Show me the data, SHOW ME THE DATA!!

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….

Can social media turn PR from dark art to science?

There’s no denying social media has bought a level of science to the somewhat dark art that is PR. A recent (and excellent post) by Dave Fleet offers some really good examples of how and why PRs need to stop hiding behind the ‘creatively’ banner and get to grips with numbers.

I have to agree.

(Disclaimer: My grounding is in engineering of which mathematics played a huge part). That said, throughout my PR career I’ve listened to arguments about measuring the value of PR and anyone who has spent any length of time in the industry will have dealt with the dreaded AVE metrics.

An old colleague of mine once said to me, “What’s the point of trying to measure PR? You can’t measure influence”. I had to agree with him to a point as the metrics we had at our disposal seemed largely irrelevant to our clients business.

This has changed now. Using tools such as means we can provide some level of quantitative analysis to the ‘conversation’ or ‘influence’ we’re paid to generate.

We PR types always complain that we aren’t taken seriously enough at board level. Social media and, more importantly the analysis of how it impacts a business, will at least allow us to make some inroads.

Companies using social media – another tool or a state of mind?

Following on from a debate I was reading from Wadds into how do you measure PR and a question Silky asked me about the difference between digital PR and social media, it got me thinking.

tape measure

There seems to be a consensus that PR needs to have better ways of evaluating and measuring (there’s an EU summit on it) itself and social media affords the perfect opportunity to do this. My colleague Morgan made the point that the we are converging with advertising in this respect.

But a wider issue in my mind is how clients view social media. About six months ago, I would have said that many viewed social media (or digital PR) as an extension to their existing PR channels. Now however I’ve started to noticed clients wanting support in building  communties. And I did even tell them to use that phrase!

I think the more social media tools become widespread and mature, we’ll see clients really wanting to engage with a community rather than just ‘punt’ a message to them.

If it does nothing at all, social media will at least force companies to think of people as people and speak to them rather than talk at them.