PR professionals guide to measurement

July 23, 2013 by  
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Kaz Scott – Strategy & Planning Director, Ogilvy Public Relations

The world of PR measurement is changing, albeit at a snail’s pace! Responsibility rests with both clients and agencies and it’s up to both sides to push each other towards more meaningful measurement. That means driving a stake through the heart of AVEs, educating and pushing back on those who still think that AVEs are a ‘like-for-like’ measure with paid-for media. Instead, try opening a conversation about higher value coverage that actually reaches your target audience – or introducing a level of rigour through the Valid Metrics Framework; by working on solutions that measure outcomes and impacts (rather than just inputs and outputs like media coverage); introducing Share of Voice benchmarking or investing in Share of Impact analysis.

The bottom line is that there is no silver bullet – every client and project needs its own measurement solution – put in place up front rather than at the end. And most importantly, we’ve got to be prepared to invest in measurement – estimate about 10% of any budget to be put aside for this.

Read Kaz’s view in the latest edition of Influencing, PRIA’s measurement guide “a good solution” here


Bring on the debate between business and Canberra

June 27, 2013 by  
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Despite the inevitable focus on the change in Labor leadership, its worth reflecting on Julia Gillard’s recent CEDA speech in Canberra, defending the strength of the Australian economy, as a timely intervention into the nature of public debate in Australia.  She took to task some economists, business leaders and sections of the media for talking down the economy.  And while the content of the speech wasn’t out of the ordinary, it was the reaction of those who were the subject of her criticism that provoked my interest, drawing attention to the broader issue of debate between politicians and business in Australia.

Saul Eslake, a highly regarded economist, took issue with the then PM’s remarks and said that she was “in a sense, shooting the messenger” – after all he was simply doing was his job and pointing out the risks to the economy.  Retail boss Gerry Harvey also reacted to her criticisms that an unnamed “retail industry leader” was publicly complaining about the impact of the declining value of the Australian dollar. Mr Harvey apparently was “absolutely perplexed” by the criticism describing it as “beyond comprehension”.

The broader point here is that if business wants to engage in policy debate, it needs to be prepared to wear the consequences of a spirited rebuttal by politicians, and then respond (and keep on responding) in kind.  That’s what debate is all about.  To his credit Eslake did contest Julia Gillard’s comments but it seems he didn’t like the political blowtorch being applied to him as evidenced by his complaints about shooting the messenger.

There are interesting lessons to be learned from this small exchange.  Politicians quite rightly complain that when it comes to public discourse, some business leaders go missing, the charge being that they are too willing to hide behind their industry associations and corporate spokespeople. Formulaic responses are usually issued in attempt to dampen down debate in the hope that the relentless news cycle will soon pass them by.  Business leaders are often advised to do this by their corporate affairs people (guilty your honour!) who themselves are often from the political class, and who know that when it comes to a public battle of wills, politicians are very good at wearing the slings and arrows of debate, and then come out guns blazing.

It is entirely understandable that business leaders tend to shy away from public conflict with politicians knowing that they will inevitably cop a bruising and potentially invite retribution, which could translate into reprove from nervous boards and investors, who are all for a quiet life.   I have sat through plenty of meetings where everyone agrees that a political issue should be contested, but when the discussion gets to the pointy end -  who is actually going to ‘bell the cat’ and front up and run the arguments publicly -  caution often prevails. Talk of brave opposition soon dissolves into how best to ‘fly under the radar’ (just this once of course).

For their part politicians should continue to encourage this sort of debate, and not exhibit sensitivity when others venture into the public arena of ideas.   And when business does enter the contest of ideas, politicians should recognise this, particularly as the easiest of options for a business leader is to hold fire if the alternative is public trial by fire.

Business leaders too can take the lead in this sort of debate.  David Murray often comes to mind as someone who was prepared to draw a line in the sand and speak his mind on an issue of principle.  In 2004 when he was the Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Bank, he was prepared to take NSW Commerce Minister, John Della Bosca, to task for proposing new tough laws including five-year jail penalties, making employers liable for workplace deaths, calling them “absolutely abominable”.

Curiously this sort of response can often draw a private rebuke from Canberra or Macquarie Street where reasoned opposition from a business leader leads to mutterings that the business person in question should stick to their knitting, and not interfere in political issues.

A liberal democracy needs robust and civil public discourse between politicians and business leaders.  The time for such a debate is particularly pressing in the lead up to the Federal election where, to date, political distractions have unfortunately got in the way of a proper discussion on the economy and policy, between Labor and the Coalition.

Now more than ever, business leaders need to make their voice heard, and politicians should encourage greater public discourse.  Our democracy will be stronger for it.


David Bell – GMD Corporate 27th June 2013

Should CEOs and executives tweet?

May 8, 2013 by  
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While most in the business community would readily say yes, few if any put this in to practice.

In the recent edition of Boss Magazine in the AFR an article entitled ‘How to avoid social media death’ explored the reticence behind social media adoption and provided a few handy tips on getting started and mastering the art of social communication in the digital age.

According to the article, only four of the top 100 ASX listed companies had CEO or MDs who had an active Twitter presence – News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch, Wesfarmer’s Richard Goyder, Bank of Queensland’s Stuart Grimshaw and Atlas Iron’s Ken Brinsden.

As the article rightly points out, social media isn’t just about brand awareness stating that “those who get involved in Twitter and other social media will reap intangible but real benefits from being closer to their customers base and ahead of the curve on emerging trends. They will also have the chance to elevate their personal brand and their company’s reputation by displaying a human face”.

So, why such unwillingness amongst Australia’s key business decision makers? The single biggest obstacle for executives looking to become more socially savvy is having the appropriate social media knowledge, time or technical skills. Too often executives will simply put social media in the too hard basket – “it’s not for me”, “there isn’t any value in it”, “I just don’t have the time to tweet”, “people don’t want to know when I’m brushing my teeth”.

A degree of reluctance is understandable. Social media is not the easiest medium to understand not least of all because of constant state of change, new and emerging tools and the omnipresent risk of doing significant organisational and personal brand damage.

As a Queensland recruiting executive recently found out, it is very difficult to divorce a personal account from your professional career. The recruiter posted abusive messages on Twitter directed at radio personality Wendy Harmer. The executive was forced to publicly apologise and his online ‘spat’ resulted in news coverage across a variety of online outlets.

Through knowledge sharing, training and a companywide adoption, CEOs can ingrain social media into their everyday business thinking and activities.

Social media training should be a mandatory requirement for executives and senior management. It does not necessarily need to be a precursor to establishing a presence but at the very least it will give those who are charged with critical decision making the basic knowledge on how social media can affect a business from sales to thought leadership and everything in between.

Those executives who have mastered the art of social media communication have usually undertaken some form of training or digital eminence course.

Executives can undertake a simple three pronged approach to better understand and utilise social media tools:

  1. Understand the landscape – who is your audience, where are they and what are they saying
  2. Create content that is relevant to the audience – what insight can I provide that will add value to the audience and properly reflect my business and position
  3. Begin to engage with the audience through informed and friendly dialogue, providing personal experience and business insight

Social media is not the natural domain of Australia’s business elite. But those who master it sooner, undertake the necessary training and seek to readily engage with the community, will quickly find a competitive advantage and some very addictive tools!

By Thomas Tudehope social@ogilvy

The Ogilvy PR Experience

April 12, 2013 by  
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We have no Public Relations department. I take the view that public relations should be handled by the manufacturer himself, or by specialist counsel,” – David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man (1963).

Before undertaking my internship with Ogilvy Public Relations (PR), I thought it would be a good idea to find out more about the man behind the name. Naturally, I was shocked to read the above sentence, as Ogilvy PR is one of the worlds most recognised and respected communication brands, which made the lead up to my internship both daunting and exciting.

“I admire people with gentle manners who treat other people as human beings.”

Walking off Christie Street into Ogilvy House was quite an experience in its own right. The sheer size and scale was overwhelming, but the friendly smiles of the team at Howorth Communications and Social@Ogilvy quickly changed all that.

“I admire people who build up subordinates.”

Something that makes the Ogilvy PR Internship experience unique is its structure. One day I was creating media lists, drafting pitches and compiling research, and the next day I was involved in brainstorms, helped prepare events, and attended company-training sessions. Every single second of my day at Howorth was organised as I came to grips with using media monitoring platforms, assemble coverage reports and learnt about the importance of strategic messaging. Whilst this certainly challenged my time management skills, the tasks and the mentorship provided really helped me to further develop and apply my skills.

“I admire self-confident professionals, the craftsmen who do their jobs with superlative excellence. They always seem to respect the expertise of their colleagues.”

Howorth, like many of Ogilvy PR companies, makes a point of being creative in its work and takes pride in its office culture. There were a number of occasions where I observed staff pause to celebrate a co-workers success or mourn their departure, only to continue working tirelessly in order to not only meet, but also exceed, client expectations.

“I try to get the very best out of every man and woman in the agency.”

It is only now that I reflect and am writing about this experience that I realise just how lucky I am to have been given the opportunity to work at such a wonderful company and be surrounded by even more wonderful people. What I have taken from this internship is a huge amount of confidence in my ability, and a drive to continue learning as much as I can about being a good PR practitioner, with the hope that one day I will return.

I look at the first quote from this great man and I have a range of mixed feelings – although he lived to see Ogilvy PR come to life, it saddens me that David Ogilvy passed away not having seen the brilliant work of his team in the public relations space. However, as I flick through his book once more and look at my experience, I know that if he were still alive today he would be very, very proud.

By David Dunn

Companies slow to get the social message

April 4, 2013 by  
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A recent report, Trends and Issues in Australian Corporate Affairs, has highlighted some worrying disconnect in corporate Australia’s engagement with social media.

The second annual report, by executive search firm Salt & Shein, resulted from on-line surveys in December of 324 mainly-Sydney-based in-house corporate affairs professionals. There were plenty of interesting findings but what surprised me were the responses to a couple of questions.

The first was when people were asked to nominate the most significant issue they thought they would have to deal with as a communicator in 2013 and beyond. The clear leader in the concern stakes was social media, which, when variations on it were added, came to 36 per cent of responses. To give some idea of the gap, the second biggest coming concern was dealing with flat or reduced budgets and resources, and that came in at 8 per cent.

In response to another question, an overwhelming 75 per cent said they believed that the role of social media had become more important over the past year. Nothing too surprising in those findings, except when you compare those concerns with company action.

Despite the communications experts’ fears, just over 50 per cent reported that their organisations had committed no dedicated resources to social and digital media, a similar figure to last year. Of the 44 per cent who said they did have social media resources, the average team consisted of 1-2 staff.

The phrase ‘accident waiting to happen’ springs to mind.

Is the climate right for risk taking?

March 26, 2013 by  
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It took the launch on Tuesday of the updated Climate Institute/GE Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index to bring home the underlying message about climate change. That is that while climate might be the agent of change, our focus has to be on risk.

Lord Nicholas Stern, the author of the Stern Review – the highly influential 2006 UK government-commissioned review on climate change, spoke at the launch via teleconference. He pointed out that the world had not seen temperatures rise by more than three degrees above the long term average for the past 3,000,000 years – when sea levels were around 20 metres higher than at present – yet we are now looking at a four to five degree increase in the next 40 to 50 years. Just what effect that is going to have on life and death matters like food security, the availability of water and extraordinary climate events – let alone the upheaval caused by the forced migration of millions of displaced people – is best left to the experts.

What I do know is that the likelihood of such occurrences is now so persuasive that businesses and organisations must look to including climate change in their risk analyses in the same way that they factor in any other risk.

Chi Mun Woo, the director of Climate Change and Sustainability at KPMG, perhaps put it best at the launch when he said of some boardrooms in which “there are rational decisions being made for a world that doesn’t exist anymore.”

Lord Stern has said recently that he had underestimated the risks and would have been “a bit more blunt” in his report had he known the effects of the past six years. At the launch he pointed out that China, which was reorientating its economy, had jumped up the Low-Carbon Competitiveness index to third place behind France and Japan.

Australia is ranked 17th, after a “fragile improvement in low carbon competitiveness” –  as characterised by John Connor, the CEO of the Climate Institute.

In the interests of transparency, I should tell you that Ogilvy PR partners with the Climate Institute and I sit on its strategic board. In the interests of even further transparency, I should tell you that I do it for my beautiful six-year-old daughter and couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t think I was doing at least something: after all, it’s not worth the risk.

Download The Climate Institute, Global Climate Leadership Review 2013 here.

By Kieran Moore.

The coup that wasn’t

March 22, 2013 by  
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In a day where Australian politics has resembled  a TV reality show Prime Minister Julia Gillard has once again emerged as the ultimate Survivor.

The tumult began when ALP-elder Simon Crean announced to the media that he had urged the Prime Minister to call a ballot for both the Leadership and Deputy Leadership of the Party and thus the Government. Crean proposed this as a “circuit breaker” – one which in his view would serve to stabilise the Labor Party in the lead-up to the Federal Election, and would finally put an end to continued speculation and internal politicking regarding the Party leadership. Crean announced he would run for the Deputy’s position, currently held by Treasurer Wayne Swan, and though he hadn’t had a conversation at that point with the ex-PM he was certain that Kevin Rudd would nominate for the leadership position, and win.

At the beginning of Question Time the Prime Minister announced there would be a vote on the positions at 4.30pm and the media frolicked outside the ALP Party Room anticipating another historic coup d’état. Yet it was not to be. Unfortunately for the former PM it emerged his lobbyists and number crunchers couldn’t count, and that he would not have enough support to win a ballot. Consequently he announced he would not be contesting the leadership position and said he would stick with his oft-stated position he wouldn’t challenge.

The highly anticipated coup d’état suddenly became a farcical non-event. No vote for either leadership position took place and Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan both retained their positions unopposed. Though Gillard and Swan are notionally unscathed, it is the Labor Party itself which is now in tatters as Rudd supporters resign from their Cabinet positions, with Ministers Crean, Bowen, Ferguson and junior front-bencher Richard Marles being the most prominent early casualties.

The only winners from the whole debacle have been the Coalition, which has been fed more material to support their claim that the Government is terminally unstable and unfit to lead the nation.

Perhaps the greatest casualty of the day, however, was the apology to victims of forced adoption. To a morning gathering in the Great Hall, and in a spirit of bipartisan and genuine regret, Prime Minister Gillard and Opposition Leader Abbott both gave heartfelt apologies to those who continue to suffer from Australia’s forced adoption policies of past decades. For Julia Gillard, the speech was remarkable, beautiful, and on any other day would have been declared a highlight of her career. For the sufferers of forced adoption, the afternoon chaos diverted national attention away from what should have been a day of recognition, healing and reflection.

By Michael Hartmann.

Sam’s view

March 21, 2013 by  
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As it seems that everyone wants to comment on the Federal Government’s proposed media laws, let me throw my opinion into the mix. Before coming to PR around four years ago, I spent 35 years as a journalist and for four of those years I was a Fairfax representative on the Australian Press Council.

My thoughts from that time are that virtually everyone – including News and Fairfax – agrees that the media needs some regulation. However, self-regulation doesn’t work. The media in Britain – despite a succession of increasingly dire warnings from governments of all persuasions – has shown that the media can’t control itself. While the situation here is nowhere near as bad, doesn’t anyone remember the axiom about horses and stable doors?

What seems to be forgotten amid all the over-the-top rhetoric about “Stalinist” government control is that the biggest beef the public have with the current Australian Press Council is that the APC is under the control of the media, who pay for it and who have shown in the recent past that they are quite happy to use their financial muscle to regulate its composition where necessary.

The government already pays for judges and magistrates, just as it would pay for a person to oversight the existing media regulators. Is anyone suggesting that their actions are directed by the government’s cheque?

By Sam North.

The real reason I did the ride

March 21, 2013 by  
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Photo by Epsom St Studios

There comes a time in life when your body tells you that it is not as young as it used to be. You can never predict when this will occur, but the symptoms are pretty clear. If your kids can beat you at your favourite sport, then you are probably there. If the idea of chasing a soccer-ball causes a warning twitch in your left hamstring, then you are probably there. If your kids suddenly realise that you never played for the Wallabies, you weren’t a ruckman for Collingwood and you never even laid eyes on Bradman let alone bowled him for a duck, then you most certainly are there.

So what do you do? For years there has been but one solution… take up golf. It’s great! You get an excuse to frequent the pro-shop and a justification to purchase ridiculously expensive Titlelist graphite clubs and flashy clothing. You get to subscribe to golf magazines where you learn new tips, meet your heroes, and read about those dream courses that you just have to visit. You make new mates, keep yourself fit, forge a new interest and get to stay up all night watching the US Masters. And you get all this with the added bonus of being able to “get away from it all” for a few hours on the weekend. Best of all, you also finally have a sport that doesn’t interest your kids, meaning there’s still one that you can beat them at.

But lately there has been a vigorous competitor knocking golf off its pedestal – and that is the sport of cycling. It’s great! You get an excuse to frequent the cycling-shop and a justification to purchase a ridiculously expensive Bianchi carbon bike and lycra clothing. You get to subscribe to cycling magazines where you learn new tips, meet your heroes, and read about those dream rides that you just have to do. You make new mates, keep yourself fit, forge a new interest, and get to stay up all night watching the Tour de France. And you get all this with the added bonus of being able to “get away from it all” for a few hours on the weekend – while still being able to beat your kids!

Here in Canberra, cycling is huge. In fact there is a push to change the acronym “A.C.T” to stand for “Australia’s Cycling Territory”. Not only is Canberra the perfect venue for the sport with great bike paths, long smooth rides, numerous hill climbs (if you want them), and resident Olympians; it is also a city full of middle-ages executives itching for a sport that ticks all the boxes yet doesn’t involve a ball.

Hence, it made tremendous sense for the Canberra bureau of Parker & Partners to form a cycling team, making its inaugural appearance on March 3 in the “Big Canberra Bike Ride” – an event which raises funds for the Amy Gillett Foundation. The entire Canberra team of Parker & Partners (ie: Michael Hartmann) participated in the event. Resplendent in custom-printed lycra, Michael managed to complete the 110 km ride, raising around $700 in the process. Though grueling with plenty of leg-busting hill climbs and headwinds, it was much more a social and fun event than it was a race, and allowed the opportunity to meet other competitors and network with corporate teams, laying seeds for potential future business.

By Michael Hartmann.

Social media ‘barely negligible’ as a sales lead: you’re missing the point

October 30, 2012 by  
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Not long ago, a research report from Forrester made headlines when it claimed that less than 1% of online transactions reviewed in the study could be traced to a specific social media post. Despite all the hype, the report concluded, social media was failing to generate any results, and businesses were being lured by the bright lights and shiny new platforms only to end up empty handed.

So I suppose I should pack up my things and leave my pass and snake oil certificate with reception?

Well, maybe not just yet.

As my colleagues in the US have identified, there is much more to social media than getting people to click through to buy from a single post. As they correctly identified, the report from Forrester was based on 30 days’ worth of data – not much when you consider that 2.5 quintillion (two and a half billion billion, or 25 followed by 17 zeros…) bytes of data are created every day – which presents two problems in my eyes, and two core principles behind business success in social media that this report fails to address.

Firstly, social media is not a 30-day campaign, or a 60-day one for that matter. Social media requires a long-term view and commitment to develop tangible results. There is no switch to flick which will lead to instant business success. Unfortunately it’s not just Forrester that is critical of the short-term pipeline issue around social media, with many Australian businesses adopting the perception that a Facebook page will result in increased revenue. Why? Will having a website without a clear strategy and mapped user journey lead more people to buy your product?

We need to move our thinking away from ‘what can I get from social media?’ to ‘what potential can I unlock by integrating social media as part of my broader communications and business activities?’ and we are starting to mature in our approach. This attitude is beginning to shift, with marketers locally beginning to understand the importance of developing a relationship before earning the opportunity to sell to customers. In fact, a recent report from iStrategy revealed almost 50% of marketers have ‘engagement only targets’ for social media, while one in five had already implemented ROI targets for their businesses. For me, this indicates that marketers are still struggling to pin down the exact measures for their social media activities, but it also suggests there is work to be done in developing a clear understanding of customers’ needs and how to use social media channels to engage them.

For Aveeno Australia, the brand was looking to drive awareness of a new product launch while also activating brand ambassadors and driving word-of-mouth around its product suite. It understood its customers and prospective customers, knowing there was a disconnect between awareness and consideration. However, once the product was tested, customers were convinced and converted to using the product. Based on this insight, Aveeno developed a campaign targeting Facebook users to drive consideration and purchase, seeing a 7% increase in sales as a result of the campaign. While the sales increase was welcomed, the CRM benefits of capturing an audience of potential advocates to engage with around future product launches and brand activities was a valuable secondary outcome.

Secondly, social media requires investment in building and nurturing relationships, understanding stakeholder needs and meeting them wherever possible. You may not produce an instant sale or conversion, but you will develop stronger ties to those with whom you will do future business, both in the B2C and B2B environments. Social media provides the opportunity for businesses to connect with people where previously impossible. While your enewsletter or direct mailer may not make it past the trash, engaging in conversation via a LinkedIn Group with your target audience affords you the opportunity to showcase expertise and value with an audience where no formal working relationships previously existed.

One of the best examples of this investment in relationships comes from American Express who, through its OPEN Forum online community, provides a unique value proposition to small businesses online. Rather than trying to generate immediate sales, Amex has developed a collaborative forum offering advice and insight to SMBs, providing them with the tools and expertise to do their jobs more effectively. Far from being a one-trick pony, this community engagers influencers, showcases real business success stories, ties in offline campaigns (like the Small Business Saturday movement), and ultimately directs users to Amex products and experts for conversion. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a comprehensive social media listening and monitoring process ticking away in the background as well. This concerted effort to have a conversation with stakeholders rather than push product ensures Amex better understands their needs and provides an enhance service as a result.

Ultimately, if the only value social media provides for business is driving less than one per cent of sales, I expect corporate investment will rapidly taper off and companies like LinkedIn and Facebook should probably start jettisoning stock immediately. But if businesses use social media channels to develop a clear understanding of (and engagement with) their customers, choose the environments or platforms they are active in, communicate via compelling and engaging content, and create a sound social strategy based on listening to customer needs and wants, there is no reason why they can’t drive not only sales but valuable, lasting business relationships.

Published 26 October, 2012, in Marketing Magazine

By Roger Christie.

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