I wanted to point everyone to a new resource, B2B Marketing Zone, that launced last week. Brought together by Tom Pick of The Web Market Central and Tony Karrer of eLearning Technology, the website brings together top bloggers and topics on B2B marketing into one place.
I was honored to be asked to participate. I recommend taking a look – there are a lot of topics relevant to B2B marketers. And I hate to say this, but for PR folks out there, you can research relevant marketing-related bloggers in one place. Just one word of advice, READ the blogs before pitching!
Any other resources to consider?
My husband likes to say that everything we do for public relations is basically bull crap. I always argue with him that public relations fills an important role in how company’s present themselves to the public. It never seems to work because his point is that companies are just lying to consumers and the public to sell more stuff. When he points to how oil, car, pharmaceutical, etc. companies market themselves, it’s sometimes hard to argue. In fact, he’ll even point to an instance when a spokesperson blatantly lied to better position his or her company.
I admit, he does have a point. As public relations professionals, what is our ethical obligation to our clients, and ourselves, if we know that a client is pushing the edge of truth? At what point does “messaging” become “lying”? And do private companies “get away” with more than public ones?
And what if you see a competitor blatantly lying or contradicting previously stated comments, do you have an ethical obligation to point this out to a reporter?
From my perspective, we as an industry have a bad rap for being flacks precisely because there are some PR practitioners out there who are willing to push the edge alongside with their clients. One “small” lie can quickly avalanche into new products and features to stay top of mind with reporters, but do your customers a disservice when those features aren’t “technically” available for weeks or months.
But I also have to remind myself that sometimes the clients insist that we go to market with a message that we know in our bones is inaccurate or obfuscating the truth, then what is our ethical obligation? For me, it comes down to my personal ethics. I think we have an obligation to provide our recommendation and if the “lie” is so egregious, to excuse ourselves from that campaign or account entirely or even resign from the company.
What do you think?
My apologies – this was a guest post by Alli Gerkman when I was on vacation. I didn’t realize that I had to approve this, so here’s the missing guest post:
So, I’m sitting here in a hotel room in Sacramento, one day into a two-day conference. I’d been thinking about what to write since last week when Cece asked me to guest post, but after the day I’ve had, I’m changing direction. That’s the funny thing about blogging. You never know where it’s going to take you.
I’m in Sacramento because I organize and run legal conferences around the country–about 24 each year. Usually, things go seamlessly (or almost seamlessly–it’s hard to imagine a completely error-free event). Occasionally, things don’t. Today was one of those days.
Each mistake, on its own, is relatively innocuous. The conference room is moved and is difficult to find. But people find it and life goes on.
We notice the printer left a section out of the materials. Okay. We can get Kinkos to deliver the missing section within hours.
But then the computer dies mid-presentation, forcing a speaker to finish without PowerPoint. Now people are starting to think, “What is going on here?”
I take these mistakes pretty seriously. The speakers I line up for my conferences are leaders in their fields and the attendees have given us tuition and entrusted us with two full days of their valuable time, so I don’t like to disappoint.
That said, most mistakes are out of my personal control. I could get bogged down in explaining that: “See, after I do the final edits on the materials, it goes to our printer who prints and ships the book. That missing section was there when I reviewed it, but I don’t have another review between when the finals are printed and when they are shipped to the hotel, so there was nothing I could do other than get Kinkos to print the section and send it over.”
But does anyone want to hear that? Did you even want to read it just now? Does it help address the situation in any way? Probably not. So instead, I say, “I’m sorry.”
And I mean it.
Of course, I can’t stop there. “Sorry” doesn’t mean I’m off the hook–it means I’m working harder than ever to get things back on track. But it’s a start to building a stronger relationship with our speakers and attendees. Believe it or not, some of my best evaluations have come from conferences that couldn’t catch a break. After all, it’s easy to represent your company or your brand when everything is going right, but it’s how you react when things go wrong that can set you apart.
Tomorrow is day two and I think we’re in good shape, but wish me luck.
I had an interesting conversation with Steve Gershik who writes Innovative Marketer the other day. We discussed his recent post, “An open letter to PR agencies…” which highlighted some of his frustrations over a recent PR agency search. For me, I come from the PR agency background. I truly support PR and want to see PR agencies succeed. But unfortunately, since going in-house, I have to agree with Steve’s points.
In the end, I want a successful partnership (stress partnership here). But in order to do this, you need to be honest with me regarding your workloads and what is truly possible. This way, we can set the right expectations for success. Which leads me to
Referrals are key…
In this economy, referrals are worth their weight in gold. The expectations are higher when you’re referred by a person I trust or I’ve worked with you in the past. But don’t waste this opportunity. If you do poorly in front of my executives, it looks bad for you, me and the person who referred you. In the end, I’ll never refer you again. So bring in your A game and do 150% if you’re referred to me. But one word of caution
Respect My Process
People like Steve and I are managing entire marketing programs. For me, I cannot manage the vetting process from beginning to end so I work with my colleagues to help me in the process. Don’t try to circumvent that process by trying to reach me directly. In fact, you may lose the business as a result. And for PR agencies, would you go around a reporter to the editor becuase you thought the reporter was too slow? I guess it depends but you would think twice before doing that becuase of the remifications, right?
What do you think? Are there any other points to consider?
This morning, I was a guest on the Media Bullseye Podcast. Thanks to Jenny and Chip for having me this morning. We discussed the role of social media for finding me my job, what is true authority, and the decline of the print media industry. Listen to the podcast.
The response to my post on which PR firms hasd a social media presence was, well, more than I expected. My post received 66 comments while Jeremiah Owyang’s post had 47 comments. When reviewing the comments, you could see two audiences emerging:
- those who believe that you have to practice what you preach and
- those who believed that corporate presence wasn’t as important as much as the work that was done for clients and the individual participation within those firms
Regardless of which camp you belong to, the discussion resulted in the creationing of a wiki to allow PR firms to proactively update their profiles. To the A few firms that did proactively update their profilesm thank you. To those who haven’t yet, why not?
Overall, here is the breakdown:
- 109 firms are on the list
- 50 firms have blogs
- While 38 firms have corporate Twitter profiles, 5 firms deferred to individuals versus corporate Twitter. In total, 13 firms had individuals participating on Twitter.
- 47 firms had a Facebook presence, while 38 had LinkedIn
- 16 firms have started using Flickr, YouTube and Second Life
So, who else is missing from the list? Go to http://prfirmssocialmedia.pbwiki.com to make the udpates.
I received this question from Nathalie Seoteman after she read my free ebook on using social media:
How [can you] calculate the value of a company’s online reputation and (marketing) PR 2.0 efforts? What did these activities produce, put in figures and – preferably – in euro’s/dollars? I would like to include both the reputation damage that has been diverted and the positive/negative/neutral online coverage that has been created.
This raises an interesting and very complex question. There will inevitably be tangible and intangible ways to measure the value.
Measuring Positive and Negative Reactions
Assuming that you’re using a tool like Trackur, Radian6 or just Google alerts to track your coverage, the first thing you have to segment the coverage by what Radian6 calls sentiment – negative, neutral or positive. Once you’ve done this for media coverage, video responses, Twitter responses, blogs postings and more, you can get a visual representation of the sentiment over time.
The question then is how do you assign a monetary value to this. One way is to use ad equivalence, which is how much would it have cost you to advertise in a magazine for the same space. The obvious drawback is that this will not cover a significant portion of your coverage and you have to do the time consuming research to find the ad values. But let’s assume that this works for 40% of the videos, blogs and media coverage out there. How do you measure the remaining 60%?
The Value of a Single Customer Won or Lost
I am assuming that you have a sense of your sales pipeline and what the average deal size (let’s keep this simple, ok? =). If you delved into the content of what is being said, how many would say they would 1) hire your company; 2) never work with your company again or 3) are neutral.
I’m making a huge assumption that each person is a potential customer regardless of their company affiliation and title. For example, there are over 589,000 fans on the Skittles Facebook page. If I assumed that each person bought at least one Skittles product that cost $0.75, then the potential value would be $448,500.
You can then do the same with your business: positive = gain average deal size, neutral = zero, negative = costs you average deal size
Conclusions: Not an Exact Science, Yet
I admit that I am ignoring the relative influence and weight of differing outlets, people or prominence of coverage. I also know that not everything can be easily dissected into the three sentiments I highlighted above. But frankly, I didn’t want to turn this posting into an essay
While technology is catching up to help automate the process, I believe that there is still a very manual process involved to evaluate the coverage, put it into the appropriate bucket and then assign a value to it. Hence, I recommend that you start simply – take the most simple measurement and build upon it over time. Otherwise, you may find yourself spending more time assembling reports about your online reputation versus managing it directly.
In the end, there is no right answer for measuring the value of bad or good online reputation management. I hope the above provides a starting point for those seeking to calculate this value.
I would love to hear of how others would go about calculating the value of bad and good online reputation.
Positive Ad Equivalence – Negative Ad equivalence = Total Ad Equivalence
Potential Customer Deal Won – Potential Customer Deal Lost = Value of Potential Customer Deal
Total Ad Equivalence + Potential Customer Deal = Total Value of Positive/Negative Online Reputation
Cece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.
This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.
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