Setting blogger outreach objectives Photo credit: view7 / photocase.com

“So my Public Relations account director, tell me the value of that?”

Does this question make you squirm in your seat or leap up with joy? I think I know the answer!

Where’s the value? What worked and what didn’t work? Why should I pay you that monthly retainer? Can you justify your fees?

Perhaps not often asked as directly as this, but similar questions are increasingly being asked as budgets are squeezed and clients look for greater accountability to maximise value from their resource allocations.

So why is value in PR such an issue?

To a large extent the public relations industry still suffers from an historic debilitating condition where measurement and value are simply too far down the agenda.

This is in part down to a reliance on a traditional industry standard, the Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE). For some time now this has been recognised as flawed and has been widely discredited. I think it is also in part down to the nature of the beast – PR people are good with words – they like to tell stories, be creative and paint pictures with words; they are not inherently good with numbers or analytics.

And yet as long ago as 1999, the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) set out “Guidelines for Setting Measurable Public Relations Objectives”. It starts by stating:

Measurable objectives in public relations do two things:

1 They facilitate and support business objectives, thus demonstrating that PR activities support the business or performance goals and are thereby ‘strategic’; and

2 They enable PR practitioners to show they have achieved what they set out to achieve, and thereby demonstrate accountability

All eminently sensible, but it seems that the industry took little notice. Without an easy standard to jump onto and with old ways prevailing, little changed.

But the world has now changed

Old-school attitudes that prevailed in the last century are now out-dated as the dramatic changes in the way the world communicates transform the industry – and not just in terms of measurement. PR agencies must grapple with how to effectively change their business models to accommodate the digital consumer and the rise of social media.

In a wider context Brian Solis calls it “Digital Darwinism” – “adapt or die!”. This week’s ICCO (“The International Communications Consultancy Organisation”) Summit has borrowed from this by boldly calling their event Change or Perish: The Future of PR”.

For a more in depth look at the history of PR measurement and current developments, this presentation will point you in the right direction:

The impact on measurement of the digitisation and disintermediation of communications is considerable. On the plus side, a digital world enables much greater transparency via analytics and data mining. On the down side, it brings with it the potential for enormous complexity and in a world where time is one of the scarcest resources, complexity is a killer.

We all crave simplicity

A number of the industry bodies have picked up the baton and joined forces to help define industry standards for measurement. Having been party to some of these discussions, I commend those involved for leading the profession in this area. However, the material problem that is largely unresolved is the application of these standards.

There are a vast array of analytics solution providers out there, but the majority require a considerable amount of investment of time and money just to understand them, never mind working with them to derive value. Complex dashboards filled with a variety of metrics mined from the big data in real time – starting to squirm in your seat again?

But it doesn’t have to be like this. I am a strong advocate of simple, actionable measurement, focussing on the small number of important variables that really matter. I recognise that PR has a much broader remit than just digital outreach and that there are often qualitative longer-term benefits that should be considered, but how about this for a simple starting point:

Visibility: how many people might have seen your story?

Engagement: how many people actually engaged with your story (via social media)?

Links: how many new links to your landing page were created?

Traffic: how many new visitors to your website were there?

Would presenting this type of simple data to a client not be more compelling than a list of mentions or a spurious AVE number?

Google analytics is your friend to help you here and if you’ve got this far, you are nearly at the point where you can measure right through to what really matters – business outcomes: sales and the impact on the bottom line.

It’s possible to collate this data from a variety of sources across the internet, but Inkybee can do it all for you as this one minute snapshot demonstrates.

Using analytics to get beyond monitoring and tracking may seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Ultimately, simplicity is key. How do you do it?

NOTE: A version of this post was originally published by Elena Verlee on her public relations blog, “PR in your Pajamas: Practical Publicity for Entrepreneurs”.

The Best Practice Guide for Blogger Outreach

Download the definitive 39-page guide to reaching out to bloggers. It's free and packed full of best principles, tips, tools and resources.

Download!

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50-list-shorterToday we published a list of  “the Best 60 PR Blogs” on the planet.

As you will see if you read our methodology, we’re not actually saying that these are the best blogs, but they are some of the best blogs based on how we’ve gone about assembling the list.

Ultimately the exercise is a bit of fun and a demonstration of the potential of Inkybee. We do recognise that it can be challenged in many ways:

There are many more blogs out there that are highly relevant to public relations; they just may not use the keywords and phrases that we have based our analysis on, or they may deal with broader subjects such as social media and marketing. The lesson there being that if you are looking for a broad range of blogs, you need to use a broad range of keywords to look for them.

The algorithms that rank the blogs are ultimately driven by human decisions. Tweaking the algorithms changes the ranking and we appreciate that there is an opaqueness to exactly how the different variables are calculated. This is partly because we don’t want to give away our ‘secret sauce’ but also because some web based data is simply not definitive. For instance, the measure of “audience visibility” can never be exact without knowledge of the exact traffic logs from the blogs themselves.

We are members of AMEC and will strive to contribute to their mission to define and standardise the measurement of web-based comms. Hopefully, one day soon we can publish metrics in these Lists that are defined and standardised.

In the meantime, enjoy the List for what it is and let us know what you think below.

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Blogger Outreach: For PR pro’s, marketers and SEO pro’s

by Hugh Anderson June 26, 2013 Blogger Outreach

In the evolving digital world, one key theme is apparent: CONVERGENCE Convergence of communication in reaching target audiences across owned, social, paid and earned platforms (as Gini Dietrich recently defined). Convergence of approach across different disciplines: marketing, public relations and SEO in particular. Much of this is driven by Google with their ongoing Panda and […]

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Blogger Outreach for PR Pro’s

by Hugh Anderson May 7, 2013 Blogger Outreach

A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune to be able to present on the subject of “blogger outreach” to an audience of public relations professionals at an event organised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). It was a knowledgeable audience and the overwhelming impression I got was that I was […]

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Whither blogger outreach?

by David Cumings February 7, 2013 Blogger Outreach

Let’s face it, the term certainly has it’s issues. For those outside PR it probably sounds like somebody being a bit sick on their shoes whilst within PR there are all those connotations of spam and bad practice. But putting all that aside for one moment, it’s clear that blogger outreach is in some form […]

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Public Relations Measurement: where’s it going?

by Hugh Anderson October 31, 2012 Digital PR

The PR profession has taken a fair amount of flak in recent years for failing to measure its activities properly. Much of this is due to a lack of progress beyond that most resilient of measurement units, the Advertising Value Equivalent, or AVE. In the summer, a couple of industry heavyweights, Mark Westaby and Philip […]

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Online Influence – social media revelations in South Wales

by Hugh Anderson September 25, 2012 Content Marketing

Last week I attended #oiconf – the Online Influence conference. It promised to deliver “social media content strategies to drive your business” and boy did it deliver. Oi!2012 was the brainchild of Tony Dowling, a professional marketer who, as well as driving the sales and marketing for his radio station and writing an active blog, […]

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Setting objectives for blogger outreach

by David Cumings August 10, 2012 Blogger Outreach

This follows on from our previous post about the background to objectives and measurement. We’ll keep it very simple for the moment, but there are two parts to the process of setting objectives in the digital space. 1. Setting business objectives 2. Setting campaign objectives You need to consider both of these in order to […]

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“Begin with the end in mind”: an introduction to objectives and measurement in PR

by Hugh Anderson August 7, 2012 Blogger Outreach

Later this week we will commence our series of posts on blogger outreach to delve deeper into some of the key subjects outlined in our recent ebook, “The Best Practice Guide for Effective Blogger Outreach”. We will also be bringing it to life with a series of short videos with bloggers, PR professionals and their […]

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Blogger Outreach Best Practice: What’s Next?

by Hugh Anderson July 25, 2012 Blogger Outreach

It’s great when hard work pays off and people appreciate your work. We put a lot of work into our Best Practice Guide for Effective Blogger Outreach. As a result we believe it is the most comprehensive document on the subject available. But it still needs to find its way to the people that need […]

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