Cleveland, Ohio, USA
I help people and organizations improve their communications and measure the results.
@karelyneveThat's the truth. After nearly 5 years working out of a home office, I was missing the structure of an office, and, frankly, other people. Though I often am on client sites, working at home was growing isolating -- and the temptation to expand the work day (even if only to blog) was turning me into a bit of a dull boy. Now I share office space with another firm (with which I team on two clients), and efficiency and effectiveness is up. And, a very happy birthday to you, @shonali!
1 year, 3 months ago on Telecommuting: It’s Not for Everyone
@ginidietrich Sure - I have some time this morning, so let me see what I can come up with on this. Thanks.
2 years, 5 months ago on AT&T Loses Case; News Release Held Under Paid Advertising Laws
@CjShaffer1 @Ike A reasonable question, CJ. Especially for a product promotion release...
@CjShaffer1 @Ike When you buy PR Newswire, you're buying access to the lists and the people to format and send it on. The appearance on Yahoo! News, etc., if a side effect. Second, CJ, if you earn a placement in the Tech site that discusses your product, is that advertising? We PRs say no...
@ginidietrich @Ike Would he sue for cease-and-desist, or for cash? He might not care about us because we can't pay $135,000 to make him go away... The scale of ATT is a mite different, despite all of our thriving enterprises...
@Ike This is why the question of whether a press release is equivalent to advertising is so important. The first of the Bolger tests (and you have to have all three) is whether the speech is advertising. In PR we differentiate advertising and PR on the basis of whether we pay for it: if we didn't buy the space, it's not advertising according to us. But in Kasky and here, the court is assuming that it is advertising because it's promulgated by a commercial entity (at least that's how it seems to me - would love to find the actual opinion, but it's not published yet that I can find). Their view is that everything is about commerce for a business, therefore all their speech is commercial. Hm, that's a thought - all those "everything is marketing" folks have their creativity impeded if that is true - and we see one potential result here.
@jasonkonopinski Hence supporting the Court's rationale that the release is an advertisement.
@ginidietrich @Starr McCaffery @jenzings Well, ATT could appeal to the Supreme Court, but with a damage award of $135,000, it's likely way cheaper to let it go.
@KellyeCrane I agree, Kellye - but it's the wider issue of what constitutes advertising that concerns me. Differentiating between product promotion PR and other PR could be a fine distinction, as Kasky/Nike proved out. This is another piece of case law that could squelch public relations and social media content in certain circumstances.
This ruling doesn't surprise me. It's the same court that ruled, in Kasky vs Nike, that public statements a company makes are, by definition, commercial, regardless of their specific purpose. The US Supreme Court declined to hear the case, which has the effect of letting the district court decision stand. The California Supreme Court relied on Bolger vs Young's Drugs, a 1983 decision which had a three-part test to determine whether speech was commercial.
“the Court specified three factors that would assist in analyzing speech as commercial or noncommercial…[the materials] were conceded to be advertisements, they referred to a specific product, and the company mailing the [materials] had a clear economic motivation for their distribution. Each of these factors, considered alone, the Court concluded, does not automatically compel a classification of commercial speech…”[i] but all three factors in combination, however, “provides strong support for the District Court’s conclusion that the [materials] are properly characterized as commercial speech. ([i] Sprague, R. Business Blogs and Commercial Speech: A New Analytical Framework for the 21st Century. American Business Law Journal 44(1) 127-159. p. 144)
This particular ruling, however, only meets two of Bolger's three tests -- the last two. It's a bad decision, unless we all accept that press releases are "conceded to be advertisements." Plainly, if our release mentions a product, this particular court holds that it's an advertisement.
So, marketing communications/PR activity (as opposed to general reputational or informational PR activity) might see some changes as a consequence of this ruling. (we studied Kasky and Bolger in my PR law class last year, and I wrote a paper on whether blogging was or was not commercial speech under the law...)
Many apologies for the lengthy comment, @ginidietrich and everyone... It's my latent professor coming out...
HI Shonali - thanks for this thoughtful post. I certainly feel a sense of conflict when contemplating whether to make the not insubstantial investment to go to any of the big conferences. For example, I pined to go to the AMEC/IPR measurement shindigs in Barcelona and Dublin - not only were many of my Measurement Commission colleagues intimately involved in the creation of landmark principles and foundations for standards of measurement, but the chance to learn from people from outside the North American bubble were a powerful draw.
However, with resources just flowing from lil ol' me, it was not possible - especially in context of client obligations.
I find that the smaller conferences offer not only less taxing financials, but an easier scale. I spoke this week at IABC's Heritage Region Conference in Pittsburgh and feel like I got quite a lot of networking qi there. I'm also speaking at IABC/PRIME in NYC next month, another sort of specialty conference that may offer smaller, more focused networking.
Internationals just kind of wear me out - my last was PRSA in DC in '10 - and it was a bit overwhelming... Now, perhaps, with my burgeoning reputation and no doubt soon to be massive social media presence, I might have had better luck on the connections front in San Fran.
One thing is for sure, however - we all need to get out more, myself included. Cheers!
2 years, 6 months ago on The True Secret of Networking and Making Business Connections
Hey Justin - thanks for starting this conversation. I don't want to hijack the comments, so how about a one-liner in response to each point above?
1. Tweet seen: Agree, idealistic, probably impossible to measure reliably, but also might be a false metric, depends on objectives, doesn't describe impact.
2. Exposure/impressions - only valuable if you believe scale is critical, tends to discount the long tail, discounts pockets of influentials, depends on objectives.
3. engagement per tweet - again, scale deceives - if only 2 people engage with your tweet, but they're the people you most want to engage, the numbers will suffer -- maybe a weighted set of metrics leading to a score of some kind would work.
4. Retweets per post - see above - is more always better, does this discount targeted stuff, is it all more about outputs than outcomes?
5. Lists -- I like this one because it implies attention and separates from the broad stream -- now, if only you could send easily only to lists (maybe my ignorance is showing...) -- I haven't tried to do so in a while.
6. Explore this on further, mon ami = maybe the weighted metrics hold promise here. @kdpaine or @metricsman might have some ideas here too...
2 years, 7 months ago on What would be the best Twitter metric?
@taariqlewis Good stuff, Taariq. The thing is that impressions are an output stat - so even when it's "audited circulation" it's still very iffy whether anyone saw, let alone acted upon your content. Duncan Watts of Yahoo! did a huge study of billions of tweets, trying to see if "influence" even existed on Twitter. Guess what he found? ;-) Cheers for now.
3 years, 5 months ago on Why tweet impressions and reach may be the most meaningless numbers in Social Media Chats
Rock on, Shonali -- I've been at the regular workout regime for about 10 years. I weigh 20 lbs less than I did in high school, and feel great. I still enjoy my wines, but the food side has been terrific for years. As @howiespm and @ginidietrich say here, once you get into it, you never want to stop. I do 4-6 days per week for 30-60 minutes depending on the day. And, we walk, hike, bike, do yard work, etc., in addition to the basement gym. Congrats on finding a program that works for you!
3 years, 8 months ago on #MyBootcamp Update: Month One
And another thing -- it's not always about telling employees stuff. Most of the time, we need to foster discussion and dialogue so that operational issues surface and the organization can do something systemically about them. I know many companies that struggle to get problems solved. In almost every case, there's no discussion across silos, no effective relationship between leaders and individual contributors and an us-them mentality. You don't correct that through sharing information from the center, you correct it by creating a means for dialogue and shared accountability.
Good on ya!
3 years, 8 months ago on 5 internal communications questions you need to ask yourself
@firstname.lastname@example.org I'd agree with you if I had more confidence in the overall communication ability of marketers. (some of my best friends are marketers, cue grin...) Too many marketers are one-way focused, however. We see that in PR too, but by my count, we're better at understanding the multi-stakeholder environment than marketers traditionally have been. If you see every tool as a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
3 years, 8 months ago on Public Relations vs. Marketing
One more thing: Effective measurement programs touch outputs, outcomes and business results -- and some activities will more directly correlate to sales than others. In Marketing, we typically prioritize according to the strength of that correlation. In PR, we have other constituencies intrinsic to our ability to be in business that we must build relationships among. We, therefore, cannot prioritize according only to correlation to sales.
@ginidietrich Cough, cough, great idea. Writing now... ;-)
@ginidietrich Agreed! I'd always vote for increased communication, coordination and collaboration (my 3 C's of integration!) - if you do those things, you wind up with many of the benefits of integration without the 4th C - consolidation. We're trying to move the business forward, whether by focusing on leads, web traffic, call center volume, depth of understanding (of the business and competition), employee engagement, etc. The measurement of this effort typically has three pieces: outputs, outtakes (aka communication objectives, such as awareness) and finally outcomes (aka business results). The value proposition lives within those three pieces.
HI Gini - nice, provocative piece, I enjoyed it. A couple of comments:
There are a lot of valuable PR activities that aren't strictly related to sales. Issues management, crisis communications, employee communications, corporate social responsibility, to name a few.
In the Integrated model, we agree to agree that everything eventually is about driving sales, but a more accurate understanding of public relations might be to say that we look to affect both ends of the revenue/expense calculus: we seek to contribute to sales and in the case of internal comms, reduce expenses.
Financial impact (true ROI) isn't necessarily the value of our profession -- depending on the industry, the sales cycle can be so long or complex that isolating our contribution is too expensive or difficult -- why spend the cash on proving the impact if we agree that having a good halo of positive vibe surrounding us is a desirable outcome?
In public relations, we worry more about the quality of relationships with our many stakeholders -- another difference between marketing and PR is that we tailor our communication messages, style and methods according to specific objectives for each constituency. For too many marketers, every stakeholder looks like a nail, so every tool looks like a hammer.
It's not wrong to say that we need to drive sales -- we do. But that's not the extent of our value to organizations. Even social media isn't all about driving leads -- that's just part of the puzzle.
@JGoldsborough as long as the blogger understands his/her legal responsibilities that result from getting paid, no problem. I wrote a paper about how the new law applies that might be helpful. http://bit.ly/commammo11-16 Well, the post might be enough, unless you want to be dazzled by my research :-)
When the blogger considers him/herself a journalist. You can't pretend to be unbiased if you've been paid to write by the subject of your material. If you're actually consulting (conducting a campaign, for example), I don't see an issue with paying.
Hope all's well, and that you haven't melted entirely in the preposterous heat. Sorry about the Royals, btw.
3 years, 9 months ago on PR should never pay bloggers, right? Never say never…
Shonali - good stuff, madam. I have no intention of recapping my misgivings about Klout -- and frankly, I'm tired of repeating them (unless I'm giving a presentation, in which case the audience is my captive and I can begin my evil indoctrination process, mu-ah-HAHAHAHA!) Influence has a ton of intangibles, a lot of which emerge from outside the social net. I still hope to do some research as to the viability of using the Grunig/Hon relationship management theory as a basis for measuring influence. The idea is that people with whom you have strong relationships will tend to be more influential. I remain unconvinced that simply observing social activity can reveal influence --it varies too widely.
3 years, 10 months ago on When #measurePR met Klout
Jay - this has some promise if you make some adjustments as @theelusivefish notes below. Of course, we have way more data on the effectiveness and return on email than we do on social media at this point, especially Facebook. @Wittlake also asks some good questions, though expanding on @DirectResponse.net 's point, your specific objectives are more important than simply maximizing impressions. There are still too many assumptions about the utility of Facebook fans -- maybe if you narrowed the impression count only to Active fans (which will drop your impression counts, most of the time), you could draw better conclusions about value... Keep thinking and experimenting, and champion independent research!
3 years, 11 months ago on A New Way to Calculate What Facebook is Worth to Your Business
Hey Gini - yep, yep, and yep. I can imagine the conversations in agency conference rooms: "This is counter to the professional ethics we aspire to, and against my personal ethics. It confirms the worst of our industry." -- "Yes, but we need the revenue; if we don't do it someone else will, and we'll risk losing the relationship."
It's a casual kind of breach -- a gloss or slide -- that sends us tumbling over the edge. It's a false flag on a discussion board, a failure to disclose, an opinion that it's "not illegal..."
Feh. We need an industrial spine and more people like you who'll stand up and call this what it is: a travesty.
3 years, 11 months ago on The PR Industry’s Performance-Enhancing Drugs
Justin -- thanks for this. It's not easy being on the wall, even for a minute. If we preach too much, they stop listening. If we teach too much, they stop listening. If we're always negative, they stop listening. It's exhausting, even if we don't place ourselves up there -- even if it's others who push us to the top of the wall, imploring us to lead them. It's just bloody well hard to fight these battles again and again! (Maybe it's the looming end of semester talking here...)
All the best.
4 years ago on Dear PR pros: Time to take our responsibility more seriously
@KeithTrivitt @jeffespo @Shonali @ginidietrich Sometimes it feels like those of us to take our profession seriously are the proverbial voices crying in the wilderness. The news media exists to highlight extremes, and coverage of PR winds up focused on the worst of us -- celebrity gossip, political chicanery, outright lying. I wrote somewhere that everyone is looking for easy answers -- hence the tendency to grasp at the AVE straw, flailing and clutching. Research isn't very sexy, especially wnen compared to just doing something (and particularly in social media, but that's another rant). But that's what our cousins in marketing do -- they start with research and develop campaigns, then evaluate the results ongoing. We should do the same -- then we can further develop our body of knowledge, refine our tools and hasten the creation of standards. Whether that leads to licensing or not, who knows (Brazil requires it, but that just means people doing PR work are calling it something else...) I'm glad to see PRSA's recent refocusing, but the scale is limited to the US, and I believe most of the professional growth in PR is happening elsewhere in the world (witness the success of the European Conference on Measurement via AMEC, and the scholarship coming out of Germany and Eastern Europe these days.) I remain bewildered that IABC (member for 20-odd years, or 20 odd years, depending on your perspective) hasn't seized more assertively on measurement. I spoke at its Seattle measurement conference last year and we had a pretty small crowd (@shonali and Mark Weiner, Angela Sinickas and Shel Holtz, and others also presented) -- it speaks to a wider issue with measurement in general.
Apologies for the long comment -- sometimes (as @Shonali said) you have to rant.
4 years ago on What sucks about PR
Shonali - good stuff, and good rebuttal. I'm just so bleedin' exhausted having to Whack-a-Mole this crappy research stupid measurement and preposterous thinking! The thing is, it's unnecessary! AVE is BS (BSVE?) You can't draw replicable conclusions about influence from the tweet stream. Black box measurement is likely unethical (and frequently useless anyway). This all shouldn't be so difficult! Everyone wants a shortcut, and there aren't any. I feel like a sergeant -- "stay in line, don't break ranks, stay in step..." and then someone turns and runs back to the base shouting, AVE! AVE!
4 years ago on Rubbish Is As Rubbish Does
Amen indeed, Justin. We can make the same argument when someone touts ad value equivalency (which is neither a measure of PR value, nor is equivalent to PR). Say something, please! What people want is a simple way of describing PR value and Influence. There isn't any. It takes work to figure these things out, and often, the language we use is academic and difficult. This isn't easy stuff! Put on your thinking caps and you'll know it true.
Thanks for advancing the discussion!Sean
4 years, 2 months ago on The problem with influence scoring platforms
@Shonali Hmmm. Is there an element of popularity in influence? If we accept degrees of popularity, from little to great, would we see a correlation to influence? I'm not so sure - the influence differs according to many variables, and the influencer you reach who gives you a 3rd party endorsement among a small group may be ideal - the influencer may not be widely popular, but popular among the right people for your objectives. Certainly someone unknown, friendless, follower-less, might be influential only to her or his family, so perhaps there's an element of scale -- a threshold of diminishing returns? Zero popularity equals zero influence, but Justin Beiber's 100 Klout score won't help me reach more potential clients -- enormous popularity, zero influence among my intended market.Hmmm.
4 years, 2 months ago on 8 questions to help explain influence
Great Scott! You've opened up a real can of worms here.
Is it possible that none of this matters at all? Influence surely emerges from other places than social media. Perhaps people generate awareness and understanding of their personal brands on social media, but does their influence emerge from social media, or from their own existence? Chris Brogan and Brian Solis are published authors, speakers and business owners -- I have to wonder whether influence comes from that triple threat than from their blogs and tweets... Otherwise, Cogito Ergo Tweet -- Tweet Ergo Sum, eh?
4 years, 2 months ago on Why Klout Should Not Be A Synonym For Influence
@judyshapiro @Shonali Hi There - I'll agree they're making an attempt, but it's anyone's guess what the attempt is based upon. The comments on the Klout post are pretty revealing -- it's a black box, and every black box lacks independent review, so is suspect. I believe in capitalism and making money in business. I just am suspicious of a methodology that doesnt appear to have any basis in research beyond the surface metrics.
Justin, this topic is becoming more important as the cast of thousands of entrepreneurs try to develop a business model that leads to profits in the social media measurement world. As I wrote recently, http://bit.ly/commammo11-3, the most credible research I can find indicates (for example) that there's no way to calculate influence based on analyzing the Twitter stream. (Duncan Watts of Yahoo!)
Then, @shonali wrote about her misgivings about Klout becoming a synonym for influence.
All of this is conjecture - implication - leaps of faith. As Chuck H says, an influencer for Toyota may not matter for Bank of America. And, we have to be as specific and targeted when evaluating influence in social media as we are in other forms of media, among other stakeholders.
There still is no magic bullet -- @ValerieSimon is right. We need to put some effort into independent, repeatable research to see what other means of measuring influence and identifying influencers is possible.Thanks for a good post.Sean
@Shonali - hear, hear. As I wrote, http://bit.ly/commammo11-3, there's not a shred of evidence that supports the idea that you can gauge influence based on analyzing the twitter stream. Duncan Watts of Yahoo! tried -- it's situational, specific, not general and easily calculated, despite what many companies will aver. It's not going to scale in the same way that other means of determining influence will. Klout is trying, indeed, as @judyshapiro says, but until there's independent analysis of their calculations and models, it'll be a well-intentioned waste of time. Thanks for nudging...
Hi Shonali! Thanks for the shout-out...I needs must get more organized so I can blog more, comment more, and generally reward your confidence in my storytelling!
See you soon...Sean
4 years, 2 months ago on Weekly Roundup: Bees In My Bonnet
@rmpapag 2/2 AVE is hard to let go of because it's simple to understand and in context that execs get. I wrote about the paper earlier http://bit.ly/7wWvQX
5 years, 2 months ago on PR pros: What do you think about the new Media Cost Weighting metric?
@rmpapag This is one of the points of the paper - that you can use media cost in place of some other factors, provided it's actual, net of expenses and only positive. 1/2
Read the paper. It\'s compellingly written. It doesn't cast media cost as an outcome, but as a proxy metric that improves correlations. It helps drive a stake in the heart of AVE.