P.R.ove Yourself Webinar Wrap-Up: Angela Answers Your Questions
Were you one of the 1000+PR pros who attended our P.R.ove Yourself webinar with Angelia Jeffrey last week? If so, thanks for joining us! If not, don’t worry: you can now view the webinar on-demand to learn Angela’s easy eight-step process for measuring your PR results to get proper recognition for your campaigns.
A highlight of the on-demand webinar is the insightful Q&A session on Angela’s eight steps – and because we didn’t have time to answer all of the questions you asked, here’s Angela with the answers to your remaining queries.
Q. What would you say are the key metrics in determining website use? New visits? Conversions? I know it depends on what you are trying to achieve with your site. Mine is membership to my writings.
You’re right, the only metrics that matter for website use absolutely depend on what you are trying to achieve. In your case, your goal of increasing membership is clear, so take a look at metrics like % increase in membership conversion rates; % increase in click-throughs to key writings; % increase in the number of comments to posts; and % increase in Recency rates (how long has it been since members visited your site?). There are many more, of course, but this should be a good start.
Q: Most execs at my company think Twitter is not a serious channel and not worth our time. Is Twitter effective at all?
A. Great question! A new study by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth reports some leveling off in 2011 in the use of blogging, Twitter and Facebook among the nation’s largest companies. Among the Fortune 500, only 62% officially use Twitter. Having said that, stories abound on how Twitter has been directly responsible for tremendous results. In my own experience, a few Tweets from my friends in the measurement world created a gigantic surge of visits to my website! Whether or not it is worth your time depends on you defining a clear goal for Twitter activity, and then tracking results through KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) such as # of Followers; # of Retweets; Retweet Velocity; Retweet Efficiency (# of retweets per 100 or 1000 followers); # of @Replies, and so on. Then, link those results with what’s happening on your website to see if traffic and interest is increasing. If not, drop it!
Q: We are about 100 days from our biggest fund-and awareness-raiser of the year. Feel so behind. Any guidance on how to get through all these steps in a tight timeframe with limited resources?
A. Yes. For the moment, work quickly through the first five or six parts of the Eight Step program and identify your goals and some key stakeholder groups, and then set a limited number of very specific objectives and KPIs. At a minimum, define a few key metrics for Intermediary and Target-Audience Effects. Get through your program, and you may be able to use Pearson Correlations to link some of your outreach efforts to funds raised and event attendance. After the event is over, take a deep breath and then dig deeper into Social Graphing and creating your ongoing measurement program.
Q: What happens if the correlation returns a negative number?
A. When a correlation returns a negative number, and if it is at least an r= -.7 out of a possible score of r=1.0, it means that instead of two variables moving in the same direction, one is moving up while the other is moving down. So, for instance, if negative media coverage correlates with sales dropping, if the score was at least -.7, you can assume there is a strong negative correlation between the two. It doesn’t ‘prove’ that one caused the other, but clearly, something is going on!
Q: What do you consider some of the best metrics to look at when calculating the success of a press release?
A. I know many news dashboards today provide click-through and download rates for journalists, which is a nice “Intermediary Results” place to start. But it is pretty difficult to measure the outcome of a single press release. You can certainly include a specific URL website landing page that is only available in stories and posts resulting from your release. Then, watch the number of visits to that page, and whether those visitors go on to further interaction on the site, or move through to an e-commerce sales funnel. Southwest Airlines has had all kinds of success with this approach.
Q: How valid is the approach of measuring against business outcomes for B2B companies with very long sales cycles?
A. Entirely valid. In fact, the Eight Step Program is probably much easier for B2B companies with a more finite number of prospects and stakeholders. In my experience, I have seen correlations for B2Bs in the high nineties for between “share of voice” and sales, sales-closing ratios and numbers of leads. The key is offsetting your media coverage score (or share of voice percentage) to a time period ahead of outcome results in the Pearson Correlations Excel Worksheet. For instance, if your normal sales cycle is six months, place your media scores six months ahead of your outcome result. You may have to play with this a little, but we’ve seen results for companies with very long sales cycles.
Q: Can you discuss ways to measure behavioral change in a non-commercial setting (e.g. measuring the efficacy of nonprofit or government communications campaigns)?
A. Behavioral change for nonprofit and government communications campaigns will include many of the metrics included in my white paper, such as “Owned Site” analytics and target audience surveys. Avinash Kaushik, the Web analytics guru, would encourage you to look at metrics like Visitor Loyalty, Visitor Recency, Length of Visit, Depth of Visit, New Versus Repeat Visitors, and Conversion Rates to specific non-ecommerce URLS. Of course, nonprofit outcomes are easy to measure in numbers of memberships, increases in donations, attendance at fundraisers, etc. For government campaigns, I’m going to punt to Beth’s Blog (by Beth Kantar of Zoetica) who specializes in all things nonprofit.
Q: An early criticism of Social Media is that it is very hard to determine the ROI. It appears this is a walk through to do just that! True?
A. Thank you and I hope this is a good start! A true ROI is really a financial goal that doesn’t entirely apply to PR. The Institute for Public Relations Commission on PR Measurement & Evaluation and AMEC are two groups that are working on really defining ROI for our field. However, the process I’ve shared, which has been compiled from many of the best thinkers in the field, is valid for providing a strong link between social media and business outcomes that can be converted into ROI once cost figures are collected.
Q: What is the difference between this and hiring an SEO firm?
A. An SEO firm is a great resource for setting up your website with the right keywords, and then providing analytics to measure those results. However, measuring SEO is just one of the options included in the Eight Steps Measurement Program. The latter requires much more discipline in defining specific program goals and objectives, selecting a variety of KPI tools across many types of media and then linking the results back to business outcomes.
Q: How can you compare one year (with measurement) to the previous year (without measurement) without going back to the previous year and applying your measurement retroactively?
A. The bad news is that you really can’t. You do have to apply your measurement methodologies retroactively if you want a comparison. Fortunately, there are a lot of PR measurement tools today, such as the VOCUS platform, that can provide retrospective online and broadcast coverage, and SOME social media content, so you can apply metrics to those outputs. However, it also may make the most sense to just go forward from where you are today.
Q: What sort of scale/budget would merit deploying these kinds of resources/time? Local/regional/national efforts?
A. It absolutely depends on your goals (sorry, I know I’m sounding like a broken record). If yours is a locally-focused firm, then going through all the steps is just as important as it would be for a nationally-focused firm. However, a nationally-focused firm would never go through all the steps for every local campaign. The most time-consuming part is the Stakeholder Research and Social Graphing, which can take six-weeks in man-hours. Many of the other processes and KPIs, once defined, can be programmed into place and eventually run themselves. The process can be as simple or as complex as befits your organization, and my white paper will give you many, many choices.
Q: Is it better to focus limited resources on one/two forms of social media or being there in a lot of types of media but with less time to invest in each one?
A. Personally, I believe it is far better to focus limited resources on just a couple social media channels. And this is exactly why it is so critical to figure out which channels your stakeholders use most!
Q: How do you measure impressions from online media placements?
A. This is a sticky wicket indeed! Well, you choose a data provider such as Neilsen NetRatings, comScore, Alexa, Quantcast or Compete, to name a few, some of which are expensive, and some of which are free. Most of the PR measurement vendors also provide some form of impressions data. But here’s the rub: they are all supplying Monthly Unique Visitors for the Main Page or Domain Home Page. Think about that for a minute. Do you really believe your story was viewed every day for a month by everyone who went to that site’s Home Page? The inflation makes the numbers unintelligible, and clients/management rightfully doubt them. The product my family originally created, PRtrak, used to provide Daily Average Visits, with an algorithm that further reduced the numbers based on site type. BurrellesLuce just acquired PRtrak, so be watching to see if it comes back soon online! (Note: VOCUS also used to supply PRtrak data).
Q: When looking at outcomes, how do you separate those that have come from PR than from other marketing efforts if an integrated campaign is being implemented?
A. Outstanding question! The real answer here is you may not be able to unless your company has a sophisticated Marketing Mix Model. Other than that, the best way is to use unique URLs for each of your PR campaign tactics, so that Owned Site (Website, Twitter, and Facebook) visitor behavior can be tracked back to your efforts.
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