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Measurement Week Interviews: Mark Stouse

Friday, September 26th, 2014
Measurement Week Interview Mark Weiner BurrellesLuce Media Monitoring PR Software Public Relations Media Measurement Press clipping

flickr user HeavyWeightGeek under CC BY

Last week was AMEC’s International Measurement Week, and to honor it, we reached out to some of the top measurement experts to get their take on measurement dos and don’ts, common mistakes, and how they found themselves a member of the Measurati. We got such an enthusiastic response that we’re extending our celebration to include all their answers. We’ll be running their answers all this week, and be sure to check out our latest newsletter for measurement insights from 11 other experts in the field.

Let’s hear from today’s featured expert, Mark Stouse, creator of the Influence Scoring System.

What is your “measurement moment,” the time you knew your career was becoming measurement-focused?

My “measurement moment” happened in 1992 when I left the profession and agency life, a departure I assumed at the time was forever. I moved into a series of business roles, including sales, product development, and ultimately leader of a new business that I created in the defense sector.

Looking back, it is clear to me that this decision to join the business was the best investment I ever made in my marketing and communications career. Its impact on me has proven as indelible as any tattoo.

I got a very intense education in what it means to be in business. For example, I gained a new appreciation for what it meant to make quota, not just in the conventional sales sense, but also as a leader who had to make payroll. My vision of things became significantly enlarged. I began to understand how hard it is for a CEO to balance everything that a business is, particularly all of those often zero-sum investment choices that must be made in a rapidly growing enterprise.

I began to see life through the eyes of a business leader, because that’s what I had become. Today, that perspective still is very present in my conversations with CEOs and other leaders, even though I earned it years ago in a much smaller company.

I sold the company in 1999, and I re-entered the profession on the agency side. But I had changed dramatically. From that point forward, I operated as a business leader who happened to specialize in marketing and communications. The result was a completely different approach, one that focused – above all things – on connecting marketing and communications investment to business drivers.

Today, I’m pleased to say that we’ve done it.   We have a proven methodology, manifested in a cloud-based platform that correlates investment in Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned (PESO) channels to both functional outcomes and business impact, including revenue, margin and cash flow. But to be honest, I doubt very much that I would have pursued those connections to business impact if I had not first discovered what it means to be in business instead of just being in a business.

What is your proudest measurement moment?

In 2008, it became clear that the Influence Scoring System (ISS) actually worked, not just at the marketing and communications level but with the CxOs that was designed for in the first place. The system showed for the first time that it could tie investment in both Earned and Shared programs to both functional outcomes and CFO-certified business impact.

It didn’t take long for ISS to start receiving tangible recognition. Based on its data, we received large increases in our budgets during the depths of the recession. Later, it won a BMC Innovation Award – it was the first time that anything outside of the company’s product line had won the award. In 2014, ISS was recognized as the Innovation of the Year in Marketing and Communications, and then it received the Holmes Report Diamond SABRE Award this past May in New York City. We had come a long, long way.

What is your most important piece of measurement advice?

There are several important pieces of advice. First, start with the business KPIs and drill down into your function. Anything else is classic “inside-out” thinking and will not get you where you need to go.

Second, remember that the C-suite only cares about the past if that data strongly suggests what’s going to happen next. If it doesn’t do that, you’re wasting their time and yours too. Third, get clear on what ROI is and is not. By definition, ROI is a cash-on-cash number, so it applies to business metrics like revenue, margin and cash flow. The number of impressions you racked up last quarter is not the ROI on the investment you made to get them.

What’s the most common measurement mistake you encounter?  

Reporting out again and again and again on metrics and KPIs that business leaders don’t care about. When they see that you actually use them to run your function, it dawns on them just how disconnected you are from everything about the business. That’s why you have no “seat at the table” during normal business hours.

Tell us a breakthrough story, in which you took your company from metrics to KPIs.

I joined BMC Software in early 2006 to lead Communications. The team was the “tail on the dog” inside the company. We were order takers and the last people in the company to know anything. The team’s only metric was a quarterly clip book, and even that was not exactly anything to brag about.

Soon after, however, we replaced the incumbent agency with Waggener Edstrom, and we immediately began to publish a standard report of coverage and the common metrics we all know so well: volume, tone, reach, share of voice, etc.

In early 2007, I presented my thinking about a new system to the executive team, one that would begin to connect the dots and demonstrate progressively stronger correlations between their investment in Comms and our business impact. They gave it the thumbs up, though even they didn’t see how it could be actually implemented.

But by the end of 2008, we had moved well past the retrospective view into the ability to accurately forecast of our future performance. We also showed an ability to understand, calibrate and manage our opportunity cost, ensuring that a lot more of the money we were spending “ended up on the screen,” as they say in Hollywood.

As the data rigor in the system began to deepen and strengthen, our conversation with the C-suite and the sales teams began to change rather dramatically. By 2009, we were launching nascent connections between ISS and sales data. Our first success was in demonstrating how, why and to what extent we were helping to drive faster sales velocity. Everyone looked at the logic path and the data connections and said “Wow!” Actually, it was more colorful and emphatic than that, but you get the point.

And from that point forward, we were off to the races.

What do you see as measurement’s biggest challenge ahead?

It sounds like a simplistic answer, but we have too many people in marketing and PR who chose the profession because they were not good at math. We spend time asking “Is the PR profession creative enough?” when we should be asking, “Do you understand how your business makes money?”

I see a lot of people in marketing and communications today who are real scared of measurement and the accountability that goes with it. This aversion to data and the language of the business world is the single most destructive thing in our profession today. It’s time to do what is necessary to get over that fear.

There’s been a lot of work done at the tactical end of things to try to standardize marketing and communications metrics. But the only standards that are determinant here are the standards of the business. Several years ago, a really famous tech CEO said to me: “Your colleagues need to understand that we (business leaders) expect marketing and communications to understand our standard of proof and meet it, not develop their own.”

Bonus question: You just won the lottery. What’s your dream job?

I’m an innovator. I’ve been one all my life. My 8th grade teacher wrote “Innovator = Big Helper” next to my name in the yearbook, and that’s really how I think about it.

One day, I’d like to apply that bent – and all I’ve learned about how to innovate – in the service of humanity. For that reason, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a very special attraction for me. Not only for the work they do, but for the way they have disrupted philanthropy by driving a very strong tie between their investment and real impact on the ground.

When I look at what they’ve accomplished, it pushes all of my buttons.


Measurement Week Interviews: Roxane Papagiannopoulos

Thursday, September 25th, 2014
Measurement Week Roxane Papagiannopoulos Frank Ovaitt BurrellesLuce Public Relations PR Institute for Public Relations Media Measurement Media Monitoring Press Clipping

flickr user Pink Sherbet Photography under CC BY

Last week was AMEC’s International Measurement Week, and to honor it, we reached out to some of the top measurement experts to get their take on measurement dos and don’ts, common mistakes, and how they found themselves a member of the Measurati. We got such an enthusiastic response that we’re extending our celebration to include all their answers. We’ll be running their answers all this week, and be sure to check out our latest newsletter for measurement insights from 11 other experts in the field.

Let’s hear from today’s featured expert, Roxane Papagiannopoulos, President at RMP Analysis.

What is your “measurement moment,” the time you knew your career was becoming measurement-focused?

Assomeone who always wants to know the answer to the ‘Why?”/ “How?” question it was inevitable that I ended up where I am. While I was employed by Vocus one of my clients challenged me with how to wring more out of that software. The goal was to provide data to the PR team that they could use to improve their tactics and performance. Once I walked through that door I found my zone and have never looked back.

What is your proudest measurement moment?

My proudest moment was the decision to start my own business. The experience has opened up more opportunities to service customers individually.

What is your most important piece of measurement advice?

Getting started in a new measurement effort or starting one where none existed is stressful. Find a vendor partner who is going to work with you to uncover the reality versus what will make the vendor or you just look good. Ask to see some of their work and explain how it will relate and can translate to your industry/business efforts.

What’s the most common measurement mistake you encounter?

Valuing counts over insights. All too often PRs look at number of mentions as a measure of success “Look at how many outlets picked up this story!” – so what? As well as impressions multipliers (painful).

Tell us a breakthrough story, in which you took your client from metrics to KPIs.

My client was in a crisis situation and the news stream was completely negative toward the company. Internally there was a debate on the process of how to handle crisis situations. On one side we, along with several of the PR team, were advocating the customer put out a statement and address the issue at hand to end the news cycle and allow customers to focus on the positive company efforts.

On the other side the stalwarts were advocating to be quiet and it will go away (really shocking, but this is how crisis were handled for a long period of time.) Using metrics we were able to demonstrate the news cycle would be curbed or ended if the company simply addressed the issue. This allowed us to gain support to present the evaluation of qualitative outcomes tied to reputation change, deposit volumes and product sales.

What do you see as measurement’s biggest challenge ahead?

The question indicates that measurement has made progress, however that is the challenge in my opinion in the PR/Corp Comm space. The industry is very slow to implement measurement practices.

Bonus question: You just won the lottery. What’s your dream job?

You hear people say “I wouldn’t quit my job” all the time when asked this question. The truth? I would quit, not because I don’t love what I do but there is a cause that would benefit more from the lottery winnings that would require 100 percent of my time. My dream job would be to set up a honeybee sanctuary in as many states as possible (I’m a beekeeper). Don’t doubt it…metrics would be an integral part of the effort. Ask me in person sometime and I’ll talk your ear off.


Here’s the Media Monitoring Checklist That Will Enhance or Replace RFPs

Monday, July 21st, 2014

PR RFP Checklist Ellis Friedman BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas Public Relations Media MonitoringThe formal RFP process is time- and resource-intensive for both the requestor and the requestee, and in the search for the right media monitoring and analysis package, more public relations professionals and organizations either don’t have the resources, or are choosing to allocate them elsewhere, therefore making final decisions based on partial data.

To strengthen the ability to make a quick, at-a-glance comparison of media monitoring and analysis services, BurrellesLuce has created this free RFP resource, which consolidates the most important and frequently-asked questions that arise during the search process. This includes checklists for print monitoring, online monitoring, broadcast coverage, self-guided search, software, automated analysis, custom qualitative and custom quantitative analysis, services, and rates.

To help you make an informed decision that fits your needs, there are columns to compare media monitoring and analysis services and what they offer.

And because all good measurement strategies start with measurable goals, the first section is designed to help you outline your measurable goals, your audience, and your needs.

This media relations and PR RFP resource is designed to make the lives of public relations and media relations professionals easier, so click here to download this free resource.


What to Do on Your Digital Detox

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Leave those devices behind

Leave those devices behind

Digital detoxes are all the rage, so you’ve disconnected wifi, silenced your devices, and put them out of sight and reach. Finally, you can be productive.

Now what? Whether you’re unplugging for a day or a week, the best way to take advantage of your newfound unplugged time is to know what the goal of unplugging is in the first place. Is it to brainstorm new ideas, forcibly manage your time, relax and recharge, or reconnect with a hobby? Your goal defines how to use your unplugged time.

Here are three ways to take advantage of your status as digital hermit and achieve your goal of getting it done or getting away from it all.

Free write

If your goal is to brainstorm, set aside time to sit down with a pen and paper for at least ten minutes and write whatever comes into your head. It’s helpful if it is related to what you want to work on, but it’s not mandatory.

This is an exercise I used to do at a writing retreat (and an exercise I should do more often), and it helps to loosen your thinking muscles – think of it as a warm-up to your productivity workout. Often, in what you wrote you’ll find a nugget, a great idea you hadn’t thought of before, which makes working that much smoother and more productive.

It’s important that during this exercise, you do your best not to judge what you write as “stupid” or “pointless.” It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you write something and get your brain whirring in a non-digital medium.

Savor the silence

So you want to relax and recharge; it’s not always as easy as you hope it will be. To keep from feeling unmoored once you unplug, think of what you do on vacation. Do you read, take a walk, nap, meditate, or play a sport? Do that!

If you’ve been so busy that you’ve forgotten how you unwind, you definitely need this unplug time, so don’t give into the digital withdrawal you’ll likely experience. The free writing exercise can help you relax your mind, but if you don’t want silence, consider reaching out (via telephone, not email or text!) to friends or family for a social visit (sans digital device). This can help you ease in to your unplugged state by constructively and beneficially occupying your mind.

Do your best not to give in to the voice that tells you you have to do something. Being connected tricks us into thinking we can do something all the time; connecting to the world outside your screen is doing something.

Manage withdrawal – or the dread of reconnecting

You may experience withdrawal, but the plus side is that it probably won’t last for long; people who are forced to disconnect often find their unplugged lives to be much more vivid and refreshing. If you feel withdrawal, put your device well out of reach. Some heavy Internet users experience a significant drop in mood once they’re disconnected, so keeping yourself occupied with friends or activities can help lessen that. If you’re only disconnecting for an hour or two – or even for 24 – moving to an unconnected area won’t rely solely on your willpower.

Chances are, you’ll unplug and never wish to go back. Unless your career and lifestyle can support that, it probably won’t happen, but you can commit to using your devices less. Delete social media apps from your phone and only connect on a computer; turn off notifications and only check email at designated times; or install an app on your computer that forcibly blocks you from the Internet.

How do you take advantage of your unplugged time?

Convergence Journalism: How Does it Affect PR and Media Relations?

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Convergence Journalism: How Does it Affect PR and Media Relations? Tressa Robbins BurrellesLuce Fresh IdeasThe oldest school of journalism in the United States (and possibly in the world), University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, added its first new major in 50 years when it added Convergence Journalism back in the fall of 2005. Over the past several years, news consumers have witnessed a revolution take place whereby we consume news stories via multiple platforms (traditional, digital, social) and in various formats such as long-form, short-form, textual, auditory, visual, formal/professional reporting, citizen reporting.

I recently attended a convergent media panel event (hosted by PRSA St. Louis) which featured Kelsey Proud with St. Louis Public Radio, Caryn Tomer with, and Perry Drake (formerly of NYU) now with UMSL.

Proud started off with showing a perfect example of media convergence in a story they’ve just produced on chronic absenteeism in schools across Missouri. In this series, they utilized audio (radio), research/analytics, data, dynamic visuals and text.

Tomer discussed tailoring the story presentation to what their readers want. The staff likes (pertinent) press releases but may also use video, audio, text, social, linkbacks and even gamification to enhance the user experience.

All seemed to agree on how they decide what content makes it. Of course, it has to matter to their audience but beyond that—it’s all about emotion and reactions.

As the late Maya Angelou said:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How does this affect PR pitching/media relations efforts?

By now, most savvy PR pros know multimedia storytelling is no longer optional—it’s a necessity.

  • We must adapt and be flexible. Stories need to be told in different ways depending on the medium.
  • PR is no longer just accountable for the message—we’re now depended on for choosing the most effective modes and channels.
  • Effective public relations outreach does still include traditional media pitching (newspapers, magazines, television, radio) but may also include social media marketing, blogs, content marketing, web development and analytics, graphic design, SEO, and emerging technologies we aren’t even aware of yet.
  • Don’t be afraid to partner and/or collaborate as necessary. If you are ill-equipped in a certain area, take advantage of the opportunity to learn and expand your skill set!
  • This new media model is dynamic – making it fluid and spontaneous, requiring PR pros to be quick on their feet and adept at managing communities, not just a message.

How do you see multimedia journalism affecting your job?