Friday, May 28, 2010

Bad PR move: A "touchy" subject

From time to time I come across an example of how not to do PR and think to myself, yikes, that's not a good way to handle (fill in the blank). The key being that I just think about it and move on to other things in my head.

However, this one just bothered me and is worth pointing out as just a bad public relations move.

A hospital's community relations director uses a ridiculous touching tactic to try to get rid of a TV reporter that showed up prior to the start of a community meeting. The reporter was working on a story about a hospital's gift fund. Here's the bizarre exchange:

The story making the rounds in the social-sphere being called hilarious, creepy, best local news video of the year, and more.

Personally, I think it's just stupid and sad. Stupid because it should never have gotten that far. It's one thing to attempt to run interference in order to get the meeting started and try to schedule a more appropriate interview time. It's just poor form to not come up with anything else besides the reporter's apparent phobia for being touched (For the record, the reporter uses the overly aggressive ambush-style interview approach which is questionable as well.) It's just sad because it further perpetuates the caricature image of a smarmy PR persona.

I like this comment from someone on the SF Weekly blog:
"... I understand that reporters like to antagonize individuals to provoke an unpleasant response, but a professional communications director should know to keep his cool and not get drawn into a confrontation."

What do you think? The comments are yours.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

PR people can measure social media. We just need to learn.

I want to be perfectly clear about something, I don't have a complete grasp of social media measurement. But I want to learn. Thankfully, the May 2010 Fort Worth PRSA professional development program was there to help. Katie Paine was our featured speaker and billed to provide morning and lunch sessions focused on key elements of measurement: engagement, including quantitative, qualitative, and new relationship metrics.

If we are going to be any good at using measurement, we must conquer fears. PR people spend too much time being afraid metrics will reveal that their program isn't working; afraid of what they'll hear; afraid they can't justify their program (or existence); and/or are afraid to admit that they don't know how to measure.
"The main reason to measure objectives is not so much to reward or punish individual communications managers for success or failure as it is to learn from the research whether a program should be continued as is, revised, or dropped in favor of another approach."
- Dr. James Grunig of the University of Maryland
Bottom-line, PR people spend too much time trying to justify our existence instead of showing business impact.

Old School vs. New School metrics
Old School Metrics:
  • AVEs (Katie Paine wants to destroy Ad Value Equivalencies.) 
  • Eyeballs
  • HITS (How Idiots Track Success)
  • Couch potatoes (I didn't quite understand this one)
  • # of Twitter followers (unless you're a celebrity)
  • # of Facebook Friends/"Likes" (unless they donate money)
New School Metrics:
  • Influence = The power or ability to effect someone's actions
  • Engagement = Some action beyond zero
  • Advocacy = Engagement driven by an agenda
  • Sentiment = contextual expression of opinion - regardless of tone
  • ROI = Return on Investment - no more, no less. End of discussion.
Starting to sink in
Goals drive metrics, metrics drive results:
Goal - Reputation/Relationship
Metrics - Relationship scores, recommendations, positioning, engagement

Goal - Get the word out on mission/safety/civic engagement
Metrics - % hearing, % believing, % acting

Goal - Marketing/leads/sales
Metrics - Engagement Index, cost per customer acquisition, web analytics, sales leads, marketing mix modeling
One of the great things about Katie Paine's program is that she provided attendees with other excellent resources such as Don Bartholomew (MetricsMan) and Eric Peterson (Web Analytics Demystified.) It says something positive to me when speakers point people to other resources.

The graphic below is from Bartholomew's blog on the topic of the digitization of research and measurement and it helps us visually see what we need to measure:
Here's some thoughts from our speaker on the importance for PR people to measure:
Much more to learn
Katie provided the link to her presentation slides "Are we engaged yet? How to develop your engagement metric." She has opened up a wealth of information for attendees and those who could not make the sessions or carve out some time on her blog. I hope you will take some time to mine such treasures as the 27 conversation types, the seven steps to the perfect 21st Century Measurement Program, engagement on places over which you have no control, why you need a Kick Butt Index and much more.

Finally, I'd like to personally thank Katie for her gracious attitude and thoughtful demeanor while imparting some fantastic information. My seven pages of notes requires some time for reflection and application. (Oh and thanks for explaining Maine coon cats, talking politics and of course, geeking out a bit on NCIS.)

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Discussing the APR requirement for #PRSA national service

One week after news of an effort to eliminate the APR requirement for PRSA national officers and board members and what do we have? Another argument about the value of PR accreditation.

What could be a worthwhile discussion appears to be spiraling into another tedious argument amongst ourselves that reminds me that PR people are sometimes like star-belly Sneetches by Dr. Seuss. (Read through the commentary on the PRSAY blog and others.)

Instead, we could be discussing how to better encourage and enlist non-accredited PRSA members (who make up approximately 80% of membership) for national opportunities up to and including board and officer service. This seems to me to be the crux of the group's argument. They want to have a more democratic approach:
We do not believe that democracy is being served in PRSA so long as only a small minority of its members can hold elective office.  We believe that many worthy members of PRSA who meet national leadership criteria in many other ways are being deprived of the opportunity to serve the organization.

For the record, I'm not accredited. Yet.

I have the professional short-term goal of getting my APR because I see the value in it for me. It's not for the magic letters behind my name, it's for the time, dedication, and preparation that I believe getting accredited takes that will help me be a better public relations professional. In short, I think it's worth it.

Bill Sledzik, APR, and PRSA Fellow wrote last week on this topic as well as left an insightful comment on an older post of mine:
"...The value is personal, and it comes from preparation for the exam, not from those silly letters you put on your business card.

And that's the other side of the issue. The APR doesn't communicate much to people outside of PRSA circles. It's inside baseball. The APR might make you more a effective and well- rounded pro. But it's unlikely to get you a job or a promotion.
The more important debate this week is about the rule within PRSA that restricts non-APRs from holding national office. I favor repeal of that rule so the 80% of PRSA members who don't have the magic star on their bellies can participate in governance of the society."
For me, this is about PRSA governance. We shouldn't limit ourselves in this way. I've gone back and forth this week on this week-old effort and I've come to the conclusion that I don't want PRSA to become a weak-old organization. I believe we have highly qualified APR and non-APR members serving at the local chapter levels who have the skills, desire, and time to devote to PRSA at the national level if given the opportunity. We should critically look at opportunities to adapt and change PRSA for the benefit of all members. This is one of those times for that type of discussion. I think the suggestion by Don Bates, APR, Fellow PRSA on the PRSAY post sums it up nicely:
"...I don’t think the issue posed by the petitioners should be resolved by an all or nothing approach. The PRSA board should form a task force to look at options that will allow the Society to open up the ranks of needed leadership without undermining the concrete professional value of the APR process and APR status."

I hope it doesn't continue to devolve further into the APR haves vs. have-nots argument and we keep perspective on the issue of governance.

What do you think? I'm asking my PRSA member and non-member readers to share your thoughts on this. As always, the comments are yours.
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Social Media Silver Rule

We're all familiar with the Golden Rule. This ethical code simply stated tells humans to do to others what you would like to be done to you. Simple enough, right? And yet we still collectively often get it wrong.

But that's not what this post is about.

Social Media's Silver Rule
I try to write down ideas for post topics when something strikes me as being interesting and relevant. One of the items that has been bouncing around my head for a bit has been the thought for a Social Media Silver Rule:
Don't Be Stupid.
That doesn't sound too hard and yet we see stupid stuff all the time being done on, through, and with social media.

So how can you follow the Social Media Silver Rule?
  1. Check your privacy settings on Facebook.
  2. Don't post things on social networks that will come back to haunt you like eating rancid meat.
  3. Think about what you are sharing.
  4. You don't have to be friends with everyone.
  5. Have a filter. Don't write/tweet/post/share everything that just pops in your head.
  6. Remember what you write/tweet/post/share could easily reflect poorly in professional settings.
  7. You have the right to remain silent; anything you write/tweet/post/share can and might actually be used against you in the court of public opinion.
  8. Check your privacy settings on Facebook. (Yes, it's repeated, but it's worth it if one more person sees the importance of clicking 'Account --> Privacy Settings' in Facebook. They've made some changes at Facebook and you need to know how to block them.)
 What do you think? What are some other ways to be wise in social media? The comments are yours.
    (Photo credit: Gret@Lorenz รจ una combattente!)