Does your company do enough PR? Take our test to find out

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

SPEAK|pr is the host of the Mastermind training course which is part of the public relations business and helps companies big and small mainly in tech but also in education spread their message, especially into the Asia Pacific region. This is perfect for companies that may not need an agency, but would like to have access to some of the tools and the tips that agencies have at their disposal. 

The Evaluator test

EASTWEST PR also has the the Active Communications Index Evaluator test, and the goal of this is to reach out and invite as many people running companies or managing marketing departments to answer this survey which has three sets of questions. Each set is related to the different audience groups, which include the team, the partners, and the customers, both current and future. The questions ask how often the company celebrates the success of its members of the team, how often its customers refer other customers to them, if the partners actually make suggestions to the company on how to improve, if the partners invite that company to take part in joint events and joint promotions, if the company’s clients appear in their marketing material, if customers post social media that is shared by the company and if the company posts about its partners, and more. Simply put, the questions will identify whether people are receptive to the brand, if they’re aware of the brand, if they’re interested in the brand, if they’re engaged with the brand, and if they’re evangelical about the brand, regardless of whether they are a member of the team, a partner, or a customer.

The product of the Evaluator will be a number of data points, which will help companies identify at what stage of engagement (among the five) their different audience groups are. It will give companies both an absolute and a relative position and then some recommendations based on the figures. The absolute value will indicate how much work is currently being done, and the activities of the three stakeholder groups will give an indication of where they’re at along the five stages of engagement.

When counseling companies on public relations and marketing, one of the great unknowns is how much should be done. Clients sometimes don’t know how much they should be spending on PR and marketing, and generally, different industries will allocate different amounts of money to the different phases. The budget for PR and marketing is a function of revenue, not a function of the status of engagement with the brand. This can be addressed this in a fundamental and data-driven way by identifying the amount of work that needs to be done for a company to move individual team members, partners, or customers along this scale of engagement from being receptive to aware to interested to engaged and to evangelical. This is important because in some cases, too much marketing can be a waste of money. If a customer group is already evangelical about a brand, then it’s a different kind of work that requires a different budget and also a different kind of reward.

The Active Communications Index

The point of this Evaluator is to come up with an Active Communications Index which will serve as a way for companies to measure the ongoing work that needs to take place in their marketing, because PR departments often don’t get as much budget or credibility as it could. They can’t justify the amount of money being spent, because they haven’t really determined what the value is beyond coverage, and many things have changed due to the digital nature of advertising. Luckily, the ACI will help clients decide how much content they should distribute through how many channels at what frequency. And because different communities will need different platforms and different content, these factors should be tailored according to where the audience group is along those five stages. 

Since the data will be gathered from people around the world regarding their company size, the number of channels they use, the industry they’re in, and their geographical location, this will create a database which will enable comparison, similar to LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index which tells an individual how they’re doing within their own network and how they’re doing against other people with the same job title and category. Again, this will show an absolute and a relative position. By collating all this information, the second phase will be to give reassurance or encouragement that companies are either doing the right amount of inbound marketing, that they are maybe spending too much time and money on inbound marketing and the ROI is declining, or they need to get the skates on because their competitors are doing more. This will introduce metrics into public relations, not on the coverage side, but on the productivity side because it can be controlled.

As a business owner, knowing how much is being done and how much is being invested is actually more important than some of the vanity metrics like impressions, retweets, and likes, because those metrics don’t translate into anything. It’s just a popularity rating, and as the algorithms are fickle, it can change frequently. Two similar posts on two different days can receive entirely different receptions from the social media universe. As social media is being used to generate leads and inquiries, vanity metrics don’t really give an indication of future sales, because they vary constantly.

Just like any sales activity with a routine and constant approach to the market, that’s also the case with public relations. It’s about constant communication with the three audience groups to ensure that the staff are fully engaged and are evangelists for the brand and for the business, that the partners know enough about the company that they could sell the services to their customers, and that the current customers are happy that they’re actually also helping to become part of your extended sales force. In summary, the Active Communications Index and the Evaluator test are made so that business owners will have a number that they can use to measure the activity levels of their teams. This will produce metrics that will help business owners get more productivity out of public relations and get themselves noticed. 

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

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