PR's Rightful Place: Proving the Power of Story

philbutler
Phil Butler Owner/Partner, Pamil Visions PR

Posted on September 19th 2013

PR's Rightful Place: Proving the Power of Story

With all the technological advances and innovations out there, measuring and proving the effectiveness of public relations activities is still largely theory. An influence and measurement test I am currently running on the Scandinavian hotel group Nordic Choice is showing not only the data from competitors and consumers alike, but just how influential PR and social media can be for business. This ongoing study will very shortly show the real value equation for PR versus marketing and advertising. 

As I type this major public relations concerns such as Edelman, Waggener Edstrom, and MWW Group already have the capability to show clients the beloved ROI. For whatever reasons are present though, marketers still rule the roost where converting "connected" customers is the goal. However, as PR professionals of the new digital age we are now able to affect the customer experience in real time, and we're almost able to show even normative effects such as storytelling and media cycles for affecting short, mid, and long term brand and visibility campaigning. 

public relations

Metrics for PR

Success in business, in our ultra connected world, is as much about community and intelligence as it is about delivering fantastic products and services. Your brand, what customers are saying about you, and how you react to their experiences, you simply have to be "out there" to be competitive. With this in mind for hotels (a business we're heavy into), I set out to see just how easily a PR firm might influence a media, I set out on the trail of how ideas can go viral using a social media monitoring tool called Mention

The other day I published this story over at Everything PR News about how we can not only better understand the processes and activity of public relations campaigns, but how we will soon be able to minutely (if needed) measure all the influence variables. What's more, without so much effort we can mightily influence how big and how far a story or business idea is spread. In that I focused on how noted hotelier Petter Stordalen's efforts at resetting hospitality values by nixing porn at his Nordic Choice hotels, eventually grew into a story of big proportions worldwide. I reported on how we played a part in that, almost mischievously. Measuring using a lightweight tool such as Mention, combined with some intuitive media expertise, affords even a small PR firm some mighty advantages. 

In order to make PR ROI a more scientific proof, it is necessary to analyze not only the fast and accurate rough detail Mention provides a user, but much deeper analytics as well. By using other services such as Brandwatch, a truer picture of "story" dissemination can be ascertained. While the two monitoring and analytics tools are completely "apples and oranges" where final use cases are concerned, it's logical to show a PR campaign's value, and each's inherent value, comparing data in between them.

In the report on Everything PR News I made the assertion that we instigated a semi-viral storyline from Norway via simple duplicate reporting and social media followup. Within minutes of being given access to Brandwatch I received an email notifier (below) supporting Mention evidence. The graphic below shows the overall Nordic Choice media visibility before the pornography story hit, and afterward via the fine tools the Brandwatch Enterprise solution provides. Within a half hour of use it I was aware (as you will be hopefully) how crystal clear brand variables can become using such powerful tools. The tag cloud above, bears special import I will talk about in a subsequent report. But you can clearly see topics and subjects factor mightily with billionaire hotel moguls ten times as important as room rates. More later on all that. 

advertising Brandwatch

Nordic Choice, the biggest Scandinavian hotel chain, owned by billionaire jetsetter Petter Stordalen, has always been on the edge as  a trendsetting organization in the hospitality sphere. But, never more so than when Stordalen put a halt to porn on his hotels' TV chanels in favor of the refinements of art. The PR Newswire press release of this news provided us with a prime opportunity to study the effects of media outreach, reporting, and social media for brand campaigning. I recieved this press release in a language other than English first, and positively affects the story's flow via several methods. various languages on August 14th, but the earliest mention was the day before. Here's my Brandwatch notifier: 

Greetings from Brandwatch,

This is confirmation that your tags or categories have been applied to 83 mentions for the query "Pamil Visions".

No. of mentions: 83
Earliest mention: 13 August 2013
Latest mention:   12 September 2013

Elements of Success

To understand our "story cycle" first we must realize not every story a business chooses to write a press release about gets picked up by journalists. Most hotel press release dissemendation, for instance, is just regurgitated by various syndicated postings, such as the ones PR Newswire, PR Web, BusinessWire, and several others distribute. While reporters do sometimes refer to releases for data or even full fledged reporting, at best the preponderance of press releases are simply "read" or either add to the brand weight, mention and branding wise.

The screenshot below from Brandwatch presents the Nordic Choice test campaign filtered for sentimetn, source MOZ rating, and it shows my most recent amplification of a new Nordic Choice story coming from THE THIEF in Oslo. With this sort of data capability one can begin to get a feel for how variables like source weight, frequency, and an overall PR momentum come to bear. In my next report you'll see these peaks accompanied by another spike, which will designate a cylical PR branding exercise. 

Nordic Choice story by MOZ weight

 To conclude this initial report, the data provided herein is by no means conclusive proof of more than an initiation of as study into public relations campaigning for the purposes of client branding. Since lauching this analytic case, Nordic Choice has agreed to help us with supplying some data and collaboration on their end. This is also true for the folks at Mention and Brandwatch, both of which have agreed to assist in correlating data from her on out. Also, we were helped through a demo with the great folks over at Netvibes, and they also agreed to assist in hammering out a very refined roadmap toward very high level analysis and implementation for businesses. 

Finally, our hospitality marketing experts WIHP Hotels, social media experts within my own sphere of friendship and influence, and hoteliers not mentioned who are working with us already, all these stakeholders are more than willing to forge a better understanding of how business can leverage not only social media, but the totality of communicative channels. And this is what public relations was always a key part of. Just the other day Robin Carey, the CEO of Social Media Today, interviewed my good friend Brian Solis about some of these very issues. Solis, who's book "What's the Future of Business" affods decision makers clear insight into the future successes possible, speaking to the Social Shake-Up conference crowd in Atlanta, Solid suggested "Clients didn't understand technology, despite spending millions of dollars on it." 

As Brian also aptly points out, "The Future of Marketing Has Little To Do With Marketing", this article you are reading and the moves into digital-mobile, it's about putting the "public" back in public relations, to steal a phrase from Solis. And now PR peeps can put a dollar sign on their efforts too. To be continued...

philbutler

Phil Butler

Owner/Partner, Pamil Visions PR

Phil Butler is editor-in-chief of Everything PR and senior partner at Pamil Visions PR. He’s a widely cited authority on beta startups, all things social, search engines and public relations issues, and he has covered tech news since 2004. Phil has covered tech and social for ReadWriteWeb, Mashable, Profy, SitePoint, Search Engine Journal, The Epoch Times, Silicon Angle and many others. Check out Phil's Google + profile too. 

See Full Profile >