EASTWEST Public Relations has developed a tool called the Active Communications Index (ACI) to help business owners track how much work the team is putting into the public relations. There’s a lot of talk about engagement, amplification, and viewers, and so on, but actually, what really matters is how much effort you put in, because this will translate into the profit made at the end of the day. The Active Communications Index is a tool that simplifies the amount of work that needs to be done, and it enables business owners to create a consistent activity level in the market because, often, public relations is an activity that gets undertaken in a flurry. It’s made to help companies find out what would be, for them, a natural rhythm of engagement in activities of public relations. There are three different elements to the Active Communications Index. The basic formula is [Content x Frequency x Channels = ACI]. Content is what you produce, frequency is how often you produce it, and the channels are where you send it to.
Content x Frequency x Channels
The first document that goes with the ACI is the Story Planner, which is made for content. The basic premise is the need to "Storify" the business. In the SPEAK|pr program which stands for Storify, Personalise, Engage, Amplify and to Know, you can Storify your business with the help of the day-by-day planner. In it, you and your team will enter in stories. There are four weeks, and in Week 1, there have seven days wherein you can decide how often you want to publish a story. The idea is each day, you plan and think about what you can say. It comes back to Personalisation which focuses on the messaging of the business and on the content. You could share a story every single day of the week. After doing this until Week 4, you’ve already planned out your daily stories. By creating the stories in advance, mentally, you’re already prepared for the day when it comes. And also, if you’re teeing up something, then we can have that ready. The result of all this planning would then be around 20-24 stories all lined up in advance.
The next factor is frequency. Remember: [Content x Frequency x Channels = Active Communications Index]. The focus here are the three audiences (the internal or staff, the partners or allies, and the external or customers) and when they’re going to be sent information. For them, there is a table with three rows and seven columns, because each column corresponds to a different day of the week, and it also gives a total. Using the frequency chart, the goal is to decide when to send out content to each of the difference audience groups. With the total, you will have the number of times you are going to reach out and send information proactively to the three different audiences.
The third document is for the channels, which are the different places the information is going out to. In the template, the first column is Channels, the second is Internal, and the third is External. Examples could be a staff newsletter, a company newsletter for the customers, a blog, a Facebook group, a YouTube channel, a podcast, a SlideShare account, whatever it may be. Once you decide how often content will be sent out across those different channels and for which audience group it is targeted to go out to, that will give a number.
The significance of the Active Communications Index
The result of all this is a matrix showing the number of channels by the different audiences, and that gives you a total. People often talk in large numbers about engagement, page views, likes, and so on, but it’s a little bit of vanity. To effectively a business, you will want to know how much resource and effort you’re putting into an activity or campaign, because that’s going to be a good judge of what you’re going to get out of it. If you send out something and get lots of lots of hits, that’s great. But if you send out one piece of news and get no pickup, then that doesn’t really give much of an indication as to the consistency. You’re only seeing how well an individual piece of content performed, but not how well the team or the agency performed.
The Active Communications Index is an indicator of how much effort is being spent on the public relations activity. It gives the business owner a number that is sensible and can be repeated on a weekly basis to get an idea of how much the team is doing and if it’s doing it consistently, because public relations is about consistent engagement with the market. It is not a one-off activity. The result is a trend for the business of how much it’s communicating and how well it’s doing. It’s also an indicator of how many channels the company is leveraging in order to get noticed, since one of the key learnings from the Active Communications Index is that it’s about not only the amount of content and frequency, but the number of channels that you use to leverage the content.
See how you can double, triple, or quadruple your activity with the ACI
Here is an example of a month. In Week 1, say you have one piece of news and it is sent out once across two channels. That gives an index of two. If you have one piece of content that’s a press release and it it sent out twice across two channels, that gives an index of four. In other words, just by sending the same piece of news twice across the same number of channels, you get 100% higher index. Now, say on Week 3, you have five pieces of content going out once on two channels, for instance, Twitter and Facebook. 5 x 1 x 2 gives an index of 10. By increasing the content by one per day instead of one per week, with the same number of channels, you get five times the uplift in the actual energy going into the marketplace for the public relations of the company. Finally, say in the final week, you have five pieces of content going out twice, so you’re pretty much repurposing existing content and using two channels. That gives an index of 20, so you’ve got 10 times the index from Week 1, but all you’ve really done is send something out once every day instead of once per week. Remember, it doesn’t even have to be fresh content. You can use the repurpose the same content to go out twice a week and send it across two channels.
As you can see, the Active Communications Index is an extremely simple tool. The goal is keep it simple, because if it can be used by everybody in the organisation, it becomes part of the terminology, like sales leads, conversion ratio, acid ratio. The learnings here are straightforward, because the math means that if you can generate more content using the Story planner, if you can post more frequently with the help of automation, and if you can send it across more channels using social amplification tools, what business owners get is a multiplier effect. It’s not about getting hundreds of agency staff or lots and lots of people doing lots and lots of work. It’s about using tools, content, and technology to leverage the story of the business. That is the essence of the Active Communications Index.
The SPEAK|pr program is a program developed to help business owners who may not want to hire an agency but do need to find ways to unlock the value in their business, and one of the ways they can do that is by using the Active Communications Index. It is a tool for business owners that is free, effective, and easy to implement and manage, so they can see just how likely they are to get noticed, because in business, the more you put in, the more you’re going to get out, so track how much goes in and what comes out.
This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.