Name: Johna Burke
Bio: A PR practitioner for over 20 years, I use my expertise in media relations, public relations, measurement, and analysis to act as an advocate for PR professionals and the PR profession. I joined the BurrellesLuce team in 2000, after 12 years as a BurrellesLuce client when I was Director of Public Relations and Investor Relations at U-Haul. Now as Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales at BurrellesLuce, my PR approach is “Truth first, details second.” I’m a member of PRSA, AMEC Social Media Work Group, Measurement Conclave, and IABC, where I was also the Southern Region Chair in 2009. Outside the office, I’m passionate about my family, which includes my three Boston Terriers, and using my Seinfeld trivia powers to bring about good.Twitter: @gojohnab; LinkedIn: Johna Burke; Friendfeed: gojohnab; Facebook: BurrellesLuce
Posts by Johna Burke:
Heels vs. flats; of course there’s a difference.
No, this isn’t a misdirected post intended for 5inchandup; this is very much about media analysis and intended for those of you who rely on technology alone to gain insights from your news coverage.
How are shoes relevant? Because if you rely on software alone to tell the story of your media results, you’re potentially sawing off the branch you’re sitting on – the branch needed to demonstrate the value of your media relations efforts to your organization.
You see, I love my Jawbone Up Band and app, which tracks fitness, food, and sleep. It provides me a baseline to understand how active or sedentary I am day to day. On any given day I wear heels or flats – some days both. There’s no way to log this into my app, but I feel the difference in my legs and shoulders depending on the weight of my computer and whether I’m wearing flats or heels. My app consistently tells me the number of steps and distance I’ve traveled, but without the ability to qualitatively alert my device to the external factors (heel height, weight of computer bag, flat or hilly terrain), the app is limited to what true insights I can gain.
The same goes for your media coverage.
All media coverage is NOT created equal. Often times an outlet is a primary sorting field for many organizations, but depending on the goal, a hyper-local outlet could be far more influential based on the measurable objective. Example: An organization has a production plant in Bisbee Arizona. The media relations department has a goal to reduce talent acquisition costs by 10 percent for the fiscal year. This includes recruiting more local talent who do not require relocation services. In this example, it’s easy to understand that The Bisbee Observer, the town’s weekly newspaper, would be far more critical to achieving the goal than, say, The Arizona Republic. Unless your goals are aligned with your efforts, it is nearly impossible to show anything more than activity.
One common misconception in the marketplace is that public relations practitioners have to settle for the metrics provided by their software because they either have no extra time to drill into the results qualitatively, or it’s too expensive. That’s simply not true. In order to better understand if you are making progress toward achieving your goals (and ultimately saving money on efforts that are not supporting the end goal), you can work with a random sample of your coverage to glean real insights.
Granted, if you are reporting on only a sample (i.e. Google Alerts) of data, the challenge becomes more problematic. Without a larger purview your ”sample” could be very limited and as a result, your insights and ability to project future actions and insights is equally as limited. The ”cost” of not doing deeper analysis could be much more costly to your organization if you continue down a path that is not garnering the results needed to achieve your goals.
While I’m not a digital native, I love my technology. I wear it, carry it and I’m lost without it should a battery need charging. At the end of the day there are other factors that let me know my Up Band is really working, and those results are reflected on the scale, in blood pressure results, and in overall well-being, things which my device alone cannot provide. There’s no silver bullet to health and without adding insights to the fast metrics available, there’s no silver bullet to bettering your communication efforts as they relate to supporting your organization.
This weekend I heard a lot about the controversy surrounding money and the NCAA big games. The NCAA makes money selling broadcast rights to the game; networks make money from ad sales; schools make money on ticket sales; and coaches make millions. Who’s not making money in this situation? The players.
Professional athlete I am not, but this plight reminded me of a situation I deal with daily, in which the revenue options of publications and publishers are circumvented, while public relations and advertising firms, which rely on those same publications to broadcast their message, continue to thrive. In fact, most PR pros recognize that traditional media is still incredibly influential in building a brand and telling a story, and media relations undisputedly plays a significant role in benchmarking and demonstrating results in the development and success of public relations campaigns.
So if the media is so important, why the misconception that the information that demonstrates results should be cheap or free? It’s not Google’s fault; they’ve already determined that news access is a loss leader to advertising revenue. But if there were no high-quality journalist-produced content to search, Googling would be a whole different ballgame, and the lines would be further blurred between editorial content and advertorial, if there were a line at all.
Apologies for the strained metaphor, but let’s extend the comparison to consider what the implications are in the NCAA version of content and media monitoring:
News alert = big game is televised
Article headline = Quarterback Makes Perfect Throw to Downfield Receiver
Article snippet/link = Receiver doesn’t miss a stride, but two linebackers are on his heels
Paywall = Broadcast signal dies for everyone except those who pay for a premium cable subscription or those with a credit card willing to pay extra to watch on demand.
PR using only alerts = Looking at the final score and using that data point to determine if a “play” was a success or failure.
PR using comprehensive copyright-compliant content = Provides play-by-play analysis, and sets up brand “linebackers” in the same or better position in the future to impact future outcomes.
Those PR pros who work diligently to secure placements for their organizations are the NCAA coaches. These PR pros are high-value with honed expertise; in fact, PR pros are doing so well, the 5WPR recently reported that they “achieved record-high financial revenues” in 2013. Such success warrants an increase in fees and retainers. But if the field is empty (i.e. high-quality editorial content further erodes), and there’s no way to broadcast a message, monitor its progress, and continually reposition, it’s like coaching an empty field, and suddenly, that value is gone.
So why is traditional media perceived as no longer having value? Because the digital age made some things free – or seem so. But the truth is, we’ve been paying for traditional media content since its inception. We paid for newspaper subscriptions for decades, so why is it no longer “worth it?”
With more access to metrics and our social habits, we should be leveraging all of the information to make our brands smarter; have a world-class offensive plan. Instead, too many people are taking shortcuts (like looking only at headlines instead of the full content) and sacrificing quality for quantity. If trends continue similar to those in this 2012 report, public relations’ value will continue to grow. But if you’re not working to curate information strategically or seeing everything included in your media content, it’s like watching every sports game simultaneously on a 20-inch screen. Sure, you can see there are games – many of them, all the size of postage stamps – but in the bid to see “everything,” you sacrifice really seeing anything at all.
The advent of digital technology has created some pretty interesting debates over the fair use of copyrighted content and how publishers can be paid for their news contributions and protect their copyrights.
By violating copyright – even inadvertently – PR professionals can expose their organization, clients, and constituents to a number of liabilities. That is why BurrellesLuce has worked directly with publishers and other content providers (for close to 30 years) to establish use agreements that pay publishers royalty fees and allow our customers worry-free access to copyrighted content.
We are staunch supporters of commercial use of content with the expectation that those providing a similar services to ours should also pay for the use of the content. We are also long-time members of the The Software and Industry Information Association (SIIA) and believe that people, including PR and communications practitioners, should pay for commercial use of content. We have had a turnkey copyright compliance program in place since 2008 and we work to educate our customers on copyright compliance and the proper use of licensed content.
The same cannot be said for other companies in the media monitoring and evaluation space. Some aggregators, posing as monitoring services or search engines – depending on what best serves their position of the day – are not curating content, but archiving and hosting a database of publisher’s content. This creates challenges for PR and marketing pros, and some media monitoring firms expose their clients to potential liability.
At BurrellesLuce we curate content on behalf of our clients and charge a royalty. Those royalties go back to the publishers. PR professionals are understanding, more and more, why these measures are necessary. They recognize the difference between a genuine media monitoring service and an aggregator. They realize they may be exposing their organization, as well as their clients, to substantial copyright liability by using the latter.
The difference is best outlined in an article by Neiman Journalism Labs, which discusses the difference between search engines and aggregators. A search engine, like Google and its “free” business model, typically provides links to the original content and pays a licencing fee to the copyright owners, while aggregators repackage the publishers’ copyrighted material, send it to their customers, and charge their customers without paying a royalty to the publishers. As a genuine full-service media monitor, BurrellesLuce uses a business model that ensures that the publishers get paid for the use of their copyrighted content, and gives our customers the peace of mind that comes with compliance with the law.
Despite what some proponents contend, traditional media is not dead. In truth – it’s not even on life support. Sure, The Media has changed in scope (with the biggest decline in outlets occurring in 2009), but certainly not in respect to relevancy, and absolutely NOT in how news consumers access content and satiate their growing appetite.
Why do I think so? “A mounting body of evidence finds that the spread of mobile technology is adding to news consumption, strengthening the appeal of traditional news brands and even boosting reading of long-form journalism,” confirms The PEW Research Center in its State of the News Media 2012.
The PEW study shows, “27 percent of the population now gets news on mobile devices. And these mobile news consumers are even more likely to turn to news organizations directly, through apps and homepages, rather than search or recommendations – strengthening the bond with traditional brands.”
Our changing media consumption habits are augmenting, not diminishing, the importance of traditional media. Largely in part to how today’s audiences access The Media across multiple platforms and channels rather than simply swapping one media type for the other.
The study goes on to cite the comScore whitepaper on Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices are Changing U.S. Digital Media Consumption Habits, quoting, “The evidence also suggests mobile is adding to, rather than replacing, people’s news consumption. Data tracking people’s behavior, for instance, find mobile devices increased traffic on major newspaper websites by an average of 9%.”
What’s even more interesting is that mobile users tend to favor traditional media values even when using digital platforms to access the content. For example, “The data also found that the reputation or brand of a news organization, a very traditional idea, is the most important factor in determining where consumers go for news, and that is even truer for mobile devices than on laptops or desktops,” according to Amy Mitchell and Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, and Leah Christian of the Pew Research Center in Mobile Devices and News Consumption: Some Good Signs for Journalism.
Despite the growth of social media, the brand reputation of traditional media (which also has a social ecosystem) has more influence on audiences – exceeding shares on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, and even those made by friends.
So, the next time you read a tweet or hear about the demise of traditional media, try to put it in perspective and remember that unless you are seeing your coverage from ALL types of media, you won’t have an accurate representation of how your messages are playing out and influencing ALL of your audiences. While I recommend stakeholder targeting related to your goals and initiatives, all forms of an outlet should be part of your sample or you are skewing your data and results of a high level of integrity based on sampling. Ironically, in an effort to be trendy, some organizations focus solely on digital. However a digital focus alone, that doesn’t include traditional media, is blindingly misleading and can be equated to looking at the Grand Canyon through a straw. Sure, it’s pretty, but you miss more than you see!
By now most of you have seen the “Dad uses Facebook to teach daughter a lesson” video where a frustrated father shoots his daughter’s laptop with hollow-point bullets. Yeehaw! But have you all seen his response to the media requests? There are several interesting things about this response. First it prompts my apologies to the IT world as a whole — contrary to popular belief, some of you DO understand media relations as demonstrated by the father’s response to the media. Most importantly, he provides transparent and clear, written communication.
How does this domestic squabble translate to business? Other than being a teenager’s “crisis” I don’t know that it does, but it does strike me to remind everyone the importance of responding to negative comments online.
Here are my top tips for dealing with negative comments online:
1. Stay calm. Don’t let your adrenaline (fight or flight urge) get the best of you and cloud your judgment.
2. Respond publicly. Mirroring the original format is very powerful. Dominoe’ss Pizza is probably the best case study of this when they had their viral video crisis in 2009.
3. Be courteous*. Offer acknowledgement or an apology, whichever is most appropriate, with sincerity and gratitude for the opportunity to address the matter. *If you run into a troll refrain from calling them out until you have done your due diligence of their misdeed or erroneous feedback.
4. Provide resolution. In some cases this means a refund or some other compensation for the problem. In other cases this will mean “agreeing to disagree” on what is fair and what you can do based on the feedback.
a. Why did this person take their grievance public?
b. Was this the only forum available to address the concern?
c. What are the opportunities you have to improve your product or
service to strengthen your relationship with all of your customers?
d. Did you provide resolution to the issue?
6. Be thankful. REMEMBER: Negative can be positive. Your public response will demonstrate your commitment to your clientele. Also, when a customer is talking to you, even sometimes negatively, you are still communicating and can improve the situation.
At BurrellesLuce public comments are primarily responded to by either our account managers or the marketing team. These are the people who are closest with our existing clients and who manage the external communication and social media interactions. This post by Mack Collier further reinforces the importance of public responses and provides additional resources of how companies have fared much better when they respond to negative feedback. This list is meant to be a primer and I welcome your feedback and additional tips for the Fresh Ideas readers.