PR Industry Conferences: Networking and Connecting

With the 2019 PRSA International Conference just around the corner, I have been thinking about all the Conferences (#PRSAICON) I’ve had the pleasure of attending over the past 15+ years. Professional Networking

At the same time, universities are now back in full-swing and PRSSA chapters are busy re-grouping, recruiting, fundraising and gearing up for their own International Conference (#PRSSAIC).
*Side note: As professional adviser to the PRSSA chapter at Southeast Missouri State University, I was the guest speaker at their first professional development event of the new school year, where I talked about how to leverage social media for personal branding and networking—and, of course, how important being an active member of PRSSA can help their future careers. (wink, wink)

All of this took me on a trip down memory lane—revisiting old photos, blog posts, and old handwritten notes. For the record, I wasn’t taking the ‘trip’ just for reminiscing’s sake (although it was definitely an enjoyable diversion!). I was trying to remember lessons learned that I could share with public relations and communications students.

Without a doubt, I can recall a handful of keynotes and quite a few breakout sessions stand out. However, I had to really force myself to concentrate and think about them.

What really jumped out in my memories were all the people I’ve met and the numerous new relationships that were formed, as well as old connections that were reinforced and strengthened over the years.

After the 2012 PRSAICON in San Francisco, I wrote that I “met nearly 20 people in real life that I previously had only known through social media.  As well as re-connected with a number of industry leaders that I only get to see that one time of year at Conference.” And from a business standpoint, it allows us (Burrelles) to solicit feedback on our services related to the PR pros’ business—to ensure we are offering what they need.

If I had to guess, that number (of IRL meetings from social media connections) has since quintupled. But it’s really not about numbers—quantity.  It’s about the quality.

You’ve heard the old adage, “It’s not what you, but who you know”? I’ve also heard “it’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you”. I wouldn’t completely disagree with either of those, but I tend to be more agreeable with Dr. Ivan Misner, the founder BNI (and referred to as the “Father of Modern Networking” by CNN) who has a different take. Dr. Misner stated,

“It is not what you know or who you know but how well you know each other that counts.” 

In an Entrepreneur op-ed, he went further saying, “It doesn’t really matter if I have an amazing database of people with many phone numbers. What really matters is how many of them will take my call if I pick up the phone and ask for a favor.”

When it comes to connecting on LinkedIn, a Harvard Business Review contributor (Alexandra Samuel), said the more people we connect with on LinkedIn, the less valuable it becomes. I’m not sure I completely agree but I understand and appreciate the viewpoint.

Keep in mind that article was written a few years ago and the trend since then has been to connect and connect some more. I’m now re-thinking that position and am considering a purge of sorts.

The bottom line is that the networking opportunities are there—IRL and in social media—even better, both!

But it takes effort. It doesn’t just happen. You should have a goal in mind and come prepared.

For example, prior to the conference, I will review the attendee roster for potential new connections (as well as old ones that will be there) and connect with others I know in the official event app on my phone. This makes it a bit easier to reach out and try to pre-arrange a brief meet-up. Or, to simply remind me to “be on the lookout” for that person.

In addition, I’ll send out a few tweets (and monitor Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) for others attending the conference to connect with. I try to balance strengthening some relationships, while ensuring I make new connections as well.

.*This post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on October 16, 2019, on the Burrelles Fresh Ideas blog at https://burrelles.com/pr-industry-conferences-networking-connecting/ and is cross-posted here with permission. 

How to Best Measure PR Campaigns—Because It’s No Longer Optional

In my last post, I shared information on the components that make up a PR campaign. Setting measurable objectives was just a passing mention but measurement deserves a full post.

Before we dive into the “how”, let’s be clear—a myriad of industry leaders agree that measurement is no longer an option for public relations professionals. It’s a must!

Why should I measure?

Gini Dietrich, who you may know as the developer of the PESO Model, has said on many occasions to get over your fear of numbers!

Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., APR, the President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) also an AMEC Academic Advisory Board member, has said we need to stop measuring just for the “purpose of proving our value” instead we “need to be more future-looking and purpose-driven… The time is now for the industry to embrace new technologies and methods.

Nicole Moreo, Ketchum SVP of Analytics and AMEC North American Chair has said, “Sometimes just putting out basic metrics can actually hurt your measurement program and not help management see the true ROI and efforts you are putting in.”

Alex Aiken, Executive Director for UK Government Communications, puts it tersely, “To not measure communications is lazy and shows a lack of pride in the work being done.”

If it’s not already clear enough why measurement (the right way) is so important, Wendy Marx, President of Marx Communications, summed up the numerous benefits of PR measurement on her blog:

  • Offers a better understanding of a PR campaign’s results
  • Shows the impact of your efforts across all your platforms
  • Allows you to compare the effectiveness of PR campaigns
  • Demonstrates investment value for your PR strategy
  • Allows PR professionals to prove their worth to an organization
  • Provides future direction

What you need

Let’s begin by recapping what you need in order to measure:

  • Understand your (or your client’s) key business objectives and how they align with your communications program.
  • Set SMART goals that align with your key business objectives. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. *Note that Johna Burke, AMEC Global Managing Director, says you should be SMARTERadding Ethical and Revolutionizing.
  • Comprehend strategies and tactics–understand the difference.
    • Strategy is the why: Why are you doing something?
    • Tactics are the how: How and what will do accomplish the goal, meet the objective and fulfill the strategy. How do they support your goals and objectives?
  • Assign KPIs (key performance indicators) that align with your strategies, tactics, and goals, which also align with your key business objectives.

Industry-leading measurement tools

In case you aren’t already aware, AMEC is the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication. It is the world’s largest media intelligence and insights professional organization, and currently has more than 160 members in 86 countries worldwide.

BurrellesLuce is an AMEC member, and as such, endorses the Barcelona Principles and the Integrated Evaluation Framework (IEF).

Measuring communications campaigns isn’t easy—there is no magic bullet. However, the AMEC framework provides you with explanations and examples of each step, making it easier to identify the areas where you need input from other members of management, other teams and your own team. It points out you’ll also need:

  • OutputsWhat you put out to your target audiences—these could be paid (advertising, sponsorships), earned (media volume and impressions), owned (web sites, partnerships, direct email), and shared (volume of social shares, posts, videos, etc.).
  • Outtakes: What the audience takes away from the outputs—what did they do after being exposed to your output? What action did they take—click through, subscribe, share, comment, etc.?
  • Outcomes: Impact of PR activity on the audience—was there a change in awareness, knowledge, attitude, opinion, behavior? What were your audience’s takeaways from your output?
  • Impact: Once this process is completed, you’ll have solid comprehensive data that you will then “use to tell the story of how the investment in PR and these communications activities all build to take consumers through the funnel and to your ultimate goal,” PR News Measurement Hall of Famer Marianne Eisenmann, explained during a past webinar that I reported on.

There are numerous resources available on the AMEC site, for example, a complete taxonomy of evaluation tailored to strategic public communication—in simple terms, it shows where things go and where they fit in relation to each other in the process.

As you go through your measurement journey, some key concepts to keep in mind are:

  • Embrace all data–even if it reveals poor results.
  • Use data as a tool for learning and course correcting.
  • Look beyond the numbers. Do not report data only!
  • Data without context is meaningless—tell the story using the data as support.

Where do I start?

And, finally, like many others, you may be unsure of where to begin with all of this. We highly recommend the AMEC Maturity Mapper (aka M3). This will help you understand where you currently are in your measurement and evaluation process (a benchmark) but will also help you map your next steps.

Now we would like to hear from you! Are you currently or planning to use analytics to measure your public relations efforts? How does this process compare to how you are doing it? Let us know in the comments.


*This post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on July 16, 2019, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog at https://burrellesluce.com/how-to-best-measure-pr-campaigns-because-its-no-longer-optional-2/  and is cross-posted here with permission. 

Strategic Planning: 4 Key Elements of a PR Campaign Plan

The PRSA St. Louis chapter recently held a PR Campaign Planning workshop, which I was fortunate enough to be able to attend. The event began with a brief recap of the typical organizational planning pyramid.

Business Strategy Pyramid

Good public relations plans are born from thorough research and planning. Nina Kult, APR, explained that it’s all too easy to jump directly into the tactics, skipping all the other steps. She covered some of the most common reasons we tend to do this. One is because we don’t have time or we get paid for results–not planning. Or the most common is that we luck into some early success leading us to think we don’t need a larger, comprehensive plan.

We have to remember that results don’t just happen. Success is almost always the result of lots of planning and hard work!

Planning sets the course for direction and keeps us on track. Arguably more importantly, it provides a way to achieve measurable results.

While the vision and mission are typically set by the organization, we need to know and understand what those are before we can begin planning the goals, followed by the objectives, strategies, and tactics of the campaign. We need to be able to connect our work back to supporting the mission.

  • Your goal is what you want to achieve, not how you’re going achieve it. It is the bigger, broader picture of your campaign or program, and should feed into and support the mission and overall vision of the organization. Goals are general, not specific and typically not measurable.
  • Objectives are the how to reach your goal and should be expressed in documented, measurable terms. They should be S.M.A.R.T. –Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
  • Strategies come next and are general approaches used to achieve your objectives. They should be actionable and show what you expect to accomplish. This is the “why” part of your plan.
  • Tactics are the specific ways you’ll use your resources to carry out the strategy and achieve your objectives. Tactics are the nuts and bolts. They are the activities that you and your team will use to support your strategy and are the most visible part of your plan—which may be why we tend to want to jump directly into the tactics.

Each tactic should answer what is the next step we need to take to achieve our strategy. These are the tangible activities such as sending a release, pitching key media, placing social media posts, creating a Twitter or Instagram hashtag, etc.

After the presentation, we broke into small groups and each group was presented with different real-life scenarios from past PRSA Silver Anvil Award entries and were asked to develop the goal, objective(s), strategies and tactics.

At the end, each group presented our plans and were critiqued by a panel of three of our chapter’s APRs who offered input—immediate feedback from the ‘cream of the crop’.

Regardless whether you’re just starting out in PR or have been doing it for years, a periodic refresher like this is a great exercise–to flex those strategic muscles in our brains!

Is this process similar to how you develop PR plans? What challenges have you faced? Are there things you’re doing differently or wish you could do differently? Please share your input!


*This post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on June 6, 2019, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog at https://burrellesluce.com/4-key-elements-of-a-pr-campaign-plan/  and is cross-posted here with permission. 

How To Improve Client Relationships with Phenomenal Onboarding

The term “onboarding” feels like it’s become a buzzword, with different meanings for different people in different industries. But whether you work at a service provider, a public relations agency, or integrated marketing firm, there really isn’t much difference when it comes to client onboarding. Heck, even accounting consultancies, financial advisors, and law firms do new client onboarding!

Sure, the actual steps will vary, but the overarching idea is the same. You may not even call it onboarding–it may be your ‘welcome process’ or something else. Whatever you call it, it is absolutely essential to set your client relationship on the right track.

Develop an Onboarding Process

Think about it.  Your business development or salesperson has worked their tail off to land this new account, but if the client onboarding isn’t handled properly, that business may be fleeting—and, that costs money. (Keeping existing customers is much less expensive than acquiring new ones.)

It’s called customer turnover or churn.

Hubspot defines customer churn as “…the percentage of customers that stopped using your company’s product or service during a certain time frame.”

In its simplest form, to create growth in any business, there must be more business coming in than going out.

Successful client onboarding increases customer retention and reduces “voluntary churn”, when clients up and leave you for someone else. And let’s face it, no one wants that (not in our professional nor personal life)!

People genuinely want to feel good about their decision to work with you and your firm.

The onboarding process offers an opportunity for you to demonstrate you understand (empathy goes a long way here!), and most importantly, prove your value from the get-go.

Where to Start

New client onboarding typically begins with a welcome and thank-you to the client for trusting you with their business.

Proactively reaching out to the new client and scheduling a time to have a thorough and open discussion is next.

You ask questions, and you LISTEN. Your questions may vary depending on your situation and the nature of the work, but one of the things I find beneficial is to ask why they chose you or how they see you helping them. This helps you quickly grasp what problem they needed to solve.

I’ll repeat it—listen and listen very carefully to the responses.

Often a client will tell you the steps they want to take, or what they do not want. It’s up to you to peel back the layers and understand their end goal.

Only then, are you able to demonstrate the path—or “means goal”— to get them there.

Marching to the Beat of the Same Drum

If you’re a small firm or solo consultant, you may already be privy to your client’s end goal. After all, you were probably involved in pitching and/or winning the business.

However, in a larger agency or service provider, that’s often not the case.

Regardless of whether you think you know or not, you should ask, verify, then reiterate it back to them. Be absolutely certain everyone is marching to the same drum.

Don’t Let Issues Linger

Should anything come up that’s unexpected, or requires corrective action, you should handle this immediately, and communicate back to the client when it’s completed.

Essentially, this first new client-partner or agency-client exchange ought to be a positive one.

This is what many call making the client relationship “sticky”.

To some companies, onboarding a new client is a continuation of the sales process—finding your client’s pain points, and demonstrating how you will relieve that pain, and make their lives easier. In other organizations, it’s the beginning of the client success journey.

In my case working for BurrellesLuce, a media monitoring service provider, onboarding is a bridge from sales to client services.

After all the sale details have been re-confirmed, I ensure they received their login credentials, and schedule a training/education session with them, so they’re confident in using the web portal and tools available to pull the data and analytics they need.

Also, I make sure they know who and how to get additional help or extra training, if needed. Sometimes that even means counseling clients on best practices in media relations—they aren’t all PR pros.

Once I’m confident they have no other initial issues or concerns, then I do the hand-off to their dedicated client services manager.

The Bottom Line

Client onboarding is about setting a standard level of expectations and understanding.

Your client should feel confident they’ve made the best choice for them, and that you’re in their corner. I believe this is the most critical aspect of onboarding a new client. No “buyer’s remorse” here!

From a personal standpoint, you should know that I am a highly sensitive person (HSP). Yes, that’s a real thing. In short, it means not only do I physically feel empathy but also process things deeply and am able to pick up on subtleties that others often miss.

Trust me. This can be both a blessing and a curse in a client-facing role.

It’s a curse, in that I can truly feel their pain and frustration, especially when they’re talking about past experiences (with other services, of course). 😉

I have to be very careful that I don’t absorb that as baggage and carry it with me—which is easier said than done. Sometimes I’m unsuccessful, I’ll admit.

It’s a blessing because I can rapidly pick up on their voice inflection, temperament, and communication style–even over the phone and often even in email.

This trait helps me hone in on what others are really saying and what they need to hear. Plus, it allows me to reassure them that I understand. It makes it second-nature for me to mirror behaviors and adjust my responses in real time.

And, this is exactly what makes me pretty darn good at my job! 😊

Happy Clients Equal Referrals

Regardless of your specific scenario, once onboarding has been completed, the real work begins to continue to earn that business—and retain it.

Happy clients are more apt to stay with you and to recommend you to their network.

A frequently quoted statistic to note from a 2012 Gartner Group survey states that as much as 80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers.

Word-of-mouth referrals and client testimonials are powerful—especially in the PR and marketing world.

Does your organization have a dedicated onboarding specialist? Do you follow a different process? I want to hear from you!

 

*A version of this post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on April 11, 2019 on the Spin Sucks blog at https://spinsucks.com/marketing/client-onboarding-essential and is cross-posted here with permission. 

9 Things Every Public Relations Student Should Be Doing Over Summer Break

pr-jobs-summer-homework

Those who were seniors this past year are now graduated and moved on, leaving room for the next class of future PR professionals to fill their shoes—to take next steps on the path of their PR student career.

But you’re still a student, so what should YOU be doing during summer break? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Set short-term goals. For example, attend at least one professional industry networking event over the summer. And, read industry blogs and/or articles and comment on at least one each week.
  • Set long-term goals, write them down and number them in order of importance. For example, attend at least one industry professional networking event per semester. And/or get involved with on-campus pre-professional organization (such as PRSSA or AMA).
  • Work on your portfolio. Gather writing samples–or create some by volunteering to write a guest blog post, or better yet, start your own blog. Be sure to include any public relations or marketing plans you’ve created, press releases, anything written in AP Style, research papers, newspaper clippings, presentations, creative design samples, reference letters, special certifications, etc. If you haven’t yet created an online portfolio, do so. The earlier you begin, the more prepared you will be come graduation time. NOTE: If you are including any work that was done as part of a group, be sure to notate this and identify which part you actually did.
  • Develop your elevator pitch. You should have a 15-second blurb that is memorable and opens a window to your personality, your passions and your mindset. Not a laundry list of skills but rather what you can offer to a potential employer–why would someone want to hire you? Practice OUT LOUD. Use your phone to video yourself so you can play it back, listen, observe, and make improvements.
  • Clean-up and hone your online presence—including your social media accounts. Check your privacy settings (and check them again). Google yourself  (be sure to ‘hide private results’ by clicking Settings)–and don’t forget Yahoo and Bing (yes, some people actually use Bing). If the first page results do not represent who you are, immediately begin digital damage control. This is even more important if you have a common name and can easily be confused with a dubious doppelgänger. Seek out and follow industry leaders so you can network and learn from the professionals, not just fellow students.
    –   Not sure what “digital damage control” is? Here are some tips from Forbes.
    –   Don’t think employers are using the Web and social media to research job candidates? Read these recent stats from Career Builder.
  • Participate in industry-related Twitter chats and take advantage of free webinars or Facebook Live professional events–especially explore topics that are not covered in the classroom or an area of specialty you’re considering.
  • PR professionals are, in themselves, “brands”—it’s a very competitive industry. Your business cards, resume, online portfolios, etc. should present a cohesive message. Work on ensuring that all these match your “brand.” Your reputation is one of your biggest assets.
  • Research agencies, organization, companies that you would like to intern with or work for.  Reach out to them and request an informational interview. Face-to-face is best, of course, but live video chat works, too. Ask what (coursework, degrees, activities, skill sets) they are looking for when hiring. Ask, given identical academic backgrounds, what makes some candidates standout above the rest–and what makes some of them instantly get weeded out.
  • Volunteer at a local non-profit and offer to help with public relations, marketing, social media, blog content creation, special events. This is experience—it all counts!

If you are a student or recent graduate, what have you done (or are doing) to progress your career? If you are a PR professional, what else would you advise students (or young PR pros) to be doing in preparation for their career?

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A version of this post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on June 3, 2013, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog at http://www.burrellesluce.com/freshideas/2013/06/what-public-relations-students-should-do-during-summer-break  and is cross-posted here with permission.

Copyright: Understanding Fair Use

While this AMEC North America Measurement Week webinar was the first of the series, it will be my final recap post. I saved the best for last!

International AMEC board member, and License League COO Dan Schaible led this #AMECMM webinar to help us understand the complexities that surround copyright in the digital world we live in today.Copyright Fair Use

Dan began with referencing a portion of United State Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Congress shall have the power… “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries”. This is what sets up what copyright is, however in that statement is an inherent conflict, Dan commented.

We are all pretty familiar with the concept of Title 17, Subsection 106 of the United States code. This is the part that grants the owner of the copyrighted work the exclusive rights to do and authorize reproductions, copies, derivatives, etc.  However, it’s Subsection 107 that tends to create confusion—the limitations on exclusive rights—fair use. There are four specific factors, that work together, which must be considered to determine fair use.

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

I can relate if you’re thinking, “I’m not a lawyer, how am I supposed to be expected to interpret this?” Legal-ese makes my head spin, but the way Dan explains it, with the examples he uses, helps it all to make a little more sense so I highly recommend you check out this short (under 30 minutes) webinar replay.

He focuses on the two points that we, as PR professionals, are most likely to be affected by. In addition, he references two specific copyright-specific court rulings on recent media monitoring cases. (Side note: BurrellesLuce has a copyright compliant article program and agreements with most major publishers as well as individual titles.)

  • Purpose and character of use. Dan says the real defining question is: is the content used in a different manner or for a different purpose from that which was originally copyrighted? He read a portion of a 1990 legal article, written by two judges, dealing with whether the use is “transformative” (which is a valid defense). There is a lot of gray area here and it’s no wonder there’s so much confusion surrounding fair use! Dan claims that fair use is part of the law but some claim it’s only lawful in that it offers a defense to the end user should the use be challenged by the copyright holder.
  • Effect of the use upon the potential market or value. This is a little easier to understand. Dan says the defining question here is: what is the effect of the use on the copyright owner’s ability to exploit the value of their original work.  In other words, is how you’re using it taking potential money out of the owner’s pocket?

Dan cautions that fair use is based on market conditions—as the market changes, so may the judicial rulings.

Webinar moderator, Johna Burke, who’s also AMEC North American Co-Chair and BurrellesLuce CMO, wrapped up with questions to Dan from the participants. He finished-up with some straight-talk about why you need to know these things, the most compelling of which was “so you don’t get sued” (but he had a lot other great answers as well).

I’ve enjoyed learning more about measurement (and copyright) the past couple weeks and hope you have too!

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.*This post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on October 5, 2016, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog at http://www.burrellesluce.com/freshideas/2016/10/copyright-understanding-fair-use/ and is cross-posted here with permission. 

Integrated Approach to PR Measurement

PR News Measurement Hall of Famer, Marianne Eisenmann, recently led a #AMECMM webinar to discuss how the emphasis on multi-channel marketing has blurred the lines between paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) information sources. As we know, consumers now engage with companies or brands in many different ways—across multiple platforms and channels. As a result, measuring requires a more integrated approach, such as the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework, to appreciate the impact of all marketing efforts.

Marianne pointed out that your clients (internal or external) now care less about the source and more about the content and messages. She demonstrated how those messages can begin as earned media but then may be repurposed and moved through owned, shared and/or paid to boost engagement and awareness.

amec-framework

Marianne focused on updating your measurement model by utilizing the recently launched interactive (free) AMEC framework’s seven steps, but more specifically, what she calls the core elements of integrated measurement: Outputs, Outtakes, Outcomes.

Outputs

What you put out to your target audiences—these could be paid (advertising, sponsorships), earned (media volume and impressions), owned (web sites, partnerships, direct email), and shared (volume of social shares, posts, videos, etc.).

Outtakes

What the audience takes away from the outputs—what did they do after being exposed to your output? What action did they take—click through, subscribe, share, comment, etc.?

Outcomes

Impact of PR activity on the audience—was there a change in awareness, knowledge, attitude, opinion, behavior? What were your audience’s takeaways from your output?

After providing examples and scenarios of the three steps above, Marianne showed us a format she’s used (based on the same concept as the “sales funnel”) to demonstrate how the audience moved from the awareness and knowledge phase on to actual consideration, engagement or action.  NOTE that if you missed the live webinar, it is now available on-demand.

Once this process is completed, you’ll have solid comprehensive data that you will then “use to tell the story of how the investment in PR and these communications activities all build to take consumers through the funnel and to your ultimate goal,” Marianne explained.

As moderator, Johna Burke, AMEC North American Co-Chair and BurrellesLuce CMO, closed the webinar with a few specific questions from participants which Marianne readily answered. They both agreed, in the final comments, that the one thing we cannot do is continue to measure the old way (multiplied impressions, AVEs, etc.).

 

.*This post by Tressa Robbins originally appeared on October 3, 2016, on the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog at http://www.burrellesluce.com/freshideas/2016/10/integrated-approach-to-pr-measurement/ and is cross-posted here with permission.