Earlier this week, I spoke at the inaugural PR Show at the Business Design Centre in London.
My topic – What big data means to PR. Here’s my slide deck from the session.
Earlier this week, I spoke at the inaugural PR Show at the Business Design Centre in London.
We live in a world of buzz and hype words – social media, engagement, social ROI, real-time marketing, social business… the list goes on.
And of course there’s “big data”. A term that is creating optimism and repulsion in equal measures across the marketing landscape.
Of course for all those who work closely in the industry, it’s tempting to roll our eyes at a word or phrase we see banded around a lot. In reality though, the buzzwords (and the sways of conversations around them) serve an important role in helping many practitioners learn and develop their skills on an ongoing basis. As my first boss said to me many a time, “When you’re bored of saying something the 150th time, someone is just hearing it for the first time.”
Against this background, I’ve been asked by the CIPR to help attendees at The PR Show event try and demsytify what big data means for the PR professional.
Some details around what I’ll be spouting on about here:
Hopefully see you there
I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad sign but the conversation on the future of the PR industry seems to have kicked up a notch in the last few months. The PRCA in collaboration with Ketchum have been leading the debate/discussion on this.
This is a debate that’s always been around but appears to have more people soul searching than I can remember.
As the whole ‘social media thing’ seems to be entering into the trough of disillusionment, PR firms and practitioners are starting to wonder what value they truly offer clients and organisations. It appears the PR industry is going through a trough of disillusionment.
Something I haven’t seen by way of debate from the PRCA though (which given what the acronym stands for, we should) is the notion of ‘consultancy’ versus ‘agency’ thinking. This is an area I’ve been fascinated with for a while now in particular as the consultancy industry as we know is going through a shake up of its own.
For too long those working in PR have adopted an agency mentality – we’ll do what you want for a retained fee and provide you with the results on a regular basis. The main reason you hire us is because you probably don’t have the time or resource to do it yourself.
PR, sadly, in most circles has become synonymous with media coverage and relationship building with stakeholders of varying degrees. Agencies are relied upon to ‘oil the wheels of this process’. There are obviously exceptions but in the main this is how things play out. And it works. In fact, it still works for many.
Then however there’s the consulting approach. This is more about businesses having a problem they don’t know how to solve. In most cases it’s not about throwing bodies at a problem. An organisation has already thought through a problem and are stumped. So they’ll call in consultants to help work through how to solve this. Typically this function fell to management consultants who employed very smart people to come up with solutions to specific problems. Again that works. And still works for many.
But the landscape of online behaviour is changing things. Running businesses where the expectations of customers, potential customers, employees, shareholders and competitors are changing by the minute means for those in PR specific functions, areas that might have required an ‘agency’ offering means they now need a ‘consultancy’ solution.
It’s only a subtle difference. But a difference none the less. Setting the expectation and delivering on it are real business issues now because the expectation being set externally by industry-agonistic leaders who’s work is viewed in public forums.
In essence, the communications function is now inadvertently more strategic and thought through than ever before. Governments and public bodies have long realised this. Social networking software has pretty much forced businesses to catch up.
So what does that mean for the the PR industry?
In my view, if you’re in the strategic space you need to follow the consulting methodology. In all likelihood this means project work, developing analytically derived insights, outcomes based results and pretty much staking your reputation on your recommendations.
As ever, all views and counter points welcome.
Another day and another cold call from a automated service telling me about a PPI claim that I might have. I realise that companies all have to make money and trim costs wherever they can. Having ACTUAL people cold call only to be told no is an expensive business.
This post isn’t actually about that. I don’t mind people calling me. Well… I do when it’s inconvenient but if they catch me at the right time I’m happy to have a chat (and then say no).
This post is more about defining the terms of condition through which I’ll be marketed to. Hell having worked in PR for years, I’ve done the ‘media pitch’ only to catch journalists at an inopportune time thereby pissing them off. I know what it’s like being on the other side.
For those active in social media marketing will know, we talk a lot about the customer journey and optimise the customer touchpoints (phrases I hate). But as a customer, I feel that I should take responsibility for telling those that want to sell me something the terms of conditions by which to do so. A kind of personal API if you will
So with that in mind, here’s a typical online journey for me complete with the appropriate touchpoints (another word I hate).
Wake up (Between 6am and 7am)
- Check Twitter for Arsenal news, whoever I spoke to last night, any interesting trends
- Check Flipboard and Feedly for Sports news and other feeds on marketing, business, and technology news
- Check Timehop
- Possibly check Facebook
Bath time (7am ish)
- Listen to Talksport (unless it’s been a bad day for Arsenal then it’s Radio 4 or LBC)
- Watch a bit of BBC Breakfast following by Peppa Pig and or Noddy/Postman Pat/Thomas the tank engine (I have 2yr old in case anyone is wondering)
Journey into work (8am to 9am)
- Listen to Talksport (unless a bad day for Arsenal then see above)
- Listen to podcast by Mitch Joel /HBR/Jay Baer
Arrive at work (9am ish)
- Check Twitter,
- Check LinkedIn on any contacts I’m meeting or prospecting
- Feedly for industry related topics
Lunch at desk (bad I know) (1pm ish)
- Read latest Kindle book
Leave work (6pm ish)
- Listen to Talksport (chances are I’ve gotten over the bad Arsenal news)
- Listen to podcast
- Read book (kindle)
- Write blog post via WordPress mobile (as I’m doing now)
Get home (7pm ish)
- Watch Peppa Pig (urgh)
Evening chill out time (ie once daughter finally sleeps) (9pm ish)
- Watch TV (Comedy, drama or sport)
Bedtime (11pm ish)
- Check Feedly/Flipboard
- Check Facebook
That’s roughly it. If you’re a marketer and think you can find an gap to ‘interlock’ with me, feel free.
Since writing this post I’ve discovered a great tool built by Visual DNA that allows you take simple personality test that ascertains what brands you’ll likely be receptive to (amongst other things).
Mine is scarily accurate….
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Sun+ blogger event held at News UK offices yesterday. The event was hosted by News UK CEO Mark Darcey and we were given a glimpse into the Sun+ paywall, what it offers readers, what it means for the Sun (print, desktop and tablet) and, more interestingly for me, the Goals app.
For me there were a couple of takeaways (amongst the actually takeaways of Wayne Rooney’s biography, a notebook and a quirky USB thingy).
Firstly, it’s clear the popular phenomena ’digital transformation’ is weaving it’s way through the media industry. When the Times launched it’s paywall back in 2010, it was met with much scepticism. The world has moved on dramatically since then. We all have tablets now. Wi-fi is pretty much wherever we need it. And more recently 4G means a much better browsing experience. We’re much less ‘suspicious’ about paying for things online.
Against this backdrop, the Sun+ team is unlikely to face the kind of uproar the Times team did (Also being part of the same means they won’t have to go far to learn their lessons.) Much of that uproar was around would people be prepared to pay for news they could get for free and what impact it would have on circulation.
While there is certainly still some debate on the ‘paying for news’ aspect, Mike Darcey (News UK CEO) made a very interesting point on the circulation discussion. Yes there will be a drop off in figures. But why is that a bad thing? In the corporate world, we constantly tell brands it’s not about the number of ‘likes’ but the quality of fans. And that’s the point many media companies are coming round to. Who cares about a 32 million uniques if the majority of them only read one article occasionally and leave? (And I’m actually one of those).
My second takeaway is related to that. Brands and companies are very keen to become media companies so it’s very interesting to see how media companies are innovating themselves. Newspapers have for years prided themselves on really knowing and understanding their audiences. What makes them tick, what makes them angry, what makes them buy more papers. of course, delivering relevant content is a key component but for me, getting under the skin of your audience is really what it means for a brand to become like a media company. The other aspect media companies have is a strong sense of who they are and who they are not. Far too often, companies don’t really know what they stand for and what they don’t stand for. This really needs to change if brands are to adopt the media company model.
All in all it will be very interesting to see how the Sun+ move goes. The team have lots of ideas about how to evolve the offering over time. Now I must check out their Goals app to see if Arsenal have signed anyone….
Did anyone watch the Don Cheadle program House of Lies? I know it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I found the cat and mouse, client/consultant relationship fascinating.
Now I know shows like that have a certain amount of embellishing to do and tend to be exaggerated caricatures of the real thing however there was a term that stood out for me in episode 1 – the data dump.
As described, it is the process by which consultants pour through their clients business information to really uncover the flaws (or in their case ‘opportunities’).
It made me wonder of how agencies go into this level of depth when taking a client on? Of course a client will usually have a brief which should outline in details what they want the agency to do. But if an agency partner were to ask to see all the data about about a company before deciding on what campaigns to run it takes the relationship to a whole new level. Simply put, it kind of saying, show me your data first before I can tell you what campaign I can run for you and the impact it will have.
Personally I don’t think we are far from this scenario. I’m finding myself dealing with more and more organisations who are waking up to just how much data and information they have.
I’m currently reading a book called Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Benjamin Yoskovitz. Amongst other areas, the book talks about finding startups concentrating on the one metric that matters (OMTM) and how as a startup you need to know what this is in order to survive but also not to go crazy about the multitude of other metrics you are faced with. Although it’s written for startups, I highly recommend it for anyone involved in any time of data analysis (so basically anyone in comms right?). In a world where we have a tsunami of data to work though, it provides a refreshing approach to make sense of what it all means. For comms professionals, it provides a framework through which to tell the right story in order to achieve the right result and show (in a quantified manner) how that result has hit home.
Now if I can just find someone to shout “SHOW ME THE DATA” at Jerry Macguire style….
Following on from my last post on ‘what’s really behind the social brief‘ I thought it might be a good idea to expand on some practical steps to elevate the problem that many agencies face when it appears their clients don’t ‘get it’.
Training and education seem the obvious first step to start. However let me break down the notion of ‘training’ in terms of what people expect it to be and what it best delivers.
One of the best ‘training’ session I’ve ever been involved in was conducted by my good friend and ex-colleague Hastie Aftkhami (who is global head of training at Social@Ogilvy). I put the inverted commas around the word training because if fact it didn’t fell like training at all. It was a session on training trainers and it centred on how training session should be set out. The crux of the session was that training isn’t so much about imparting wisdom as opening people’s minds to new behaviours and giving them frameworks to adapt seamlessly to those behaviours.
The common misconception people have around training typically aligns around the expectation that they will be told what to do for a particular scenario. For instance, a new department has been given a new piece of software to use and the team who designed the software run a ‘training session’ on the features of using that software. All very well and good you might say, but the problem with many of these types of training is more often than not, the facilitators completely fail to appreciate the environment in which they product will be used. To borrow from another psychological reference, they lack the empathy and emotional intelligence to understand how they users will use they products in anger (ie on a day-to-day basis when the pressure is on).
When it comes to running social media led campaigns for clients, agencies can fall into this trap. Particularly when the client isn’t really sure what it is they want. Most agencies will act dumb and just churn out something for the client based on some loose notion of what they ‘think’ they want.
The smart agencies will attempt to educate the client on what they should be doing often with varying degrees of success and then resort to churning out something for the client based on some loose notion of what they think they want.
The really smart agencies go the extra mile to open a clients mind around the new behaviours a social media led campaign should bring about and set out a vision of what it will deliver. And naturally this will map back to an underlying business objective the client has. That could be helping them towards increasing a market share, reducing an operating cost or perhaps even increasing sales or revenue!
It starts however with really getting to know what your clients business is all about and then helping them visualise what the future will look like with your help. It certainly isn’t easy. But then if it was, everyone would be doing it right.
Of course, I’m always open to a different point of view.