Persuasive Picks For Week Of 8/5/13

google_prGoogle updated its webmaster guidelines that target core PR practices around press releases. Silicon Valley journalist blogger and ZDNET contributor Tom Foremski weighs in on the negative impact this will have for the press release. Check out his take Did Google just kill PR agencies? to find out more on the updated rules on links and keywords in press releases and how they may affect your future release plans.

Facebook Changes News Feed To Bump Up More Relevant Content – Called “Story Bumping,” the changes move up older stories to the top of a user’s News Feed if they missed them during a previous visit to Facebook. Forbes writer Tomio Geron clarifies the changes and shares some initial reactions and results.

29_29NOV_010.jpgAll marketing practitioners are seeking ways to save money and get a bigger bang for their budget buck. How to do that isn’t at all obvious. MarketingProfs‘ Ardi Kolah explains that sometimes the answer can be staring you in the face and offers 10 Ways to Stretch Your Marketing Budget

Social has become a critical component of the overall digital advertising market. As Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others have emerged as social network leaders, they have created powerful new ways for advertising to reach consumers. In fact, some $11 billion will be taken in advertising revenue in social media in the year 2017 – that’s according to this incredible infographic that looks at the rise and rise of ad sales on social sites. A Brief History of Social Advertising via The Next Web.

Measuring the Real Value of Media Coverage

Public-Relations-Results-Measuring-&-Determining-ValueI came across an interesting blog post in MediaPost recently in which the author, travel PR executive Vicky Hastings, noted that quantitative measures are no longer sufficient for measuring the success of PR. Hear hear!

While the ‘what’s’ and ‘how’s’ of PR measurement will remain in debate for years to come, particularly as the industry continues to add social media to their PR mix, what I found of most interest is the recommended approach to measuring and reporting on media coverage.

Like the author of the above-mentioned blog post, we at PerkettPR believe that media coverage should be measured on both quantity and quality. Yes, the quantity of articles is important, but I’d argue that the quality of that coverage is equally important. Even as I write this, however, I know there will never come a day when a client requests great articles over more articles. ☺

Media Coverage ≠ Ad Space
We do agree that the purpose of media relations is not only to generate awareness, but to also obtain third party validation. A journalist-written article about a brand or its product is inherently more valuable than purchased ad space. The author notes that advertising equivalencies (AVEs) should never be used as a measurement for media coverage, and we wholeheartedly agree.

Measuring against AVE’s is an outdated and inaccurate assessment of an article’s value for several reasons – not the least of which is the existence of digital-only publications and the fact that 50 percent of consumers read their news online (The Social Guy offers some insight on how AVEs work – or don’t – in the digital age).

Another big one in my book is that it doesn’t take into account the quality of an article. Granted, quality is a unique and somewhat subjective factor in media measurement. While one can argue that a quarter-page ad in Forbes offers more value than a similar ad in a trade publication, that’s not necessarily true. It may cost more, but it’s the impact of the ad that matters.

Value is in the eye of the beholder
The same holds true for media coverage. The perception of value is largely dependent on the publications that best deliver on an individual company’s PR goals. For example, if the first goal of PR is to drive leads for the sales team, a trade publication read by sales prospects may be more helpful in generating leads than a story in a top business outlet; and will therefore be perceived as more valuable.

Shouldn’t that article then be measured more highly in accordance with its perceived value?

Next, consider the elements that make up that article. Does it hit on the company’s key messages? Does it include a spokesperson quote? A customer success story? Or even a photo or screenshot of the company’s product? Each of these elements not only adds another layer to the story, but also offers greater value. To measure an article that contains all of these elements simply by how much ad space it commands is hardly a true assessment of its actual value.

Measurement Matters
At PerkettPR, we promote a broader view and definition of media measurement to our clients, and by and large, they agree with this approach. But determining what to measure is only half the battle. Figuring out how to measure it is the hard part.

That’s why we’ve developed our own proprietary methodology and reporting process to address this need, but we’re curious to know what others are doing to measure and report the real value of media coverage.

Got any tips or insights you’d like to share? What do your clients ask for or care about most? We’d love to follow this post with a round up of your best ideas.

What does a public relations agency do?

QuestionMarkNo, seriously! Perhaps you’ve come here looking for public relations help with your company or a job in the field, or maybe you simply stumbled across our blog (in that case, hello and welcome!). But either way, there’s a good chance you may find yourself asking that very question at one point or another.

And you’re not alone. There’s a reason we have a dedicated Facebook page about the fact that explaining what we do can be tough – even for us folks in the industry!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fielded questions from people about “ads” or “articles” at personal gatherings and family functions when the inevitable job topic arises. I don’t think I’ve ever described it the same way twice; the definition may start off the same, but it usually ends up taking different paths each time, based on the audience and the types of questions they’re asking.

And rather than give a tactical rundown of a ‘typical’ days’ worth of activities (e.g. writing a press release or pitch, tweeting, calling media contacts, brainstorming during a messaging session, monitoring client and competitor news), it’s oftentimes more effective to address the actual purpose of our job – meaning raising awareness, shaping a brand, influencing demand, generating leads, and much, much more.

So, inspired by a recent Forbes article on the topic, we decided to tackle the topic ourselves. See below for a sampling of some of the PerkettPR staff’s perspective on wrangling the ever-evolving definition of PR and what it is we’re doing here:

“One of my favorite quotes having to do with the definition of PR is from Reader’s Digest, attributed to M. Booth and Associates: “If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying ‘Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,’ that is advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that is promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that is publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it that is public relations.’ But even though this definition drives at the heart of PR, what we do encompasses a whole lot more than that!”

“On a daily basis our roles are ever-changing and hard to define – from media relations, crisis communications, social media, copywriting, event coordination, C-level strategy sessions, reputation management, videography, web design, customer service, infographic creation, etc. But the one constant is the overarching common thread between them that stays the same – the value we add by earning people’s attention though a thorough understanding of our audience(s), well-crafted stories and good old-fashioned communication skills.”

“Public relations is a form of marketing where I utilize my writing and communication skills to make the public understand my company’s product or technology. It is my job to spread the word about the product or technology in a positive way to keep customers coming back again and again.”

“When I started in this business, I thought of my job as creating awareness. And while I think that’s still true, the way we accomplish this has changed dramatically. Now I tend to think of PR as a form of content creation. Whether it’s creating news via press releases; visuals such as infographics or video; events like Twitter chats or Google Hangouts; or creating community via engagement across social channels; these efforts and the resulting content combine to create awareness for our clients. Regardless of how we define PR and the role agency plays, there’s no doubt we play an important part in our clients’ success directly and indirectly.”

“Defining PR is no easy feat – especially as its definition is constantly evolving. Good PR, however, is the process of building relationships, creating conversations, influencing the news while shaping a company’s brand perception. It’s how a company engages, discusses and fosters positive awareness with the right audience at the right time using the right medium. PR is powerful, and Bill Gate’s summed it up the best when he said, ‘If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.’”

Got anything to add to our descriptions of the PR function? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Telecommuting Tips for Those Who Don’t Work at Yahoo

This week is National TeleWork Week (March 4-8). Coincidentally this week also falls on the heels of the Yahoo decision to stop all telecommuting – so for those of you that work at Yahoo we apologize in advance, and you can stop reading here :)

Work from home comic

Whether you think Yahoo made the wrong decision or it was all ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ it does help to raise awareness for the passion people have for telework — and we are no exception. With over 15 years as a virtual business we have deep experience on the topic. So without further ado — here are our team’s work from home tips for success.

Tips for staying productive when working from home:

  • Keep the “To Do” list handy. Knowing what you have to accomplish makes it easier to plan your day and there is a huge feeling of accomplishment when you cross things off the list.
  • Take advantage of the little perks you wouldn’t have in a traditional office and customize your environment however you are comfortable and productive; wear comfortable clothing, sit on a balance ball instead of a chair, play some motivational music – heck, light a candle. These are luxuries the office worker isn’t typically allowed, so go for it. Your work environment has a huge impact on productivity, so create a space that makes you feel good.
  • Take mini breaks. Get up and walk around to get the blood flowing; check the mailbox; throw in a load of laundry; take out the trash. Take advantage of your home setting and knock out a few quick chores throughout the day.
  • Have a daily routine. Have breakfast, followed by a big cup of coffee, work through the morning’s emails, plan out your day, schedule a walk at lunch and make sure you get out of the house.
  • Plot projects based on natural rhythm. For example, perhaps try to work on writing and pitching later in the day when you can focus and dig deeper without as many distractions.
  • Eat lunch. On busy days, it’s so easy to lose track of the time, but take a brain break and eat something healthy to give you that final push for the remainder of the day. When in doubt, chocolate helps then, too!
  • Give yourself a win. In PR, we’ve got a variety of projects and priorities and things are constantly changing, but start the day with a “win,” meaning tacking at least one smaller project to completion. There’s nothing as inspiring as crossing something off your to-do list early to get the day going on a positive note!
  • Get a sounding board. If you are an animal lover consider adopting a dog or cat. If not, you could always try a Talking Tom doll. Working from home can be isolating and everyone needs someone to talk to, even if they can’t talk back :).
  • Have a back-up plan. Just like an office that could lose Internet access, power, or be shut down for maintenance, know what your back up plan is and be able to get there fast. Working from home should be seamless even when inconveniences like power outages happen.

Still not sure you are ready to work from home? Here are some direct quotes from our team members to inspire you to explore the idea further:

“I absolutely love having the ability to work from home. There’s something so satisfying about being able to dig in and get work done more efficiently without the usual office distractions, and it’s given me a better quality of life overall.”

“At one point in my career, I was commuting three hours per day (round trip) – that’s 60 hours per month of “lost” time! So I’m not only appreciative to have that time back each week, but also grateful to be able to reinvest it in things that matter, whether it’s work, family, friends, hobbies or just recharging my battery.”

“I believe that happy, fulfilled people are more productive and creative in their work, and I’ve seen that firsthand at PerkettPR. Our colleagues are able to attend functions with their kids, run marathons, blog, cheer on their favorite sports teams, write books, win Maker Faire competitions, create art installations displayed in museums, and much, much more. It’s that kind of passion, perseverance and out-of-the box thinking that makes us more interesting as people, and is also allows us to offer a greater depth of imagination and resourcefulness in our daily work.”

“As a mom of three, working from home has allowed me stay in the workforce, contribute financially to my family, all while staying an active – and visible – participant in my children’s lives every single day. The idea of commuting to the city – two hours each way, not getting home until 7pm – I couldn’t imagine a bigger detractor to my productivity than taking away those hours with my kids.”

“I love working from home because with school-aged children, I feel better knowing that I am nearby and accessible if there is an emergency such as a call from the school nurse. I don’t have to worry about waiting for a train ride home or sitting in traffic. That is invaluable to me.”

“Life is way too short to spend a quarter of your waking hours sitting in traffic in a car. There is too much to do and too much to experience with all of those wasted hours. Successful people are successful no matter where they work: At airports, in an office , on the beach…working from home is no different. You just have to be diligent about eliminating distractions.”

We believe our team’s appreciation for a solid work/life balance has a direct impact on their contributions to our success. And as Jean Baptiste Su says in his above linked Forbes piece on the subject: Happy employees make great companies.

What are some of your work from home productivity tips?

Persuasive Picks for week of 8/6/12

Video is the undisputed darling of the marketing world in 2012. There are a variety of reasons web-based video is such an important media vehicle, and marketers that understand the nuances will be more successful than the laggards. To get started, Kent Lewis of iMediaConnection provides The ultimate guide to video marketing on YouTube.

How do you build buzz in social media? What makes social media real-life marketing events successful? It is not one thing in particular, but many things, according to Christel Quek and 2morrowknight of The Huffington Post and offer a few takeaways on Creating Social Media Buzz.

Social media, although a relatively recent phenomenon, has become an increasingly more important part of marketing and client base development platform for businesses. What could once be accomplished by a traditional website now needs to be supplemented by a robust and responsive utilization of the tools social media offers. Forbes contributor Jessica Bosari explains The Developing Role of Social Media in the Modern Business World and provides some tips for those looking to bring their business up to speed.

The social space has rapidly matured over the last decade-plus, but social media measurement remains a mystery for many. Adam Singer at ClickZ thinks that measurement is something that’s very possible, and offers 4 Ideas for Better Social Media Measurement.