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TODD SMITH'S SPIN CYCLE — Measurement plus metrics equals PR success & branding relevance

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

Measurement and metrics are integral and complex parts of our PR world, and it’s increasingly being driven by social media in the digital domain.

In fact, the branding, PR, marketing and ad industries recently converged in Measurement Week 2014 in New York, a four-day conference focused on all things measurement, analytics, media success and ROI.

Many of the sessions showcased the latest trends in our industry, and here are some of the top ways to build your brand while generating awareness through publicity.

1. Measure or perish:

In response to those who say you don’t need to measure social media: There’s an implied value to everything and you’d better measure it.

2. Re-focus on dual value:

Much social media value that’s created is qualitative, not quantitative. Intangible business benefits include building worthwhile relationships and increasing brand awareness. We spend too much time on spreadsheets, not on the human pulse of social media.

3. Be Aware of the evolution of metrics:

Don’t just take old metrics and put them into new contexts without trying to understand what you’re attempting to measure.

4. Set realistic goals:

The job of PR is to create and strengthen audience relationships, so the marketing output that matters should be lead generation. PR professionals shouldn’t be held accountable for the skills of their sales team.

5. Focus on the longevity of PR:

PR lives on in perpetuity in terms of digital news generated. Much content is evergreen, so readers keep clicking long after articles first appear. Therefore, engagement metrics should reflect that and measure PR from a longer-term perspective.

6. Check out the action:

Now we’re digesting lots more data than in the days of print reader pass-along rates, and we are receiving aggregated newsfeeds in real-time. PR is a profit center and not a cost center, so we need to consider actions that impact the bottom line.

Since social media helps connect brands to customers, two-way relationships are needed, where social media becomes a catalyst for action. It’s important to focus on measurements that enhance relationships with your audience as they move up the engagement curve. These “conversions to reliable reach” happen over time.

7. Aim for conversation changers:

Companies should also look for conversations that influence popular culture. Consumer brands such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola have content-rich websites focusing on categories like music. Over time, share of conversations leads to increases in market share.

8. Stay succinct with search bytes:

Since consumer attention spans are low these days, two-to-six word sound bytes are recommended for online search terms. These brief sound bytes should also be measured.

9. Relevance rules:

Sometimes it’s not about ROI, it’s about relevance. Many companies missed out on launching digital versions of their content. For example Rand-McNally Atlas, with vast geographical expertise, never introduced mapping apps.

10. Simplicity beats complexity:

Above all, keep it simple and there’s not necessarily a need to get too sophisticated with super complicated dashboards. Think about the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Simple and brilliant!


5 Reasons Why SEO Belongs in Your PR Toolbox

As this industry evolves, we must always be vigilant about finding new and innovative tools to build brands in the marketplace.

Agencies are becoming more integrated every day, yet many PR practitioners still find challenges with fusing solid PR principles with social media and SEO strategies. To build a successful brand in today’s multi-media world, both are merging into the fast lane of the information super highway.

Here are five reasons why SEO should be in every PR toolbox:

1. News = Search. PR agencies are content experts. The main job is to secure news, right? Then what? We need to promote it through the search engines. With more than six billion searches recorded daily on Google (according to Comscore’s rankings), tap into SEO to create a better strategy focused on content and its placement. It can help every item placed online become content, and not just another boring news release or blog post.

2. PR already writes for people. One major obstacle creatives usually encounter is writing for the web. When we do that, we forget about an audience – any audience. Think and read according to how people want to search. PR folks, like everyone who writes for a digital audience, must understand how to mix keywords with a conversational flow and interesting anecdotes.

3. We pitch content. It may take some getting used to, but you aren’t really pushing out brand ideas, products, or services – everything included in an e-mail to a reporter is content, and all of those e-mails can easily be repurposed into something that lives online. The more content a PR professional can develop or pitch, the more Google appreciates it – and the more target audiences can find it. The online placement of that content can help you learn the finite details about SEO and how it can benefit your brand.

4. The ghost of news releases past. Although clients love them and we often abuse them, news releases have a foundational purpose in this new digital world – and they can live in many places online. Did you know the first press release was written in 1906 by Ivy Lee and actually published verbatim in The New York Times? If today’s releases are written with purpose and a good dose of keyword optimization, solid links, and a grasp of AP-style mastery, those news releases can become steroids for search, and milestones for brands – and make Lee smile.

5. PR and SEO have more in common than you think. If you choose to remember anything from this column, remember that Google is great for PR because it is forcing practitioners to become better writers. So what’s a brand that relies on organic search to do? Turns out that is what Google values the most – links and mentions from high quality, high-reputation sites. This is exactly what competent public relations professionals have been doing for decades. Think about it for a second. Any PR tool is designed to get people to pay attention and then to create a connection. Without awareness and trust, PR is just more noise. Now consider SEO: the idea of this concept is to write content that gets people to pay attention and create, again, a connection to the subject.

In short, awareness comes from relevant keywords and trust comes from good content.


Golden Mic | Jack Ma, Alibaba CEO  

The Alibaba Group IPO had all of Wall Street enthralled when the company hit the New York Stock Exchange last week – offering at $68 a share, and raising $21.8 billion – that was one of the largest ever. Six lead underwriters, 160 bankers, more than 300 institutional salespeople, and thousands of brokers worked the deal. Alibaba is the largest online merchant in the world, with $240 billion in merchandise sold in 2013. The spotlight has shined brightest on Jack Ma, who has proven himself to be the most resourceful and dynamic CEO in all of China. Beyond Alibaba he also founded China’s dominant online payment service, Alipay, and runs Yu’e Bao, a provider of wealth management products that are competing with China’s largest banks. Jack Ma is often favorably compared to the likes of Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett – and for spinning all that Wall Street gold, Ma takes the Golden Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!


» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.



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