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PR News’ PR Measurement Conference: Monitor, measure and engage with influencers

PR News recently hosted the PR Measurement Conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, and welcomed more than 250 PR, marketing and communication professionals for a day of strategizing, learning, and networking.  With speakers such as Katie Paine (@kdpaine) and Tim Marklein (@tmarklein), the attendees were in for a treat and a vast wealth of knowledge on exactly what it means to have “influence.”

During the conference, someone remarked that influencers are nothing new to the PR world; we just used to call them the (traditional) media. The more challenging aspect for communicators these days is identifying the true influencers who will have an impact on their bottom line.  How do you harness the power of your “advocates” and “badvocates” as well?  There are people out there who are pumping up your brand, and some that are trying to tear it down brick by brick.  By getting a better grasp on their level of influence, you can make a more informed decision on whom to pay the most attention.  Keep in mind that while these people may not be your typical “media contacts,” it does not mean their voice will be lost to the masses.

The days of measuring your PR efforts by number of hits/impressions are falling by the wayside. Instead, heavier focus is placed on the level of engagement that your efforts are creating.  As communication professionals, we need to stop worrying about pitching the masses and focus on finding the people who are already interested in our brands or our clients’ brands. 

Conference panelists all seemed to be in agreement that a monitoring tool is the best way to track keywords, mentions, conversations, etc. to ensure that you are aware of what is happening in that space. Turning a blind eye to these tools may hurt your brand in the long run.  In today’s social media world, your absence in it might make you vulnerable and conspicuous to naysayers and competitors. Media monitoring tools like Sysomos’ MAP and Heartbeat can help you gain the knowledge to be proactive rather than reactive.

Below are some of great points that were brought up during the sessions:

  • The level of commitment to measurement must be increased.
  • Spend at least 10% of your outreach budget on monitoring and engagement.  (Spending 10% of your budget to make sure the other 90% is being used effectively is just smart business.)
  • Use source codes on all your links in online communications.  Southwest Airlines attributed online communications efforts to $4.4 million in revenue in 2010.
  • You need influencers to play both offense and defense: promote your brand, but also defend when necessary. Having advocates can lessen or even stop a crisis.
  • “Influencer” is not a blanket term. For instance, while one may have influence in the start-up community, he/she may not have the same clout in the software world. Both are tech-related, but influence may exist in one field and not the other, so be careful.

My colleague Jon Stephenson joined me at the conference and gave a great presentation on “Measuring Influence and Amplifying Your Audience Through Media.” Below is a video of his presentation: 

Aside from the importance of influencers, another major point of discussion was how to present this type of social media-driven information to the C-suite and give them a very clear understanding of how that information affects their company. Pulling a report that shows you tracked 30 keywords and mentions is great, but will that be of any interest to your C-suite? 

Incorporating measureable action items at the beginning of any venture is necessary. Everyone must get on the same page to monitor, measure, and find the influencers that will truly affect the bottom line.

GM’s Director of Social Media & Digital Mary Henige summed it up by saying, “We know we don’t really own our brands, our customers do.”  The companies who acknowledge this will start to further separate themselves from their competition as they understand our changing communications world and how to utilize it to their advantage.

Thanks again to the folks at PR News for putting on a fantastic event.

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  • 40deuce

    Great presentation Jon!

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (

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