A lot of time gets spent discussing the best ways to measure outcomes from social media and public relations activities.
In the PR world, practitioners are still trying to resist ongoing efforts to quantify editorial outcomes by referring to paid advertising rates. The process there is about calculating “Advertising Value Equivalents” or AVE’s and the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) pretty much disowns any practitioner who agrees to this approach.
I certainly do agree that the subtlety of editorial – the balance of messages, the inclusion of different stakeholders and the authority of genuine news – means it can’t be given a dollar value in the same way advertising is.
In social media too, practitioners and strategists are debating the best and most appropriate forms of measurement. New platforms are emerging and with them come new metrics. Even basic measures of social media parameters like “reach” cause confusion as marketers try to work out whether it includes or excludes paid exposure (in Facebook campaigns, for example, “reach” includes paid exposure).
Less time seems to gets spent thinking through how each of the various elements is connected to the other and indeed feeds additional content into it. Rather than think of social media, digital media and public relations as separate communications channels, it might serve a more productive purpose if we consider how they are each interconnected.
So let’s think about the relationships between those three elements – social media, digital media and public relations – and consider how they can be more productively linked.
The Fully Sick Rapper educating consumers on cough ettiquette via social media
Question 1: How do you drive traditional PR via your social media campaign?
Answer: By producing and promoting content that is entertaining, newsworthy and (preferably) hilarious.
If Sunrise and TODAY are covering the latest Youtube video involving “The Fully Sick Rapper” as part of an online campaign sponsored by a cough brand to reduce the spread of germs during winter, then that is an example of online marketing (the campaign) driving traditional PR (the editorial coverage on national TV).
You can only pull it off if you’ve got the right content (funny, cool video), the right talent (Fully Sick) and you are promoting it at the right time (during winter for coughs and colds).
Because you are trying to drive traditional PR (ie, editorial news coverage) there is no real way of knowing in advance that it is going to work. It seems clever to talk about it now but at the time of its conception there was no way of knowing what audience might be generated by the editorial interest in the campaign. That is the joy, fun, excitement and mystery of traditional PR.
So online resources have a role to play online but should also be developed with a view to broader editorial news interest.
To see an example of this kind of project go to:
The Space Cowboy performing the world record (and branded) sword swallow
How do you drive your online marketing via a traditional PR tactic like a stunt?
Answer: By turning the stunt into content for your online marketing and leveraging the editorial media interest generated by the stunt online at the assets owned by you.
Consider an entertaining high profile stunt done in front of a large audience at a topical location. You are trying to attract a big crowd and some broadcast media. But you need to be framing the stunt and capturing the content in a way gives you something to leverage as part of your ongoing campaign.
When the “Space Cowboy” was sponsored by a manufacturer to break the record for the most number of swords swallowed in one go, there was no way of accurately predicting the level of media interest. Again, that is the joy of PR and editorial processes – you just never know what size of an audience might be generated. What you can control however, is how well the event is translated into content for your existing online audience. It’s essentially a game of risk management. If the editorial media interest does not eventuate then producing, editing, owning and promoting the content is your fall back.
So the event is an opportunity to capture content for your campaign website and Facebook campaign. It is giving you more opportunities to remind your audience that you are capable of both entertaining and educating them.
And if the editorial coverage does happen (ie, TV coverage, international news wires etc) then you’ve got even more content to leverage along with the additional kudos that comes from showing your audience that they are part of something bigger that is generating wider interest.
To see an example of this kind of project go to
Advertising and promotions in support of the Fully Sick campaign
Question 3: How do you drive successful social media engagement via your digital marketing?
Answer: By accepting that you have to pay money to promote social media campaigns.
People love to talk about how successful online marketing campaigns go “viral”. And about how “engagement” will help spread awareness. Everyone wants their campaign to be focused “organic” rather than “paid”. The implication always seems to be that if you get it right, the whole thing need not put a dint in your marketing budget – that the promotion of your resources might just happen via, well, magic.
The reality is that you need to be thinking about two budget streams for your online campaign. First, you need to budget for the development of the content and resources. Second you need to budget for the paid promotions (ads, give-aways, advertorials, sponsored blogs) that are going to drive an audience for your campaign.
In my experience, not spending enough on promotions is one of the most common mistakes in developing online campaigns. In some ways it is related to expectations. Sometimes marketers over-rate the value of their content and overestimate the prospects of it being promoted “organically’.
If you are running a campaign to promote better health during winter, raise awareness of a disease or promote a call to action (like cancer screening) then a paid promotional plan is part of the program. Great if you get some natural viral “spreading of the word” because your campaign is clever and the resources are irresistible.
But you need a media spend too.
Digital marketing, social media and public relations can all be very impactful tactics for promoting health messages and brands. They work even better when they trade content and feed opportunities to each other.
The challenge is to think about making the linkages and leverage work in ways that add extra value to your overall campaign.