Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is evaluation on the increase?

Metrica released an interesting survey this week about media evaluation in the UK.

These stats showed promise:
"Almost one in four organisations (23%) now believe that between 11% and 20% of annual PR budget should be spent on measurement, representing an increase of 9% over the past two years. The number who believe that between 5% and 10% should be spent remains about the same at 61%."
It would be interesting to know if the percentage range of 11%-20% is actually being spent, rather than the amount that companies feel should be spent.

Interesting also, the growing incidence of using advertising value equivalents, which indicates to me that perhaps some of the companies who have recently started to do media evaluation are relying on AVEs as their primary measure. It’s still a very basic form of measurement, but I think it’s also indicative of the general challenge of the PR industry - which is to come up with a universally acceptable methodology on which to base media evaluation.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Gobbledygook Manifesto lays down the gauntlet!

David Scott, an online content marketing expert, has just released the Gobbledygook Manifesto, which looks at some of the most overused words in press releases. PR professionals pay attention!

While our earlier cliche media analysis sort to look at some of the most over-used cliches in the global business media, we worked with David to provide Factiva media analysis based on over 388,000 press releases issued in the first 9 months of this year, with a view to seeing how frequently a pool of about 20 over-abused terms appeared.

As David's post points out, about 1 in 5 press releases contains adjectives that David considers to be Gobbledygook, that is, meaningless phrases that clutter corporate writing.

The winner (or most abused term), was "next generation", with over 9,800 references in US-issued press releases this year. Here are more results from David's post.

"There were over 5,000 uses of each of the following words and phrases: "flexible," "robust," "world class," "scalable," and "easy to use." Other notably overused phrases with between 2,000 and 5,000 uses included "cutting edge," "mission critical," "market leading," "industry standard," "turnkey," and "groundbreaking." Oh and don't forget "interoperable," "best of breed," and "user friendly," each with over 1,000 uses in news releases."

UK-issued releases fared somewhat better, with only about 11% (29,300+) of the 264,000 press releases issued across UK wires in the last 9 months, containing Gobbledygook phrases. Interestingly, "next generation" is up there, but "cutting edge" appears more frequently in UK releases than in the US.

I would love to have a Plain English day, where all corporates eliminated superfluous adjectives and actually communicated clearly. We have the luxury of choosing from thousands of words to describe what our organisations do...are we really cutting edge if every man and his dog (bang goes another cliche!) is as well?

Stay tuned on the Gobbledygook Manifesto, and use it as a checklist to see if your corporate communications are degenerating into repetitive blah. I shall certainly be doing so.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

An interesting crisis management case study - EDF

Steve Hemsley's recent PR Week feature entitled Monitor your way out of a crisis provided a useful case study that outlined how energy giant EDF monitored and responded to the crisis that was the ongoing slew of negative press they copped over summer due to their ongoing price increases.

All of the major energy companies in the UK were punished in the media, as "fuel poverty" became a frequently used term.

The case study discussed what tools EDF used to monitor the media throughout the crisis, what the results were, and what their response to the situation was. The article mentioned that "an unexpected twist was the discovery that the power blackout in London was bigger news in the regionals than EDF Energy's price hikes. As a result, Wynn (EDF's director of comms, Gareth Wynn) says he is now considering investing in an online measuring tool to provide real-time monitoring information so his team can respond more quickly."

Indeed, traditional media monitoring and evaluation tools such as hard copy clippings or manual evaluations, are increasingly too slow to provide true value in a crisis. They may provide a useful retrospective view of what happened, but that's too late to actually help you navigate out of the crisis - and as EDF discovered, online monitoring tools may even highlight opportunities in a crisis that would otherwise remain undetected through traditional means.

More talk about measurement & reputation

Seems like everyone's talking about measurement - how to measure the value of PR, how to measure the value of reputational and relationship capital etc.

My colleague Glenn, has an interesting post about a case study at a recent conference that discussed how United Technologies measures intangibles like like leadership, human capital, technology, reputation, familiarity and favorability.

This was very much the theme of a a Reputation Management workshop I attended yesterday at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Jon White, the lecturer was talking about how accountants have always been able to determine the value of "goodwill" of a company (which, crudely, is the market capitalisation minus the value of the physical assets), but that we somehow need to be able to break down the remaining chunk into elements like human capital, intellectual capital, reputational capital and relationship capital.

Relationship capital, he said, was the value of the relationships the organisation formed with its various sets of stakeholders. And that's where he felt PR people could most definitely add to the value of their organisation.

The challenge to me still seems to be around how you actually put a value to a relationship with an individual, group or entire set of stakeholders - I believe the concept is spot on, but I think many companies and PR professionals are still struggling to do this on a practical level.

It will be interesting to see how it evolves.