Francis’s Favourite Fictions

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Fiction: PR can’t be measured – Take 3

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from February 2008. We welcome your feedback.

By Francis Moran

As part of my continuing series of Francis’s favourite PR fictions, subtitled “Everything I know that’s wrong about PR I learned from technology company executives,” I have written a couple of posts on PR measurement addressing the common myth that straight lines can’t be drawn between a company’s PR efforts and any kind of real evaluative yardstick. I return to the topic today because I am getting some interesting comments on the subject. Clearly, it’s something that people are keen to explore.

Our approach here at inmedia is to measure outputs, outcomes and impact. In my first post, I described what we mean by outputs, which are little more than the critical path, or a list of how much PR stuff the client is buying. While most PR agencies and practitioners will set clear parameters for their outputs, too few are prepared to go any further than that.

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Fiction: PR can’t be measured – Take 2

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from February 2008. We welcome your feedback.

By Francis Moran

About a month ago, as part of my continuing series of Francis’s favourite fictions, I tackled the too-widely held myth that public relations can’t be measured. I described how, at inmedia, we establish a critical path, or set of outputs, for every project and ongoing program that allows our clients to certify that we’re exerting the amount of effort we said we would. This, I said, was a good starting point for program measurement, but a woefully inadequate one.

I went on to describe what we call outcomes, a set of clear and unambiguous objectives we set that tell our clients what they should expect by way of actual coverage by our target media and analysts, with more granular objectives established for specific program elements such as news releases, product launches, contributed articles, speaking programs, trade show support and so on. Applying such an approach turns the whole PR value proposition on its ear; instead of a cost centre that should be managed down to its minimum, a client can now view the PR function as an investment centre, and can answer the question, “Are these results, or outcomes, a sufficient return on the investment my PR agency or department is asking me to make?”

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Fiction: Public relations can’t be measured

This is the next entry in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from January 2008. We welcome your feedback.

By Francis Moran

Francis’s favourite fictions is a continuing series of posts on common myths surrounding the practice of public relations. When I give this as a presentation, I subtitle it, “Everything I know that’s wrong about PR I learned from technology company executives.” Today’s fiction comes courtesy of a chief financial officer at such a venture who nixed her marketing vice president’s intention to hire us, saying, “I can’t measure marketing so I won’t fund it.”

Too bad; the company she used to work for is now out of business, taking a genuinely valuable technology advance and more than $30-million in investors’ money with it. Maybe now, she at least has a yardstick with which to measure the cost of not marketing.

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Fiction: It’s all about relationships

This the next in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from November 2007. We welcome your feedback.

By Francis Moran

We heard this one again last week.

Generating effective coverage of a client’s story is not all about the relationship I have with reporters; it’s all about the value of the story I have to tell.

This has long been the top-ranked of Francis’s Favourite Fictions, and for two good reasons. First, it’s incredibly widely held, believed in by clients and actively promoted by agencies. Second, it is so demonstrably untrue that after 30 years practice as both a journalist and PR guy, I remain utterly gobsmacked that it retains such unassailable currency.

Having worked the trenches of daily, weekly and monthly journalism, for both print and broadcast outlets, on both a local and national level and for both general news media and trade publications, some of my strongest and truest professional and personal relationships are with journalists. And I couldn’t lean on the best of those relationships to get a client of mine even a column inch of coverage that the client’s story didn’t merit. More to the point, I wouldn’t risk my own credibility by even trying.

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Fiction: Bloggers are different from other journalists

This the first in our “Best of” series, in which we venture deep into the vault to replay blog opinion and insight that has withstood the test of time. Today’s post hails from September 2007. We welcome your feedback.

By Francis Moran

When I started this little tech PR agency, the world of online media outlets was still very much in its infancy. And an early fiction we had to deal with was a widely held belief that online media were some kind of a different beast from their print or broadcast brethren, and that only a PR agency that specialized in online media could reach these brave new e-journalists.

Our conviction was that these outlets might well be new but that there was nothing at all novel about a time-tested best-practices approach to pitching them, one based on pegging the natural news value of a client’s story and then pitching it only to those who would see that value. And we were right; from Day 1, our clients enjoyed the same widespread coverage online as they did in other media formats.

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