I missed the point that Mr. Benton is making in "Decline, plateau, decline: New data on The Daily suggests a social media decline and a tough road ahead." He's talking about the early success, or maybe lack thereof, of The Daily, a news brand launched two months ago for the iPad. As I read his post, however, I thought about some general implications for how companies measure the effectiveness of PR programs.
In the post, Mr. Benton describes how he's extrapolating information about the size of the paid readership of The Daily. He has to resort to an educated guess because "[n]o one outside of News Corp. and Apple has a reliable way of knowing how often people read The Daily." Contrast this to data available about most websites and web-based publications, which can sort of be measured using tools like Alexa.com and Compete.com.
As a surrogate for those tools, Mr. Benton looks at stats about the volume of Daily articles that paid subscribers share via Twitter. Basically, more tweets probably indicate more readers. He knows that this is an imperfect measure, but it's what he's got. Using it, he's suggesting that the "general direction" for the publication is down.
That's probably interesting to the many people who are trying to figure out whether the iPad and other readers will help news publishers make more money. But for me, as a PR person, the take-away message is that as more content is consumed on iPads or other readers, it may become even tougher to measure the number of people a publication reaches. This makes the accuracy of one of the easiest PR metrics to gather--impressions--even more suspect.
But if publishers choose not to report their iPad or other reader figures, where does that leave PR people who tally results based on number of impressions? Making bigger and bigger guesses over time, it seems. To me, this argues for marketers making more of an effort to keep our collective eye on what really matters, which is action taken by people who read those articles. More website traffic? Shortened sales cycles? Improved reputation? These sorts of things can be tough or expensive to measure, so many companies pass them up in favor of what they can put their finger on.
Maybe Apple will become the new Cision and start selling data about how many people actually buy magazine and newspaper apps. In the meantime, I took Mr. Benton's post as a reminder to pay attention to evaluating what matters--action undertaken because of PR--and not to simply collect figures that are readily available.
Today, Salesforce announced its plan to acquire Radian6 for ~$326 million in cash and stock. Radian6 is one of the main social media monitoring and engagement tools we use at Schwartz Communications. This is good news for Radian6 employees, but what are the takeaways for the industry?
To my mind, it all boils down to another company betting that even more companies will realize the power of listening, and as a corollary, the power of engaging. Salesforce.com is one of the top sales and CRM solutions.
This is enhanced when you add inbound marketing companies, such as Hubspot, that can help sales and marketing nurture the most valuable customers and promising prospects. That is one reason Hubspot makes such a big deal of their Salesforce integration.
The social listening (and to a lesser extent engagement) offerings provided by Radian 6 are another piece in the customer engagement puzzle.
Good PR has always strived to understand the needs and desires of the customer and other key stakeholders. Only by understanding them can we give the most effective counsel to the organizations we represent. The future tie-in of sales/crm, social listening and nurturing should help companies develop deeper, more meaningful and effective relationships with their customers.
I am intrigued by the possibilities of this acquisition, but it will be interesting to see how it proceeds.
Some of Radian6’s greatest weaknesses are Salesforce's strengths. But I can also see the volume of data that Radian6 regularly captures overwhelming the needs and desires of many users and too much less than useful information being integrated into the Salesforce contact stream. As my wife often tells me, just because you hear what I am saying, doesn’t mean you are listening. The data is only good if it is processed and acted upon.
I don’t think this is the final piece of the puzzle. Integrating capabilities such as Rapleaf into the new Salesforce/Radian6 would create some very targeted and meaningful monitoring and lead to even greater success.
No matter how this acquisition proceeds, the winners will be the companies that increasingly engage with their customers through tailored, proactive communications.
Well it has been a week since the end of SxSW Interactive 2011. By this time, most of the attendees have recovered from the five days of non-stop seminars, parties, meet-ups and informal hallway networking. What did it all mean?
There are a few key takeaways from Schwartz’s discussions at SxSW that I thought would make sense to share with our readers.
Group Communications Overload – The “hot” market is definitely group messaging and communications. Between Foursquare, Gowalla, Scvngr, Whrrl, Hurricane Party, and others, there are more networks than ever before. To be honest, I see significant hurdles for most of these apps. The benefits of the new services are at most incremental over Foursquare and Gowalla, and do not give a reason to move. Hurricane Party impressed with its focus on parties, and is something I will check out at other industry events. But beyond that nice, I did not see market disruptors. We are seeing dot revs, not new products. The true innovators will need to be even more creative to stick out from the group communications babble.
Microblogging back channels are thriving – Every panelist faced competition – the Twitterstream. Between 20-40 people (including me) were using HootSuite or another tool to comment on what was being said, ask questions and be snarky. Those panelists that integrated the Twitterstream into their presentations had much more dynamic sessions. A few panelists even had other folks at their company monitoring the stream and providing real time feedback and commentary so they could focus on the talk, but also capitalize on the back channel discussion.
Uniform Optimism – Aside from the ubiquitous “SxSW isn’t what it used to be,” the people I spoke with at SxSW were uniformly optimistic. It didn’t matter if they were engineers, C-level, PR pros or venture capitalists. The attendees are all preparing for a coming innovation explosion. Most see it around mobile and connectivity, and I find it hard to disagree. This is no just limited to B2C, but B2B financial services markets are seeing the mobile possibilities.
This is just the beginning – Underlying the optimism was another undercurrent. Priebatsch from Scvngr talked about a coming layer (the game layer) that will go on top of the current social layer. I do not agree with all of his ideas, but it does show that there is still significant innovation to come. We are just at the infancy of the group communications. With the explosion of smartphones and apps, more sophisticated data modeling and group communications, what we see today will likely bear little resemblance to what we see in five years. And here at Schwartz we find that to be extremely invigorating.
For the past few years, to critical acclaim, the Schwartz Communications Research Group has conducted the NCAA Social Media College Basketball Bracket Analysis (we believe we were the first to do it in 2008). As a PR firm that deals with high-tech, healthcare and services companies, we live social media every day and have a love of metrics. Therefore, we asked ourselves what if the schools in the Big Dance had to compete based on their social media prowess, not their hoop skills? I mean, forget guard play, or how the Orangemen’s zone has been inconsistent…
Two members of the research group (Mark McClennan and Bill Bode) carefully evaluated the field of 64 and had the teams face off solely on social media skills and came up with a power ranking for each school. We kept the NCAA seeds and let them face off.
You may question - does this really work? Well in 2008, the NCAA Social Media Power Rankings were one of the few to predict Davidson's tremendous run deep in the tourney - so mock it at your peril.
How was the power ranking determined? It was determined by (# of Facebook users in the School/Team group or fan page (whichever was larger)/number of students at school according to Wikipedia). Note: Yes that includes alumni, but they count as fans in the stands cheering on the team. And if the students didn't join their schools network or the groups were hard to find...we considered that they didn't show up for the game. We recorded it in Excel and took it from there.
Is it mathematically perfect? No. But wait to you see our plans for next year! Do we encourage wagering on games or any other activity which may take this as anything other than entertainment - no.
Without further ado:
You can see the full size bracket. here. View image
As for surprises?
Ohio State runs away with it all. They have a SMPR of 14.95.
Butler is a strong #2 with a SMPR of 13.47
While Duke does well (8.29) it runs into a reinvigorated Texas team (8.98)
SDSU is the weakest #2 seed, and one in the weakest in the tourney (0.36) but it manages to squeak out a first round win.
The biggest buzzer beater? Wisconsin (2.064) vs. Kansas St (1.987) for a difference of 0.07.
The East and West Brackets are the toughest draw with 7 of the top 10 SMPR teams
For me, Sunday at SxSW could best have been described as analytics day. They decided to have all the research and measurement die-hards make the trek out to the AT&T Executive Conference center. The surroundings were plusher, the seats much more comfortable and the data was fascinating.
There were two interesting panels on measurement and analytics and the most exciting part is none of the speakers were from vendors. Shawn Brown from MIT’s Sloan Management Review and Chris Traganos at Harvard spoke about how they measured Web success and worked to increase traffic; while Elizabeth Winkler from the University of Texas - Austin, discussed how she and her colleagues developed a model that showed how Twitter chatter accurately predicted movie revenues.
Harvard was doing some very interesting things and relies primarily on five social media tools:
These are tools most of our readers know, but it shows that tools like these, used intelligently and backed by great content can deliver very good results. A few practical tips on how they grew traffic included advice such as:
Lots of tags are your friend: every story they push has 30 tags that are fed into blog aggregators
If you aren’t using Facebook’s OpenGraph and you create content, you need to start doing so. Instead of the share button, use the like button. Despite the power of the tool, you should check URL Linter to see what Facebook is getting and not getting.
Chartbeat is a perfect complement to Google Analytics. I haven’t used it on my sites, but I plan to check it out. It gives you real time analytics in a way Google does not.
Probably the biggest “huh” in the session was the tidbit that the smaller the URL, the less dense the QR code is, so it works faster. Keep using those URL shorteners, and make sure they point to a site that is optimized for mobile.
These are great practical tips for growing and analyzing site traffic.
This was a great primer for the next session that looked at how Twitter chatter could be used to tell how good a movie will do on a weekend. Elizabeth Winker and her team used a set of 20 servers to gather and aggregate tweets on movies and store than in a database for further analysis.
They first eliminated the false positives (which was very tricky for the movie “The Hangover”) and broke the results down by positive, negative and neutral using an automated system they built themselves. By then analyzing how many people said they planned to go to the movies and the reaction and buzz afterwards, they showed how positive Twitter chatter mapped nicely to box office sales for the 60 movies they analyzed.
One area Winker touched on briefly, but I think is worthy of further consideration is the power of Twitter and geolocation. They could map the Tweets on a certain movie to the subset of those that have enabled geolocation on their phones and break out the analysis and prediction on a regional level. This could help allocate ad and marketing spends to the areas where it is most needed. One Winkler didn’t explore that I would love to see is if there is greater correlation based on the chatter that is made immediately after a movie (which a movie company should be able to do by mapping the tweets to theatre locations). This also has implications for CPG and consumer technology companies.
The panels weren’t earth shattering, but they gave good practical advice and a glimpse into the future of quick, high-volume analytics.
Within SxSW there is a small group of die hard people that are involved in the financial services and banking industry that meet to discuss the role technology will play in the evolution of this market. Since I work with many companies in the financial services and payments industry, I always make it a point to check out the sessions.
The two most intriguing sessions of the second day of SxSW day both dealt with innovation. The first claimed to look at changes in the way lending happens thanks to new ways of looking at data. It really ended up being an excoriation of payday loans and an examination of new types of lending - from community based business loans to modified payday loans that are designed to focus solely on people paying their bills.
Payday loans and serving the underbanked are two issues that the industry has grappled with for a number of years. While I learned about some new technologies, a key takeaway is one that translates into the second session as well, clearly communicating your deals and offerings is a great way to build loyalty. And if you have a new service people need, they are likely to try it out.
The second panel of the day had a very unassuming name, "Banks, innovate or die!" it ended up being one of the most contentious and interesting panels I have been to in a while. A former Citibank employee, Lendingclub executive, SmartyPig and others were discussing the future of innovation in the banking industry.
The comments were cutting and included such gems as:
Citi is your bank, not your mother! It's not our job to remind you to pay your bills
Customer service is easy when you have just a few thousand customers
The key takeaways from this session were things that I have heard quite a few times in the past but are worth repeating:
People expect greater transparency from their financial institutions. To me though this is not necessarily how they are using your money, but helping customers better understand how their finances are being used as well as what fees they are being charged and what services are available. (full disclosure, Schwartz represents companies that provide services and products for banks and credit unions.)
Customer service is another challenge. Some called it a way to innovate, I see it more as a way to differentiate. It is important to note that the baseline customer service expectations continues to grow, so FIs that aren't using it as a way to get closer to the customer are missing opportunities and giving start ups and credit unions a chance to take their customers.
The most interesting point was made at the end of the session. The next battle for banks will not be against startups but likely against Google and Apple and others.
While the companies differed when discussing competitive threats, there was almost universal in identifying where they expect to see innovation over the next few years - mobile banking and payments. This is a shift even bigger than the introduction of the ATM, particularly as the younger generation that has their mobile phone as their main communications device begins to graduate college and enter the workforce. The moderator stated that by 2015 mobile will be the primary banking channel. The other area for innovation that many identified was in P2P loans.
The only other area of universal agreement was the need to revise FINRA rules to allow for greater social media engagement. Overall though the hours of discussion drove home two points:
The industry is experiencing a significant increase in the pace of innovation which will likely accelerate with mobile.
It is an exciting time to be working with companies in the financial services industry.
SxSW is alternately described as a tech party a la COMDEX in the mid 90s, Spring Break for techies, DEMO for those trying to reach young, hip, consumers and a conference that has jumped the shark. To me it is a great event and a great way to make connections, hear great speakers and have thought provoking conversations.To get myself in the right frame of mind, I listened to Alice's Restaurant on the plane flight to Austin.
For my first session at SxSW I went to hear industry pundit Brian Reich discuss how social media is like an asteroid approaching the earth. Basically his premise was that we need to fundamentally change the way we think about things, and nowhere is this more important than with those issues that transcend business (hunger, oppression, disaster relief). He believes that the way we address serious issues is no longer working.
We are not capitalizing on the power of the connected society. I agree with him in that the "networked" society is still in its infancy, and despite all our activities over the past 15 years, the true impact is still just now being felt.
What really stuck me was that many of the transcendent issues are the issues that businesses have been struggling with since the dawn of social media, and frankly, since communications became a strategic discipline.
How do we impact change?
Are we measuring the right things?
Raising awareness is a great and necessary first step, but it is not enough.
Don't get me wrong, there were great ideas that came out of the session (the crying need for more transparency in how donations are distributed, how giving people choices on how their money will be used will encourage more donations, etc.,)
I disagreed with some of the points being made. People that just gave money were being called lazy. I spoke up at that and pointed out there is a full spectrum of engagement. Business realize not everyone will be an evangelist for their product or spend hours on the messageboards answering questions. You need to treasure those folks, but you need to respect all stakeholders, regardless of their activity level. To do otherwise jeopardizes what you are trying to accomplish.
Another telling point to me is many of the people in the audience were from NGOs and were starting to realize the way they should measure needs to change. (I felt like I was at an IPR meeting). How many people tweeted about your cause is just a measure of activity. It's like the old days of PR measurement when hits were the only thing that mattered.
Even how much money you raise (while still vitally important) is just a measure of activity. The true way to impact change is to have NGOs and charitable organizations report on the tangible results. What did the money do?
In the end, the session was thought provoking and a great start to SxSW. It reminds us as communicators and interested parties that if we keep doing the same thing and just use new channels, we will have same challenges in new channels. We need to think differently and make sure we are solving causes, not just serving them.
Many of us here are at Schwartz Communications and the Schwartz Research Group are huge fans of American Idol. Some of us for the singing, some for the drama and some for the pure joy of social media analysis and water cooler talk.
Every year, as the season unfolds, Ryan Seacrest talks about how many votes are cast…but anyone who has worked in politics or public affairs knows that in order to get out the vote, you need good connections. The two keys to winning American Idol are great performances and a great fan base.
Now that the Top 24 are known and the voting will be open to the American public beginning on Tuesday night, the Schwartz Research Group decided to look at which contestants are already using social media to reach out to their fans, and who has an engaged, grassroots campaign already underway. With the introduction of Facebook voting, social media will be even more important this year.
Like Seacrest likes to say, the results were...surprising.
While Twitter is a great way to carry on conversations and engage one on one, it is still dwarfed by Facebook when it comes to the most popular way for fans to relate to American Idol contestants.
100% of the contestants had some Facebook presence (even if it was just 43 fans). Much fewer – 66% - had a Twitter presence (and 50% of the Twitter feeds were fan, and not contestant feeds).
If social media determined the Idol champ…today…it would be: Scotty McCreery (but frankly, the Research Group handicappers have him finishing 6th at best). McCreery also happens to be in the lead in VoteForTheWorst Fan voting…
The Bottom Three—When examining the 24, contestants Tatynisa Wilson, Rachel Zevita and Clint Jun Gamboa have the least overall social media fan engagement. With Tatynisa’s relative lack of air time, it will be interesting to see if and how that changes.
There is a definite gap between many of the contestants and it shows that some of them are already quite savvy in how they use social media. It will be interesting to see which gaps close and which expand.
What do you think about the contestants and their social media engagement?
Note: Photos courtesy of Fox. Followers and fan were determined on 2/25. Also, the Schwartz Research group does not believe it is just followers that matter. The intensity of their passion is also something that would need to be tracked over the coming weeks. Those contestants with the largest and most impassioned base are most likely to generate a high number of votes.
Earlier this week, I wrote about where the VW/Darth Vader SuperBowl ad failed (great ad, great for VW, little mention of the Passat). That caused me to ask myself about the long term social media impact of the SuperBowl ads. Thousands of people were tweeting about the #brandbowl, but after the game, social media discussion turned to identity fraud and other topics. Were these ads a $3 million one-time deal, or did they engender a longer discussion?
To check this, the Schwartz Research Group charted the conversation paths of 11 of the most popular ads according to BrandBowl and USA Today's AdMeter. The results were:
A larger version is available by clicking View image.
Looking at the discussion trends over time, only Chrysler, Groupon and Darth Vader/VW had any sort of notable discussion volume after the first day. All the ads had a slight bump the next morning as the social media world (and the marketing media) discussed what they liked and didn't like. Each of the three commercials had its own notable reasons for the way it performed.
Volkswagen - Notice the discussion around the ad started before the SuperBowl and it was still one of the most discussed commercials during the game. It was widely considered one of the best and has showed the most staying power.
Chrysler - While there are undoubtedly a few false positives in the chart, the Chrysler commercials received critical acclaim (and some pans) and were much discussed - particularly the 60 second Eminem/Detroit commercial.
Groupon - The negative reaction to the Groupon Tibet ad explains its initial spike and why the discussion has continued for so long - although it appears to be finally dying down.
So in the end, the best ads engendered discussion for at least a few days after the SuperBowl. But for most, the tweets and blog posts last just a little bit longer than the game itself.
I read two good blog entries yesterday about how marketers need to make sure they’re creating content that is engaging. One of them was a piece in PRWeek written by Schwartz president Bryan Scanlon. (I’m sure you’re all shocked I would speak highly of a blog written by my boss.) The other was a blog by Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, of whom I’m a big fan.
Both of them make basically the point that sometimes marketers lose track of the ultimate goal of content – to connect with or engage a community. In other words, yes, it’s important to create A LOT of content, but it’s more important that the content is educational and not overly self-promotional so your audience will come back for more. A marketer could create five eBooks and ten webinars in a year and say to their CEO, “You wanted content marketing, well mission accomplished!” But in reality, it only moves from being content creation to actual content marketingif you can show that you connected with the audience.
So how do you do this? There are many different ways to test whether your content is engaging, but as a start, I thought I’d just provide one thing to think about at each stage of deploying your content:
Before Deploying Content: This has been said before (and probably said best in Ann Handley’s book Content Rules), but before you put any content “out there,” you should make sure it’s solving a problem for your target audience. Ask yourself: “does my content explain a problem and provide a solution or does it only explain how my product/service works?” Ideally you’d present the problem, and help your audience to see many ways to solve it that will eventually lead them to you for help. Start with making it interesting, and hopefully the customers will come to you. This always reminds me of what 1960’s ad executive Howard Luck Gossage said: “People don’t read ads. People read what they’re interested in and sometimes it’s an ad.”
While Content is Being Consumed: Two words: trackable links. This is not at all a new way to measure engagement, but all of your content pieces should contain trackable links within them so you have data on which links were interesting enough for people to click on. It’s ok to say “500 people downloaded my eBook,” but it’s not a real measure of engagement unless you look at what they did once inside the eBook. You can also go way beyond data about clicks when measuring video content engagement using tools from VisibleGains and others. It’s critical to know how long people viewed certain segments and where there was drop off.
After: This may also seem obvious, but the best measure of engagement is what your audience does with the content after it was consumed. Did they forward or share the content with others or tweet about it? Did they come back and consume more content from you later (content that you were, of course, smart enough to push out to them)? Did you check in with them within a week and ask what they thought of the content? I’d rather have 200 people read a piece of content, share it, and return later for more content, than have 500 people read some content and never come back.
For many people, the Super Bowl is as much about the ads as it is the game. USA Today has its ad meter, the Boston Globe was highlighting Brand Bowl and numerous pundits and bloggers rank the ads.
My favorite commercial of the night was the Volkswagen Passat Darth Vader commercial, which my six year old son had us watch three times (and led to a bedtime wish for that Darth Vader outfit). Volkswagen broke conventional wisdom with the ad - they put it on YouTube days before the game.
I was also monitoring Super Bowl ad discussions, and one chart the Schwartz Research Group created really jumped out at me.
One of my concerns with Super Bowl ads is the possibility of the brand being lost as people latch on to the gimmick. In this case it definitely didn't happen. VW was mentioned 94.8 percent of the time along with Darth Vader during the largest discussion spike across all major social media channels.
Yet, the ad was for the new 2012 Passat. The Passat was mentioned just 15.9 percent of the time at the biggest spike in discussion and in just 14.7 percent of the discussions overall.
While this was a great ad for Volkswagen and created brand resonance, the Passat was overshadowed. That is always the danger when you are trying to communicate a number of messages. Which messages will the consumers latch onto? In this case, it wasn't that there is a new Passat coming.
This could also have been titled "When Surveys Go Bad."
Surveys are one of the most popular research tools in a public relations executive's quiver. Too often though surveys are abused, twisted and the methodology is tortured until it screams in pursuit of a compelling headline. Too many surveys don't use random sampling, or extrapolate from too small a sample size.
One of the most coveted placements for research for coverage is the USA Today "Snapshots" section. The editors there have high standards and typically require solid methodology, and an interesting angle.
Which is why I am scratching my head over today's (January 18, 2011) snapshot in USA Today's LIFE section.
Take a minute, click here and then on the LIFT tab and see if you can figure out what is wrong with the survey...
What struck me is the question: "Which utility or communication service is most important" (emphasis mine).
When you look at the results, they total 332%. Not 100%. You can't have more than one MOST important thing. That's the very definition of "most important." There should have been a forced ranking, or consumers should have been only able to choose one option.
Now don't get me wrong, I could have a lot of fun and see some interesting insight from the data. More than 1 in 3 Americans (More than 70 million over 18) would chose the Internet over water, heat or electricity (would they really)?
Cells phones are valued as much as the Internet.
The only way I can make this infographic make sense is if the question was "Do you agree with the following statement: X is the most important utility.") Where people could answer yes to more than one question.
The Schwartz Communications Research Group decided the best way to look ahead was to look back…specifically to look back at the lifecycle of the tech acronyms and buzzwords we have all grown to love (or hate).
This also gave us a chance to try Google Labs' new Ngram research tool. The search tool lets users examine the content of every book in the Google Books database, from 1800 to 2008, and determine how frequently a word appears. While this is by no means a comprehensive search, the database is large enough to identify some interesting trends.
For example this chart, which looks at some of the popular acronyms of the past few decades such as WYSIWYG and Y2K.
The new 2010 U.S. census data that is starting to be released today will have a profound impact on our economy. From shifting the balance of political power, to insights into changing American demographics, much of the data will take quite some time to digest.
Yet there are some practical concerns that public relations professionals should start incorporating starting today. Most importantly, the base numbers PR pros use when extrapolating from large, random-sample telephone surveys needs to change.
For the past 10 years of so, the more conservative approach has been to use the following data:
Number of Americans (total): 281,421,908 - It's actually the resident population as citizenship is not factored in to the number.
Number of Americans (over 18): 209.1 million
Number of households : 105.5 million
While we have to wait for many of the new numbers to come out, the main number is:
Number of Americans: (total): 308,745,538
Hopefully in February 2011 we will have updated information on how many Americans are over 18 and how many households there are.
While the Schwartz Communications Research Group typically uses the over 18 number for extrapolation, the overall number is important to note. If a survey found 5% of Americans engaged in an activity, this has shifted from 14 million to 15.4 million.
Note: Public relations professionals need to be careful when extrapolating data to be sure that it truly was a random sample, the sample size was large enough and they are following proper survey methodology.
The other element to stand out for me was the budget for the U.S. Census. It was more than $7 billion. (Although they should be applauded for coming in more than $1.8 billion under budget). Now who else would love a research budget like that?
What other information is striking you based on the Census report?
Sometimes when you analyze data, something jumps out at you that makes you really take notice. This morning, I was analyzing the social media volume and tone of the Charlie Baker and Deval Patrick campaign for Governor in Massachusetts. I had not paid much attention to it as Schwartz (and I) am not involved with either campaign.
Earlier this year, we analyzed the discussion around Brown vs. Coakley, and the data showed how Scott Brown clearly won the social media war (particularly among Twitter users).
When we analyzed social media conversations involving Patrick and Baker over the past 30 days, we found the following:
Overall, the conversation was relatively equal, with Patrick getting a bit more. But Gov. Patrick had a very significant spike on October 15 (which equaled 10% of all conversations involving Deval Patrick this month). The reason? President Obama came to Massachusetts to campaign for Gov. Patrick.
This really drives home the power of the presidency (and the power of personalities, influencers and mavens) to drive the conversation. There is nothing earth-shattering in the data, but it was interesting.
Some practical advice for all PR pros:
1) Look for influencers to help you move the needle on conversations.
2) Just because someone can generate discussion, doesn't make them influential. More in-depth analysis is required to determine if they just generate noise, or can shape the discussion and move opinion.
News release headlines are meant to convey information, draw a reader in, and aid SEO. But have public relations pros fallen victim to buzzword abuse in news release headlines?
Thankfully, the answer is no.
Earlier this month the Schwartz Communications’ Research Group released a brief that examined news release headlines and SEO. After analyzing more than 16,000 news release headlines from Business Wire, we found that more than 86% of news release headlines do not contain any of the top 20 buzzwords. Of course, that also means that 14% (or about 2200 releases/month) do contain a top 20 buzzword in the headline.
"Top" was the most overused buzzword, and it was used in only 1.9% of releases. This was followed by "solution" (1.83%). Following is the full chart.
The point here isn’t to say that you must avoid using these buzzwords at all costs, but it’s much more important to use the keywords being used in searches by your company’s target audience.
If you are interested in more information on this or other news release SEO topics, such as
Good writing should convey excitement, without the help of punctuation. A number of editors with whom we have spoken have a simple rule: you are allowed to use no more than three exclamation points in your writing your entire adult life.
While the Schwartz Research Group brief released this week looked at serious issues such as:
What are the most overused words in release headlines?
We also examined a few lighter issues. For example. The Schwartz Research Group analyzed the more than 16,000 releases issued over Business Wire in a 30 day period, and the good news is, only 0.5% of all releases contain “!”s in the headline. (Note, Schwartz excluded Yahoo! from the analysis, for that would skew the data).
Only 10 release headlines contained multiple exclamation points. For those who are curious, the Schwartz Research Group also found that only 0.4% of releases contained a question mark.
If you would like the full whitepaper, you can request it here.
CNN released the results of an "inaugural global research study into the power of news and recommendation." They conducted it by surveying 2,300 people around the world between June and August of this year to help advertisers understand the value of news stories that are shared via social media.
A CNN executive, Didier Mormesse, said in a statement that "the commerciality of the social media space is fast becoming apparent and this study means that for the first time, we are able to substantiate the value of shared news from an advertising perspective."
The results indicate, CNN says, that people who receive news from those they know through social networks are "19% more likely to recommend the brand that advertised around that story to others and 27% more likely to favor that brand themselves."
I bear in mind that CNN was looking at ads that accompany stories, not brands or companies mentioned in the stories themselves. As a PR person, I'd care more about the latter. But the study was still informative because it gives some insight into the most popular shared content (not to mention that it shows how CNN's been able to quantify the value of social media to their business). "Ongoing stories" about international or national news make up 65% of shared material, breaking news is 19% and 16% is stuff people are sharing to kill time or to provide a distraction. "Visually spectacular" stories are most likely to be shared via social media, as are pieces on science or technology.
CNN also notes that "the 80/20 rule applies to the findings. 27% of all sharers account for 87% of all news stories shared."
Adapting these survey results for PR, I think that if I can offer a compelling video or interesting photo to a journalist, it may make the resulting story more likely to be shared. In fact, you could back up a step and make what I think is the reasonable assumption that if you have images or video to offer, you may up your chances of being included in a story in the first place.
Another thing I think PR people can learn from CNN's survey results is that once the story appears, I'd want to make sure to get it to the 20% of people who push out 80% of news that travels via social media. Naturally I'd already need to know who in my industry is a prolific sharer or news and have worked to get them following me. If I can find the news just as soon as it appears and share it with them while it's still fresh and not hours old, I'd think it would up the appeal of my news to the 20%.
The Boston Globe is taking a different tack. On September 30, the Globe announced that they'll create a paid version of the site next year and make much of their content available only to subscribers. The paid approach has worked for WSJ.com, certainly. I'll be curious to see how things pan out for the Globe, although I suspect they won't if they don't offer some pretty differentiated content. (Paul Gillin takes a deeper look at what's up with the Globe with "Milking the Circulation Cow.")
I'd think the Globe will still make that content attractive to people who want to pass it around by allowing shared links to work for a short time.
To my eye, CNN's approach of showing the people who really pay the bills--advertisers--the value of sharing content via social networks, putting some specificity behind the kinds of stories that get shared and the resulting impressions that readers have of those advertisers seems more promising than sequestering content on a paid site.
That's just me, though. Which approach do you think is likely to succeed? Or are both strategies to making money smart given the companies' individual situations?
The two most important elements for optimizing a news release headline are keyword inclusion and brevity. A company’s top keywords should be included in the headline when possible and should be placed early in the headline. In terms of brevity, a full release headline must be 65 characters or fewer to be fully displayed in Google.
Many search engine optimization (SEO) experts, including our experts here at Schwartz, advise that companies try to keep the characters in the headline under 70 characters. Anything beyond that will be less effective in supporting a company’s SEO.
The Schwartz Communications Research Group, with invaluable help from Business Wire, analyzed the headlines of more than 16,000 news releases issued over Business Wire in a 31 day period (July 26, 2010 to August 25, 2010). Since Schwartz cannot know the keywords that thousands of companies are hoping to use to optimize their content and releases, the Schwartz Research Group focused on headline length as a success factor . The findings of this analysis were that the vast majority of PR practitioners are still not fully optimizing their headlines. (I am sure Schwartz is guilty of that as well from time to time.) Our analysis showed that only 18.4% of all releases have headlines with 65 characters or fewer.
While the majority of releases are under 150 characters, we did see some examples that were much longer than the recommended length. The most egregious cases were the 2% of releases with headlines in excess of 300 characters, with one headline that was over 1,000 characters. The shortest headline we found was 18 characters, which is also probably not ideal for SEO as it’s unlikely that enough of the company’s keywords were included. Overall, the analysis found the average headline length to be 123 characters.
This shows that many companies still have room to improve their press releases (even the social media releases).
The Schwartz Communications Research Group has written a Research Brief that takes a more in-depth look at this topic. If you would like additional analysis, including buzzword usage, a geographic analysis of effective headline writing and other headline analysis, you can download it here
The middle of this week, I zoomed off to attend the Digital PR Next Practices Summit put on by PR News. New York is an easy trip, so maybe I shouldn't have packed my "tell me something I don't already know" attitude, but that's how I approach all conferences. If I have to so much as budge from my desk, it needs to be worth it.
PR News didn't disappoint. As I sat and waited in vain for a wireless signal adequate to let me use my computer (let's not talk about why one would hold a tech conference in a building that has an anemic wireless network ... or maybe it's my computer), I scanned the attendee list. About 275 communicators from a range of big companies, including many huge consumer, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and tech brands. Plus universities, non-profits, government agencies and even religious organizations.
I had to resort to tweeting from my BlackBerry, but at that point didn't care because I was excited to be around so many other PR people. They were friendly and you can imagine just how loud a room of nearly 300 professional communicators can get.
The conference turned out to be excellent and well worth the time and money. I won't recap every session, but here are a few of my top observations.
The first panel, "Creating the Digital PR Dream Team," dug into the topic of getting the people and resources together to engage in and measure social media. The three panelists, who were from GM, the Archer Group and Kaiser Permanente, shared very specific info about who's on their social media teams and how they interact with corporate comm's, marcom, legal and so on. They talked about what they collaborate with agencies to achieve and what they prefer to handle internally.
The director of social media and digital communications from GM, Mary Henige, said they create one or two videos a week to share. This reminded me of a fantastic InsideView infographic on social media stats that I'd seen the night before. It says that Fortune 100 companies create an average of 10 videos each month to share online. I don't always think big companies lead the way in PR, but clearly they've got the budgets required to clean up in video.
Lee Mikles, CEO of the Archer Group, urged attendees to "say no to the Twitern," or cheap labor brought on to handle a company's social media interactions.
This resonated with me because I personally can't stand it when companies assume that social is free. I know they want it to be free in the same way that I'd like someone to trim my hair for free. Because darn if it's not expensive and it seems like it should be cheap. But I don't want someone who doesn't listen to me and know what they're doing to take on the job and the same holds true for companies and digital media. Just because someone "grew up online" and uses Foursquare to let the world know every time they enter a Starbucks does not mean they understand your business, your industry or your customers' preferences and problems.
Holly Potter, VP of PR for Kaiser Permanente, answered a question about hiring social media specialists by saying that she didn't find much value in "siloed expertise." Those who claim to be social media gurus almost invariably are not.
I agree that we're all learning and learning quickly and think good sense dictates that one not pretend to be thoroughly knowledgeable about something that's changing as quickly as social media. For a few years now, I've been a very interested observer as individuals or small agencies have pushed a focus on social and claimed that companies can ignore branded media. It's human to have a strong interest in the new thing, but it's shortsighted and shows a basic lack of understanding, however, when companies opt to focus on social alone.
I think the fascination with the new is giving way now and has shifted over the past year to a more balanced perspective. For some companies, it reflects a newfound understanding that digital isn't free and that social and branded media are so thoroughly intertwined that they can't be pulled apart and managed in isolation.
After panels on new social media tools and measuring ROI, I had to take a break to charge my BlackBerry. So I skipped the talk on how VW successfully launched a mobile gaming application. I kind of regret it in that I want to know as much as possible about this stuff, but I think I was also voting with my feet. I'm informed but not always impressed by successful PR campaigns that were accompanied by big budgets.
A thoughtful keynote at lunch by Sarah Evans of Sevans Strategy preceded a panel on identifying and engaging "the right" influencers. Then, on to the discussion that contained the most new info I absorbed all day--digital tactics and crisis communications.
Dallas Lawrence, managing director at Burson-Marsteller, made numerous good points, but one that really rose to the top of the pile was that it's too late for companies to get into social media when a crisis arises. (He said that crises can be brought about online by groups attacking your company or brand, by individuals who just don't like you or by external events.)
I suppose this is a bit like one of the basics of reputation management--if you work over time to develop a good reputation, you're better able to recover from crises. You may draw down your reservoir of good will, but at least you had something to draw upon and you're likely going to recover faster if people had a perception of you and it was positive. Perhaps they see the bad thing that happened as an aberration.
Mr. Lawrence noted that you can't adequately respond online if you aren't already part of online communities. Those communities may not be linked (e.g., people "following" you on Facebook aren't necessarily with you on Twitter), so it's not as if you can communicate through just one channel when things go wrong. You can't, for example, expect that if your company gets dragged through the mud in a video, you're going to be able to address the problem by communicating via a press release or corporate blog. You need to already be using the channels that your audiences choose to use in order to get through to them.
In all, I'm glad I stood up from my desk and attended the conference. What social media events have you found most informative lately?
Some of the brightest minds in public relations research and measurement today gathered for the first day of the Institute for Public Relations’ North American Summit on Measurement. They are here to share their best practices on research and measurement, and to discuss the future of PR measurement.
It was great to hear so many research professionals recommending the types of benchmarking that the Schwartz Research Group does as a matter of course our clients.
The summit began with @kdpaine and Dr. Don Stacks reviewing a number of core measurement best practices. Some of the things that jumped out at me were that:
• 66% of time if people say will do something, they will • PR campaigns that address and engage values can make a seismic shift when it comes to behavior • Research without proper analysis is just pretty charts • You must benchmark at the beginning of an engagement to identify if you met your campaign goals and objectives
While much of this was common sense, there were also very engaging discussions on the evolution of online surveys and best practices for increasing response rates and avoiding accidental bias; seven steps to measurement perfection; and new ways of measuring social media engagement.
To me, the highlight of the afternoon was the opportunity for us to speak with Dr. James and Larissa Grunig, two of the deans of PR measurement. I remember learning about Grunig’s two way symmetric communications model more than 20 years ago, and it is great to see how social media is causing the death of other models, and driving more companies to engage in true dialog (what Dr James Grunig has advocated for decades).
Grunig rightly pointed out many of the growing pain social media is going through, but is confident of its continued evolution and ability to drive deeper connections. He made a point that I have been evangelizing for a while – the core principles of good public relations have not been changed by social media. It has made symmetry, strategy, and engagement even more crucial.
One of the key themes that came across during the discussion was the role PR needs to play in corporate social responsibility and sustainability. While CSR has been a core element of public relations for quite a while, Grunig is seeing some of the largest companies internationally start to want to measure not just at the program level, but at the societal level.
Grunig opined that companies need to beware the CSR trap. CSR does not equal publicity for charitable giving. True corporate social responsibility projects align with the needs of the organization and will positively benefit all stakeholders. Some companies Grunig spoke with in Brazil are starting to consider both the environment and the next two generations of humans, animals and plants as stakeholders.
Overall, an excellent start to the summit. Tomorrow will look at global digital communications measurement, measuring influence and other topics.
Follow updates throughout the day at @mcclennan or #iprmeasure.
This morning a crack member of the Schwartz Research team (Bill Bode) brought the recent Mike Wise kerfuffle to my attention. Basically, Mike Wise, a reporter for the Washington Post, was suspended for one month because he made up a story about Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and tweeted it out. Some media outlets ran the story and some people retweeted it.
According to the Huffington Post, he claimed he did it to
See which news outlets would pick up his report, and
Show the inaccuracy of social media reporting.
Wise is missing one key thing. As a proven sports columnist for the Washington Post he has both authority and experience. For years, people have believed what Mike Wise wrote. People also put their trust in the Washington Post.
What he truly showed is how if a credible source wants to spread disinformation, they can have some success the first time, but will then destroy their reputation. This isn’t limited to social media. If an analyst put out a false report, people would use the data, until the analyst was exposed.
This problem goes back to well before the dawn of social media. Remember Janet Cooke (also of the Washington Post) who had her Pulitzer Prize winning story “Jimmy’s World” exposed as fabrication? This was also showcased on WKRP in Cincinnati with Bailey Quarters and Les Nessman in the “Dear Liar” episode in Season four.
If I tweeted about Ben Roethlisberger and cited an inside source I knew at the NFL, no one would retweet it. Why?
I am not a sports reporter or blogger, and
Schwartz has great experience with technology, healthcare and green companies, but our football experience deals primarily with luminescent paper for championship game tickets – not with NFL headquarters.
So yes, Wise showed things can spread on Twitter and some folks don’t check their sources. But he is in actuality a better poster child for how someone with respect and authority can abuse their power, be caught and damage their reputation.
My post last week that highlighted the most overused words in a press releases was very well received. Since so many of you liked it, I decided to take it a step further and turn the top 25 buzzwords into Buzzword Bingo cards. I didn’t want to slight anyone, so I created one card based on Sherk’s recent post, and the other card based on David Meerman Scott’s post from last year.
Here they are for your viewing and reading pleasure. May you never complete a bingo!
By Martin Gleissner and Anna Vaverka, Stockholm, Sweden
It is no longer a question of if but rather of how companies will extend their products, their brands and their messages to the digital universe.
One prime example of this is the National Hockey League (NHL), which continually develops digital products and services with which to shorten the distance between the League and its fans.
One of the major trends right now is that of iPhone Apps. What the NHL had already successfully accomplished on the web – delivering the best content, particularly video, to consumers online − it extended to one of the world’s most highly used mobile devices through NHL Ice Time 2010, the League’s official iPhone app. The app makes content from the web readily available on iPhones and is the latest product in NHL’s rapidly expanding digital portfolio, designed to meet the content demands of the most tech-savvy fans in pro sports fans.
NHL Ice Time 2010 gives time-shifted trans-Atlantic fans (NHL games are typically played in North America while Europeans are sleeping) the ability to see live scores and statistics, video clips and highlights.
For the launch of NHL Ice Time 2010, the NHL had a highly specific business goal: to drive downloads of the app among those countries already proven to be the top consumers of NHL hockey (based on NHL.com Web traffic), including Finland, the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
In order to launch NHL Ice Time 2010 in Europe, the NHL turned to Schwartz Communications. From our Stockholm office we rolled out an extensive media outreach in these European hockey hotbeds. Besides traditional media, we paid much attention to bloggers, especially covering sport and mobile technology.
Turning strategy into the message
Beyond the cool features of the app itself, Schwartz immediately identified and amplified the launch as indicative of how organizations can and must adjust to consumer demand for digital access. And the interest that we generated from media was strong in terms of volume and tone. To reach media outside of the sport and tech area, Schwartz uniquely tailored and told the story of the NHL’s efforts in leveraging digital media as a means of serving the evolving demands of fans, alongside the evolution of digital and mobile media.
The launch was highly successful and already in the first week, the app sailed into the top five most downloaded sports apps on iTunes in Europe. Additionally, the NHL experienced hundreds of thousands of downloads in just eight weeks and the end results included more than 70 media stories in more than 10 countries.
The NHL iPhone campaign is an excellent example of how companies and organizations should integrate emerging technology trends into their product development strategy marketing and communication strategy. Schwartz encourages others to embrace the diverse possibilities of digital media as the ways that we consume information are continually evolving.
We are not saying that each and every new media trend is worth investment. But to ensure that your company is at the forefront of communicating with consumers, one should evaluate which of the tools out there could be the right ones for you.
I remember a time when everything was a robust, scalable, enterprise-wide, mission-critical, client/server, WYSIWYG, CORBA development solution with OLE.
Well, maybe not quite that bad, but there are definitely words that have been overused when it comes to press releases. In some cases, these words have been so overused, their meaning is completely devalued to the point the eye skips over them.
Recently one my clients sent me a link to a great post from Adam Sherk on The Most Overused Buzzwords and Marketing Speak in Press Releases. He did some great analysis of words overused in press releases for the past year. His post also reminded me of a David Meerman Scottpost on the topic from last year.
The lists are useful, but different people learn in different ways.
I decided to take Sherk’s list and turn it into a word cloud of the most overused words in PR. I weighted everything based on the actual frequency of appearance. To me the word cloud really drives home how some words are so overused they lose their meaning completely, even more than a list of the words.
So without further ado, the word cloud of the most overused words in press releases.
I applauded the effort, but didn't blog about it at the time, because it just seemed like common sense and the way Schwartz has been conducting public relations on behalf of our clients for years. As the Schwartz Communications Research Group continues to grow, though, I did want take a minute to chime in.
Some of the principles have always been the essential foundation of what we do as an agency and as responsible practitioners.
Measure results not activity
Quantify business impact when you can
Social media should be measured
AVEs (ad value equivalencies) don't measure PR
I was a bit surprised by the ordering of some of the other Principles as I have found more clients focus on message delivery/inclusion and would put that above tone. Typically, I would want to segment by message and then tone rather than the reverse.
These principles are essential for showing the true impact of public relations. Many practitioners talk about wanting a seat at the table. At Schwartz I have found we get our seat at the table by providing strategic counsel; showing the business impact of PR; understanding business drivers and challenges; and presenting creative ideas that support the business objectives.
I was recently speaking with a young man heading off to college to study engineering. I reminded him there are two key things every engineer needs to remember:
1) F=ma 2) You can’t push on a rope
I wish PR had a formula as easy as F=ma for calculating impact. But then I realized engineers don’t either.
For them impact is calculated: P=(Fimpact2L/2AE)=(m2σ2gh/LAE)=(m2gh/LAρ)=mgh
Just like there is no one measurement formula for impact, there is no one solution for PR measurement. What measurement is right for your company depends on your business objectives. Align measurement at the start of every engagement and measure results and you are off to a good start.
Over the weekend, I finished reading Gallipoli by Alan Moorehead. It was an engrossing, powerful read. For those not familiar with Gallipoli, it was a major campaign in World War I involving the British, French, and ANZAC invading a Turkish peninsula. It is a defining moment in Turkish history. In total more than 130,000 people died and there were more than 500,000 casualties. It was also a campaign fraught with missed opportunities.
As I was reading it, I could not help but draw comparisons to some common public relations mistakes that are still being made today. While I know there are perils of adopting military campaigns to business, there are a few lessons that I thought would be good to share.
Don’t be blinded by the new way of doing things—New technology is great, but it rarely completely replaces proven systems. In the case of Gallipoli, some British Generals took the new lessons learned in France and made them the only way to do things, without adapting them to the local setting. They refused to advance without strong artillery (which they didn’t have) even though there were no trenches and few opposing forces. As a result, they gave the Turkish Army time to dig trenches and bring in more forces.
The same can be applied to communications. Social media is empowering. It is an essential component of great communications in the modern communications era. Without it, companies are missing great opportunities and their campaigns won’t be as powerful. But traditional media, influencers, mavens, messaging and listening still apply. Don’t be blinded and only pay attention to the shiny object, or you will miss opportunities. Make sure your communications campaign is designed for your specific needs, and not a cookie-cutter “Social Media Scenario #1.”
If you wait for every “i” to be dotted, you will lose – Careful planning and strategy is essential to any communications campaign (particularly consumer PR), but planning at the expense of decisive action is a recipe for failure. The same applies to communications. Careful research and strategy is essential. But there is always one more question that can be asked. There is the temptation to wait for the perfect opportunity (brand name customer reference, analyst data, etc.,) but those situations are few and far between. You need to find ways to communicate effectively without having everything you need.
Don’t be dissuaded by setbacks and changes– The British were dissuaded a number of times when they could have had decisive victory by a minor setback or something not going exactly to plan. We do not operate in a static world, and plans will change. As communications professionals, we need to adapt to those changes and continue forward. Don’t overreact to minor announcements from competitors or allow them to change your overall strategy. Focus on your goal and keep driving to it. You win by moving forward, not by retreating or moving laterally. The same applies to communications and public relations campaigns.
Trust your people – There were times in the invasion when the senior managers were well removed from the front and couldn’t react to a changing and fluid situation. Even more telling, the junior officers were trained not to move without command from superiors. As a result, there were numerous examples of when the British opened an unopposed new front, but did not advance, because the staff on the ground waited for orders. The opportunities were lost.
The same holds true in communications. Managers need to avoid becoming logjams. Trust your staff and encourage them to seize any opportunity they see. If you train them well, you will avoid the careless mistakes. But if every small decision must be centrally approved, you will miss many great opportunities.
Earlier this week, the Publicity Club of New England recognized the best public relations and social media campaigns and tactics of the past year. The Bell Ringer judges were senior practitioners from Chicago and Boston.
Schwartz is proud that we have continued the tradition of being recognized with more Bell Ringer Awards for work we have done with our clients than any other PR Agency in New England.
Most gratifying to us this year is that we won 10 Gold Bells for our clients, and that Schwartz was recognized for having the two best campaigns of the year, winning both Gold and Silver Bells, for its work in the business-to-business, healthcare and high-tech public relations categories.
When asked by many, how do we continue to win so many awards, we believe it is based on two key elements:
1) As a strategic communications firm, we understand that we don’t succeed by ourselves. Schwartz works closely with our clients to make sure our communications, content and public relations activities help them realize their business objectives. It is this close relationship, senior level involvement and comprehensive approach - including social media, content marketing and inbound marketing services - that help our programs succeed.
2) We don’t expect our clients (or Bell Ringer judges) to measure our work based on the “thud factor”, or in social media Thud 2.0. Our work, and our award entries, are judged on how we helped public relations close the loop with sales, patient recruitment or other business objectives.
For the 2010 Bell Ringer Awards, this ranged from driving qualified leads from trade articles to creating enough demand to crash one client’s servers. It included driving hundreds of patient inquiries to cutting consumer misperceptions in half. It is based on helping drive hundreds of thousands in product sales to opening new channels with key prospects.
We are proud of the work of our employees and our clients. If you have any questions about how we can help your company, let us know.
The classic 80s movie “When Harry Met Sally” follows two people through the years, originally stuck together for a Chicago-to-New York drive, then by chance bumping into each other and finally into love and a long relationship.
This is not unlike what we've seen happen with marketing and sales. Anyone with tenure in the business world knows that these two organizations need to be brilliantly in love and joined at the hip, moving together or else stumbling separately.
There was a time where a great “story” got ink and everyone was happy. Pump up the volume. But now, every good business is looking to connect the sales impact of initiatives, in marketing, public relations, everywhere. Many chief marketing officers are now experts in inbound lead generation, in addition to the traditional staple of brand, awareness and visibility. And the real magic is where they intersect, with one driving the other.
Today’s announcement of Schwartz's partnership with HubSpot is another great example of the transformational work we’ve been doing for years: tying storytelling to sales at all turns, and even rejecting stories that may seem to have cool headlines, but don’t move a needle on any measurable front.
Some of the most interesting work Schwartz is doing for its clients today is what we’ve dubbed “closed loop communications” --- being able to execute a strategy that loops directly into inbound marketing efforts. We’re creating content of interest, optimizing and pushing it out with professional and social media relations, search marketing and other services. That in turn is driving awareness, measured in web traffic and leads. Then we're reporting back on exactly what’s working, who’s looking and what’s prompting action in a client’s communities.
At Schwartz, we’ve nailed an outstanding strategy and process for doing this through many different types of approaches, tactics and tools, including inbound web marketing (leveraging HubSpot), digital video content (including some brilliant video marketing solutions from Visible Gains) and other strands. Whether you're in healthcare, technology, cleantech or consumer, we understand your business and the right mix of levers to pull, buttons to push, and people to influence to deliver tremendous impact.
The best meal on the menu is closed loop public relations. Order it.
We are story tellers at Schwartz Communications. For almost 20 years, our teams have translated complicated technical and medical concepts into messaging that resonates with strategic audiences.
Being a good story teller means that at your core you need to be a good writer. This is why, for as long as Schwartz has been in business, every employee candidate takes a writing test, sitting down at a desk specifically reserved for the task.
This test continues to be important today as content has become a core aspect of everything we do for our clients. Every company needs content to attract potential customers, partners and employees, and to establish a corporate image to existing customers, partners and employees.
We certainly have moved beyond just the writing test in terms of what we now look for in potential Schwartz staff members. Our employees now are creating YouTube videos, managing social media content, conducting interviews for podcast episodes and suggesting graphics to augment stories. And we teach them to optimize and promote what they create, so our clients receive SEO impact from our efforts.
While content remains king, the tactics and tools available to PR pros in recent years have expanded dramatically. With social media, the ease of creating digital content, and the changing, flattening nature of how people can find information via Internet-driven tools, PR and communications today have become larger, more influential parts of marketing than at any other time. We are also able to measure our effectiveness in ways that directly relate to our clients’ businesses and their strategic business objectives.
Many of Schwartz’s services are, in fact, transforming marketing, creating a direct connection between PR, marketing, lead generation and marketing measurement. Since Schwartz is a top five technology PR, healthcare PR and green PR firm, we have taken a leadership position in defining this connection for our clients and in offering marketing transformation services.
Today, we extended that leadership by announcing a partnership with HubSpot. HubSpot sells web-based tools that help companies create, optimize and promote content so those companies can easily be found online, tools that help convert those visitors into leads and customers, and tools that track who comes to their websites, which visitors become active leads and close into customers---and a whole host of other information.
In many ways, HubSpot’s inbound marketing platform complements Schwartz’s methodology and services. Many of our engagements have capitalized on HubSpot for some time. Schwartz teams use HubSpot to help create and promote optimized strategic content for clients. The analytical tools within HubSpot allow us to see directly how the content Schwartz creates and promotes generates leads and fills the top of the marketing lead funnel. By seeing how many leads the traffic generates, we can repeat tactics that generate significant results.
Inbound marketing and HubSpot software are not new to us, and we certainly are not talking about them for the first time based on today’s partnership announcement. But today’s news exemplifies how PR and communications can have an even closer relationship to marketing and sales---not to mention how PR for innovative companies has changed dramatically in recent years.
Schwartz has maintained its leadership position as a PR firm for innovative companies because it has stayed ahead of the curve in offering services that define how PR is changing. You can expect so see many posts about the topic in the weeks and months ahead.
In HubSpot, we have a partner providing solutions that contribute directly to how PR has changed and how we deliver services to our clients here at Schwartz.
At Schwartz we believe that the modern PR firm should be content-driven, strategic and able to measure its effectiveness. My co-worker Laura Kempke has authored a white paper that goes into more detail, and I invite you to download it. We are constantly evaluating products and services that can be managed by our clients’ account teams and can seamlessly enhance our clients programs. Over the past several months, we have added new measurement, lead-tracking and content marketing programs that are powered by HubSpot. Our clients and their Schwartz teams see the clear benefits of these marketing transformational approaches.
At the same time, we recognize that the HubSpot partnership is based on the premise that, at Schwartz, we are fundamentally still story tellers. What excites us are the new possibilities for telling those stories, identifying and connecting to strategic audiences, and measuring our work. We’re excited by the ways that PR, communications and marketing are all changing, and feel this partnership with HubSpot is a good indication of this transformation.
In the bad days of PR measurement, some PR professionals would try to impress clients (or bosses) with the ‘Thud factor’ how big and heavy a clip book could they drop on a desk. It was all about volume, circulation and hits. But as KD Paine says, HITS stands for “How Idiots Track Success.” This lead some to focus on quantity rather than quality and to some inflated circulation and reach figures that didn't tie back in to core business objectives.
At Schwartz, and at many other firms and organizations, we focus on measuring outcomes and results. Impact and Influence are core. What business impact did our PR programs have?
Yes, we use measures such as share of voice and key message penetration. We look at conversion, change in consumer perception, increase in Web traffic, increase in searches and other metrics. These are elements of good PR measurement that have a tie back to business results. Many of these have a direct correlation.
But now I am seeing the poor measurement of yesterday rearing its ugly head in the social media world of today.
I call it Thud 2.0.
Instead of ‘hits’ the new Thud factor is “How many followers/fans” do you have. The bigger the better. People are flexing their social media muscle and getting out the measuring tape.
Of course, they are measuring the wrong thing.
At the Social Media Club Boston meeting Thursday last night, EMC, Vico Software, IDG and other companies showed us how they are measuring the right thing. Most impressive was Holly Allison. She handles public relations and marketing for Vico Software ( a company that makes software for commercial construction). She was showing how her efforts worked throughout the sales funnel and how they translated directly into sales. Yet she seemed apologetic for having such small followers or visits. She is selling to a much smaller B2B universe. The business results were impressive, so it doesn’t matter how big the bicep is…
The SMC session was an interesting contrast to a talk by Paul Gillin with the Mass Technology Leadership Council the day before. He exposed how many B2B executives with whom he speaks are still just looking at the Thud factor when it comes to social media. (Aside from a few that are showing a direct tie to more effective recruiting).
I plan to be writing much more on measurement in the coming months, but I wanted to start it off with a simple call to action. Resist Thud 2.0.
Make sure your social media efforts are tied to business results. Don’t become obsessed with followers. Look at how engaged they are. Do they click through to your Web site? Respond to tweets? Praise you to others? Purchase products?
The goal of social media for business should not be trying to see if you can be the most popular kid in school.
Over the past couple of years, I've watched and wondered as many self-appointed social media gurus have worked to convince technology industry executives that they can market on the cheap, if not for free, using social media.
The idea is so appealing. Entrepreneurial companies are working with limited budgets, their marketing people are being asked to quantify ROI pretty quickly, and if the "I" is supposedly nothing and the "R" is greater than zero, they're in good shape, right? And let's be honest--social media is the newest thing and just sounds like more fun than the options.
What's becoming apparent is that using social media effectively requires a fair amount of knowledge about the industry at hand and more than a few minutes a day of time. In other words, the "I" can be substantial. The fact that many of the tools are free is great, but this doesn't obviate the fact that execs' time is, in fact, money and the people they might hire to use the tools charge for their time and expertise. And then there's the critical question of tangible returns and how they stack up versus returns from other marketing or customer support activities.
Late last week blogger Tony Faustino suggested, in "Successful Social Media Marketing Is Neither Free Nor Easy," that small business owners need to understand that there's not likely to be fast pay-off for using social media. Think several years, not a few months, he says. (I'd personally suggest that there's benefit to be had after several months of consistent use, but understand Mr. Faustino's point.)
"Last year, social-media adoption by businesses with fewer than 100 employees doubled to 24% from 12%, says a survey released in January of 2,000 U.S. entrepreneurs from the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business and Network Solutions LLC, a Web-services provider in Herndon, Va.
"Meanwhile, a separate survey of 500 U.S. small-business owners from the same sponsors found that just 22% made a profit last year from promoting their firms on social media, while 53% said they broke even. What's more, 19% said they actually lost money due to their social-media initiatives."
The article offers a few anecdotes of success and frustration. What I'd have liked it to suss out, however, is whether the companies that have met with some success with social media employed some strategy other than "interact with customers." I'd also be interested in learning how the small business owners are balancing social media with other forms of marketing and customer support. I assume social media isn't the only tool they're using.
At Schwartz, we generally advise companies that are starting to use social media that they need to work with it consistently for about six months before really starting to judge what it's doing for them. The next step is figuring out, based on early results, how much time and effort should go to social media compared to other customer outreach and support programs.
I suspect that the self-styled gurus are learning along with entrepreneurs and communicators that social media isn't free, that you can measure returns only if you defined a goal at the outset, and that those returns have to be stacked up against those of other marketing programs.
I recently came across a new survey from the folks at the Pew Internet and American Life Project. They asked Americans how they get their news. Most get it from multiple channels - no surprise there. The channel results surprised me though.
The top three sources:
78% of Americans say they get news from a local TV station.
73% say they get news from a national network such as CBS or cable TV station such as CNN or FoxNews.
61% say they get some kind of news online.
At Schwartz we are one of the many who understand the sea change of social media. But it is good to take a step back and remind ourselves that just because we may be living on blogs, Twitter and Foursquare; and just because we read about declining broadcast ratings; local and national television news still have great power to inform and educate. Communicators should not ignore these channels.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending the PR News Measurement Summit in Washington D.C. It was a gathering of a few hundred PR professionals interested in advancing PR measurement and sharing best practices for tying public relations to business results. The topics would be of interest to anyone in consumer, technology or cleantech public relations.
There were a half-dozen sessions, but there were a few themes that ran throughout them.
1) The Fallacy of AVE. Last year, the IPR and other professional PR organizations condemned ad value equivalency as a faulty measure of public relations success (and I cheered them on). It was a handy crutch in the past, but not something that measured the right results and did not have a good correlation to an organization's business results. I swear the room was never more energized than when people were criticizing this flawed metric that uses one industry's benchmarks to try to justify something completely different.
One of the presenters at the conference introduced a relatively new metric "Weighted Media Costs" I applaud the work the creators of this metric have done, but I still see it as AVE wearing a tuxedo. I have yet to be convinced otherwise. Anytime you use ad space cost, but remove the dollar signs so as to differentiate yourself from AVE, you are already starting down a very slippery slope.
2) Social media has permeated B2B, B2C and the government. Almost every presentation showcased how companies were engaging and measuring social media. From a personal point of view, it also validated the approach we take at Schwartz. The focus on tying PR to business results was used by all presenters- from the largest agencies to large multinationals. While there was some discussion of tactics and tools (Legistalker, Socialmention and Twiangulate seemed to be the most popular free tools) the focus was on getting meaningful measurement without breaking the bank.
3) Government and public affairs have embraced social media. While many of us know that at some level, and it was definitely proven in the latest Massachusetts Senate race, some of the metrics are telling:
64% of Congressional staff say “blogs are more useful than mainstream media for identifying future national political problems and debates.” (PR Week)
Congress has embraced multiple platforms:
96% have Facebook pages 79% have YouTube channels 41% have Twitter accounts
The key takeaway from the whole conference? One I have been championing for years. For public relations to continue to grow and be an essential element of an organization's business strategy, PR professionals need to relate their activities to business results.
eMarketer's got an informative post from Debra Aho Williamson this week, "Why Social Media Makes Sense for B2B Marketers." She presents some info on the different ways that B2B and B2C companies measure the success of social media programs. The top three for both are website traffic, brand awareness and engagement with prospects.
Here's where they diverge: B2Bs are more interested than B2Cs in using social media to generate a high volume of quality leads and, not so surprisingly, they're less likely to evaluate success by looking at a direct increase in revenue. I assume this is because every B2B marketer knows how difficult it normally is to draw a straight line from any single marketing activity to an actual sale.
To help generate those leads that B2Bs want to see, Williamson mentions a product from Optify. One that a number of technology PR clients at Schwartz have been using is from HubSpot. What's particularly interesting to me, as a PR person, is that HubSpot allows us to see which articles in the media (social or professional) drive traffic and, in turn, sales leads to clients' websites. That helps us fine tune technology PR programs over time.
Another current post I found valuable was from Chris Koch, who offered advice on "How to use social media for B2B." He talks about monitoring, engaging and managing. "Wait a minute," I thought when I read his post, "what about measuring?"
I had a hard time not seeing measurement on his list, so read back over his previous posts to see Koch had stated earlier that "[s]ocial media is notoriously difficult to measure and ROI is unclear. Therefore, social media should be used as a platform to drive traffic to the channels that are easier to measure and have proven ROI. There should also be a way to get customers and prospects from social media into systems for tracking and managing interactions (e.g., CRM)."
I agree with his first and third statements and am still thinking about the second. But clearly his observations and eMarketer's survey results are in line with each other: informed B2B marketers look to social media today for traffic and leads, but not--yet--ROI.
Measurement techniques and the necessary link between social media and CRM or marketing automation systems haven't kept pace with B2Bs' use of social media. Looking at increases in traffic and leads, though, it's natural to expect quantifiable returns to soon become clear.
It’s a good thing I am a morning person and registered early, as this line demonstrates. Many of the folks in the line missed the first sessions. (This is the line to get into the exhibit hall to register)
The first session at SxSW dealt with social media marketing, and while it covered many thing I already knew, there were a number of interesting insights to take from it. One of the points the speakers (Chris Winfield and Tony Adam) made is one I have been making for years – Web 1.0 (forums) still matter. The power of niche social media sites and networks can trump the power of Digg, Facebook and others. You eliminate much of the chaff and keep just the wheat.
Two key things I was reminded of in the session that I thought might be of interest to technology public relations pros:
When trying to find the most popular niche boards, http://rankings.big-boards.com/ is a good place to start.
Being engaged (without spamming) on Yahoo! Answers can also advance thought leadership campaigns.
The second session, with Brian Solis talking about the themes in his new book, Engage, was a great session packed with good advice. A lot of it was a positive reaffirmation of what many companies engaging in social media are already doing, but there were some new ways of thinking about things that he drove home. He seems to have taken the Tipping Point categories and expanded on them to identify the types of people that you tend to interact with on social networks, and how you can impact their hearts and minds. This has some intriguing implications and is with thinking about much more than most people do.
He also reinforced a point from the first session. The networks don’t matter, the channels will change, it’s the human network that we are all a part of that is truly driving and advancing the social media change and the impact it is having on business. Companies that enter the network in the right way can have a significant impact. Those that do not, may do OK, but will never excel.
He also drove home a point Schwartz’s president, Bryan Scanlon, has been making quite a bit recently - listening and talking aren’t enough. You need content to drive the discussion. Every company is now its own CNN, and they need to promote what they do, listen, and interact. They can’t rely on the media to give them pre-made programs (articles) anymore. There is much more to the channel than their ever was and technology, consumer, green, and healthcare PR pros need to pay attention.
Some other elements on which I will expound in more detail in later posts include:
Most social networks are matriarchies
The social compass is a good guide to developing a coherent and effective social media strategy
Social media engagement fails if there is not a human in some way associated with the brand
B2B Tech companies were the first to adopt social media with developer forums. There are benefits many B2B tech companies are overlooking.
Banks and other location based venues should look at foursquare. Now 1500 venues are giving rewards to their mayors and driving traffic and deeper relationships.
Check back tomorrow for more highlights from SxSW.
If you are reading this and at the conference, what were some of the best lessons you learned today?
This week's issue of PRWeek describes a holiday Twitter campaign that Schwartz designed and executed for Australian client RetailMeNot.com.
RetailMeNot is an online discount and coupon site. They're a current Schwartz client, but this article focuses on a push made around the 2009 holiday shopping season to reach RetailMeNot's target demographic of women between the ages of 18 and 39 with messages about new merchants, discounts and other offers to help drive website traffic.
Check out PRWeek for a description of Twitter tactics. The result was a 70 percent increase in referral traffic to RetailMeNot.com and continued strong traffic after the conclusion of this particular campaign. Pretty nice for a campaign that lasted just over a month.
Rumor has it they are going to be making some big announcement on Wendesday...Like many other tech executives and PR folks, I will be watching the news conference to find out that latest surprise from Steve Jobs.
It looks like some of the data leaked out inadvertantly due to a CNBC interview with a McGraw-Hill executive, as reported here by Erica Ogg of news.com
The buzz has really started to rise. I just did a quick audit of Twitter volume for Apple using trendistic,
As you can see, the volume of the discussion is on a hypergrowth trajectory. Currently more than half a percent of all tweets are about Apple. With more than 27 million tweets a day, that translates into more than 162,000 tweets today. It will be interesting to see what it looks like tomorrow. I feel confident in projecting four of the key hashtags will be #apple #tablet #jobs and #(insert new product name)
Update (1/27 2:45 p.m) I just ran the chart again, and Apple is dominating with 6% of overall Twitter share of voice. That translates into a run-rate of 1.6 million tweets today. Impressive. More interesing will be the tonality analysis.
This shows the power of social media, when combined with some traditional PR approaches.
Social media is an integral part of many companies' marketing programs today. Tech companies in particular no longer view social media as optional or an experiment; rather, it's a core element of their outreach to customers, partners, employees and other constituents. Naturally, companies are starting to think about how to measure social media's impact.
On Tuesday, February 2, Katie Delahaye Paine will speak at a Mass Technology Leadership Council breakfast seminar on measuring social media campaigns. The author of All You Need to Know About Measuring Social Media and the Complete How-To Guide to Measuring Social Media, Ms. Paine is widely known for her expertise in measuring PR, social media, media relations, public affairs, internal communications and blogs.
The February 2 event runs from 8:00-10:00 a.m. at the Foley Hoag Emerging Enterprise Center located at 1000 Winter Street in Waltham, Mass. Breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m. You can register here.
Schwartz is a sponsor of Mass TLC's social media group. We look forward to seeing you there.
Today the citizens of Massachusetts are electing a new Senator. The race has garnered national headlines, and those of us living in Massachusetts have been deluged with ads, calls and editorials for the past few weeks.
We are not taking a position on the election or either candidate, but wanted to answer a simple question - which candidate is using social media to create the most buzz? This question popped into my head when I noticed Scott Brown was trending on Twitter but Martha Coakley was not.
Looking at overall social media engagement, Scott Brown is creating about 46% greater discussion volume than Martha Coakley over the past week. Although it is interesting to note how the discussion spikes are eerily parallel. No one candidate has created discussion without the other.
When we narrow it to Twitter, Scott Brown and his supporters seem to be using the channel more effectively, with 182% greater volume than Martha Coakley.
I also looked at tonality (quickly) and although the tool was automated (and therefore suspect) both candidates were receiving about 28% positive coverage. Scott Brown was receiving 6% more negative coverage than Coakley.
How will this translate into success at the polls? We will find out tonight at 8:00 p.m.
Over the past week, we have had two of the biggest consumer shopping events of the past year - Black Friday and CyberMonday. The media buzz about each of these artificial shopping holidays has been enormous. That caused me to ask - who won the shopping PR war, Black Friday or Cyber Monday? (Note: Schwartz has some clients that capitalized on one or both of these shopping events).
While it seemed obvious to me that Black Friday would dominate traditional media (who can resist a live shot of the lines at 3 a.m., pushing and shoving?) - what would be the case in the social media world, where there was likely a bias towards online shopping?
Last night, I used Radian 6 to conduct a quick audit. The results were surprising. Black Friday crushed CyberMonday when it came to the amount of discussion in the social media world (blogs, Twitter, etc.). The chart below tells the story:
Overall social media coverage volumes for Black Friday were much greater than CyberMonday (and the spike around the actual day was much higher as well). Aggregating data, Black Friday has 84% of the overall share of voice, with CyberMonday securing 16% (482,000 to 95,000).
That is interesting and shows that Black Friday dominated the discussion. But how did it do with key message penetration?
When it comes to promoting deals and discounts, retailers were more effective overall with CyberMonday compared to Black Friday.
Overall, 45% of CyberMonday coverage highlighted deals or discounts, while just 31% of the coverage of Black Friday highlighted deals or discounts. Much of the rest of the coverage was around opening times, lines, etc.
The channels used to communicate the deals were interesting.
Fully one in four deals were communicated via Twitter. With 52% of Black Friday Deals and 64% of Cyber Monday deals communicated on blogs.
What conclusions can we take from this?
1) Both Cyber Monday and Black Friday are very successful when it comes to generating discussion in the social media space, although Black Friday coverage was overwhelmingly dominant.
2) Retailers do a relatively good job communicating deals around both events, although as a percentage, retailers do a better job around CyberMonday.
3) Traditional and social/online work well together in retail, just like they do in public relations.
Note: For my fellow measurement purists. Variant spellings of both BlackFriday and Cyber Monday were used to catch as much as possible.
Let me start out by saying there's no question that social media has a place in technology PR and any company should look to their tech PR agency for social media expertise. We advise all of our clients about social media. Depending on the audience they are trying to reach and the message they would like to promote, we incorporate appropriate social media tactics into our efforts.
A side project I have been working on is to determine how social media PR can stand on its own---What results can one expect from purely social media tactics?
One premise I can investigate fairly easily---but that is not immediately apparent in conversations I have with colleagues---is that social media is driven in a major way by coverage that is written by professional journalists. Consider the launch of Microsoft Windows 7. Not sure what day Microsoft actually made the announcement? One way to find out is to evaluate social media coverage of Microsoft over the past month.
I created the chart below using Radian6, a social media monitoring tool that Schwartz is now using quite regularly. The red line charts, on an ongoing basis, social media coverage of "Microsoft" and "7." Can you guess, based on this chart, when Microsoft issued the press release announcing Windows 7, and saw the corresponding wave of coverage about the new O/S?
The blue line represents social media coverage that included a link, meaning the coverage was inspired by something else that was written. I am making a big assumption that most of those links refer to media coverage. Don't worry, my research is just starting, and I plan to investigate this more thoroughly.
A few things strike me about this graph. The social media coverage that refers to something (presumably coverage by professional journalists) tracks nearly identical to the overall social media coverage for Microsoft. This would suggest a direct link between coverage by journalists and social media placements. Also, you will notice that there was no uptick in social media activity after the Windows 7 launch. Social media coverage continued to track to coverage by journalists. And, in fact, you will see that social media activity has recently significantly tailed off.
If social media is an animal to itself, why didn't social media coverage continue to rise after the news came out? Where's the viral effect?
Again, there's no question social media is important to tech PR. There are campaigns Schwartz has led where social media proved highly effective in creating visibility while contacting journalists proved futile. It depends on what a company is trying to promote and the audience they are trying to reach. At the same time, the process of contacting reporters and getting them to cover news is a fundamental element to any social media program.
Here at Schwartz, we've been talking quite a bit lately about measuring results of social media programs. Not just programs we've designed for clients, but those of people who we meet at conferences or with whom we're just chatting.
Without a doubt, many companies are thrilled with their involvement in social media. They love the outlet that participating in blogs or forums gives them, they're able to talk with people on Twitter whom they'd likely otherwise miss and they're connecting with patient communities on Facebook. (One client, Digium, gives us a tour of their use of social networking technologies here to gain "customer feedback, suggestions, highly qualified sales leads" and to talk with people in their industry.)
Some, though, are a little disappointed in social media. When I hear that, my first question is always "what did you hope to gain that you're not seeing?" I often wonder whether they're measuring success based on number of Twitter followers or Facebook fans--today's corporate version of a teenage popularity contest. This would be unfortunate because such metrics are nearly irrelevant for many B2B companies.
PR people need to keep in mind the Cheshire Cat's words of wisdom to Alice: "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." It's our job to help clients think through exactly what they're trying to achieve and to recommend use of social platforms because they make sense, not because they exist and are free.
Last week I attended a Mass Technology Leadership Council discussion on social media and lead generation. Mark Roberge, HubSpot's VP of sales, led the talk. Toward the end, he turned the group's attention to measuring social media ROI--certainly a topic of interest to a number of people today. (Some great reads are here, here and here.)
Mr. Roberge talked about website visitors and sales leads--reasonably straightforward things to quantify and important metrics for any B2B company. He also talked about "SEO assets" such as inbound links and improved performance in organic search results. Those things take time to build--perhaps a problem is that some companies look for an immediate impact in this department when it may be more reasonable to expect a change in six months' time.
Just guessing, but I bet some of the letdown that a few companies feel stems from their desire to get something for next to nothing--a measurable impact from use of free technology. Certainly using social technologies is free, but so is calling up The Wall Street Journal or "Good Morning America." Anyone can do it--the question in every case is whether you've got anything interesting to say and can articulate it in something like a compelling manner. In any case, it's your PR person's job to figure it out.
Altogether, these things are a great reminder to me that B2B companies using social media--and their PR people--need to be clear in setting objectives and in understanding the likely timeframe for success.
While some claim the summer months are a time when business slows down, anyone involved in retailing and consumer PR knows that it is when holiday planning swings into high-gear.
To help companies maximize their social media efforts (particularly around the holiday shopping season), the team at Schwartz Communications will be hosting a Webinar on July 22 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
The Webinar: "Groups, Handles and Widgets—Social Media Best Practices and Case Studies for Online Retailers," will explore how companies can leverage the latest online tools, measurement practices and social networks to maximize their communications impact.
Led by Mark W. McClennan, APR (BillMeLater, CheckFree) and Jason Morris (RetailMeNot, BeatMyPrice), vice presidents in Schwartz’s Consumer Practice Group, attendees will learn social media best practices and be presented with case studies of award-winning social media campaigns that drove business results.