Trans­parency and Trust

ArabAd - - CONTENTS - by Saada Ham­mad

PR has long been viewed as the least fi­nan­cially nu­mer­a­tive mar­ket­ing dis­ci­pline. Drawn from the worlds of jour­nal­ism and sto­ry­telling, PR prac­ti­tion­ers are of­ten seen as in­ter­ested in num­bers only when they sup­port the story we wish to tell.

But re­search con­tin­ues to show that PR is ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing higher ROI than any other el­e­ment of the mar­ket­ing mix, de­spite be­ing on av­er­age less than one per cent of over­all mar­ket­ing bud­get. Unlike paid me­dia, earned con­tent re­lies on in­her­ent value to our au­di­ence, and can gen­er­ate re­turns 300 to 800 per cent more cost ef­fec­tive than other touch points.

Put an­other way – if paid me­dia is a gate-crasher in con­sumers’ lives, then PR is a wel­come guest. Our chal­lenge is to be in­vited.

PR in­dus­try evo­lu­tion

Mod­ern public re­la­tions is about more than the tra­di­tional press re­lease or cor­po­rate speech. It’s no longer enough to know how to cre­ate and pitch con­tent – an ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tor needs to know what to say, which channel to use, and how to mea­sure ef­fec­tive­ness. Be­yond the ba­sic skills in writ­ing, pro­duc­tion, and pitch­ing, mod­ern PR prac­ti­tion­ers need to be strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tors, which de­mands com­pe­tency in re­search, de­ci­sion-mak­ing, and prob­lem­solv­ing. They need to have strong busi­ness ac­u­men and think and act as man­age­ment con­sul­tants. In­creas­ingly, we are in­volved in strate­gic plan­ning that be­gins with re­search, and comes full cir­cle in the fi­nal phase of cam­paign mea­sure­ment.

What and how to mea­sure

Mea­sure­ment starts when we take the brief, and ex­tends through the life of the cam­paign. We de­fine busi­ness and com­mu­ni­ca­tions ob­jec­tives to be achieved at the be­gin­ning of the cam­paign plan­ning. At Ogilvy, we have built our mea­sure­ment sys­tem on four key ar­eas:

In­puts: Agreed ser­vice lev­els and scope of work. How many pieces or de­liv­er­ables will be cre­ated as part of a cam­paign or con­tract?

Out­puts: Quan­ti­ta­tive KPI mea­sured as clip­pings, clicks, fol­low­ers, and down­loads. What was our ba­sic reach in terms of peo­ple touched?

Im­pact: Qual­i­ta­tive KPI mea­sured as aware­ness, per­cep­tion change, and share of voice. How have we shaped or changed the con­ver­sa­tion around our brand?

Out­come: Con­crete busi­ness out­comes such as sales, lead gen­er­a­tion, staff re­ten­tion and mar­ket share. What was the di­rect re­turnon-in­vest­ment to our bot­tom line?

You’ll no­tice that the first two are very ba­sic sets of mea­sure­ment, which are nec­es­sary but not al­ways mean­ing­ful when iso­lated from the rest. In­puts are stan­dard and al­ways mea­sured. Out­puts are com­monly mea­sured, but sourced of­ten through third­party com­pa­nies. Both give us only a taste of what’s pos­si­ble.

The sec­ond two get into the heart of the mat­ter. Mea­sur­ing im­pact re­quires re­search on base­line aware­ness and favoura­bil­ity, bring­ing us closer to the con­sumer and other stakeholders. Out­comes re­quire a hands-on dive into the busi­ness, bring­ing us closer to the client.

No mat­ter the size of the cam­paign or pro­gramme we are run­ning, it’s im­por­tant to bal­ance all four vec­tors of mea­sure­ment and make sure that none is for­got­ten. The fu­ture of PR is mov­ing to­wards the core of the mar­ket­ing mix, which nat­u­rally is fo­cused on busi­ness out­comes.

Since we are more than ever be­fore run­ning in­te­grated cam­paigns across tra­di­tional and so­cial me­dia, there is a lot of work with data and an­a­lyt­ics ex­perts on dash­boards that can track and pro­vide re­ports on all four ar­eas of the mea­sure­ment sys­tem.

Chal­lenges to mea­sure­ment

The great­est chal­lenge to mea­sure­ment is the en­trenched in­dus­try habit of mea­sur­ing out­puts – es­pe­cially through an­ti­quated measures such as AVE (Ad­ver­tis­ing Value Equiv­a­lents). There is low over­all adop­tion in so­phis­ti­cated mea­sure­ment tools or frame­works, and too many PR prac­ti­tion­ers (and our clients) are re­luc­tant to in­vest to change the sta­tus quo.

At Ogilvy, we’ve set the tar­get of com­pletely elim­i­nat­ing the use of AVE, and have in­stead built a full mea­sure­ment frame­work, with a special fo­cus on busi­ness out­comes.

Busi­ness out­comes are the hard­est mea­sure to achieve, be­cause it re­quires part­ner­ship and risk-tak­ing. It means be­ing in­quis­i­tive when we re­ceive a brief, be­ing trans­par­ent about shar­ing data and mar­ket­ing im­pact, and be­ing hon­est enough to dis­cuss poor out­comes rather than pa­per­ing them over with clips. It also re­quires in­vest­ment in re­search that clients are not al­ways will­ing to do in the con­text of PR cam­paigns.

Un­for­tu­nately, not all clients are ready to com­mit to an out­comes-fo­cused part­ner­ship by shar­ing data, and not all agen­cies are ready and able to de­mand it. It takes trans­parency, trust, and con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion – about both good and bad news – to form strong agency/client re­la­tion­ships.

Due to the na­ture of the dis­ci­pline, most PR cam­paigns are long term and take time to show the full im­pact, and clients are not al­ways will­ing to ac­cept that.

Achiev­ing con­sen­sus on mea­sure­ment

I’m a per­sonal believer in the mar­ket­place for ideas, so I’m not at all wor­ried we haven’t achieved con­sen­sus. We are all work­ing to­wards the end goal of busi­ness re­sults. The in­dus­try right now is in a mo­ment of change, and the one thing my ex­pe­ri­ence has taught me is that the best ideas will sur­vive and if we can demon­strate im­pact in more mea­sur­able ways, we can only con­tinue to grow.

Un­for­tu­nately, not all clients are ready to com­mit to an out­comes-fo­cused part­ner­ship by shar­ing data, and not all agen­cies are ready and able to de­mand it. It takes trans­parency, trust, and con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion – about both good and bad news – to form strong agency/ client re­la­tion­ships.

Saada Ham­mad MENA re­gional di­rec­tor of Memac Ogilvy Public Re­la­tions, and act­ing man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Memac Ogilvy UAE

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