Monday, June 3, 2013

Analyzing the Global PR Practice

by Khiara McMillin

While studying abroad in London, England, in summer 2012, I had the opportunity to analyze and compare various global public relations agencies. Each day, employees laid out their daily work schedules to educate and advise ambitious PR students of what it means to be globally PR and how to consistently maintain that presence within an organization. An independent PR and digital communications agency called Kaizo aims at helping brands realize their ambitions in terms of profile, sales, market share and positioning by connecting and converting those that influence, from broadsheet media, to “mums” online. Another agency, Ketchum, is ranked among the largest and most geographically diverse PR agencies, operating in 70 countries. This organization demonstrated a few of its most successful case studies to students. Throughout the meetings, common PR terms continued to be repeated by both agencies while communicating the principle.

Crispin Manners, an employee from Kaizo, highlighted one of the most recurrent terms when learning PR. He said, “Trusted content is at the heart of purchase decisions.” Trust seems to be one of the core principles that PR practitioners must keep in mind at all times. By comparing Ketchum PR agency and Kaizo employee, Manners, it is evident that both use a wide variety of strategic tactics which illustrate global PR. For example, Ketchum demonstrates this framework by the selected case studies collectively analyzed during its discussion. One employee focused on the important obligation of global PR practitioners to connect and build relationships with their key publics. She pointed out that in order to do this, it is essential to do extensive research on your target publics. It is critical to grasp an understanding of audience norms and values to adjust a message particularly to fit their needs. The ‘Marmalade,’ “Bring Back Breakfast” campaign case study is a perfect example. During this campaign, employees at Ketchum researched the underlying problem of decreased marmalade sales and discovered this was a product used predominately by an older age group which ultimately led them to their key publics: younger folks. The agency then incorporated the Paddington Bear, a fictional character in British children’s literature, as visual stimuli during the campaign which served to mirror the geographical location and age of its target publics. In essence, by taking time to build a genuine understanding of its target publics, Ketchum succeeded in thoroughly performing its objectives and goals. Manners also strengthened this element when he explained how Kaizo worked to strategically assemble a diversity of mundane household products in a profoundly clever way. This framing technique worked to effectively carry out its goal of getting people to listen to its message and fundamentally winning their confidence and trust in the core advantages of buying and using these products. The company was praised by a volume of positive media coverage. Again, it pinpoints the high-priority requirement of PR practitioners to research their publics and compose a message accordingly to their wants and needs.

Both agencies signified a high level of global PR tactical application. One apparent difference was the degree of emphasis Manners placed on social media. His definition was simple: “A conversational medium for people with shared interests.” It really accentuated the basic feature of organizations physically and virtually interacting and communicating with people to build that dynamic set of relationships that is so compulsory in international PR. The best global PR practitioners are ones that immerse themselves in as many different cultures as possible. By the end of my travels, I became acutely aware that PR isn’t only about earning positive media coverage but, also, setting tangible goals to help people better live their lives. It is doubtlessly an essential part of life for everyone living within a community.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Intrusiveness of Data Mining Online

By: Richard Linning 

Microsoft is taking another swipe at Gmail with a campaign to encourage people to dump Gmail for Outlook (,0,6815888.story). So what? It is just another shuffle of the deck of marked cards from the “How to Make Money from the Web” game book.  The real news is that 7 out of 10 Americans say they don't believe or didn't know that any major email service provider scans the content of personal emails in order to better target ads.  In fact all digital traffic receives the same treatment.  It is called data mining. And yes, the public relations industry benefits too: SEO or search engine optimization makes it possible to better target PR clients’ messages.  Not to the stakeholders, but to a stakeholder. Is this the global picture, I expect so.  
Our every online transaction – from our social media presence, to our searches to our buying habits – is already subject to the once over from some algorithm. There’s no such thing as a free lunch on the web.  Now, the government in the UK has announced it is getting in on the act too with Deep Packet Inspection. With its black box technology, British spy agencies want to log data from all digital communications, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Skype calls with family members, and yes, even visits to pornographic websites ( Today the UK, tomorrow it is where you live, if it isn’t already happening.  The really comforting thing is that (as Google puts it), “No humans read your email or Google account information in order to show you advertisements or related information."  The free stuff has to be paid for somehow and the somehow is targeted advertising, marketing, and public relations. 
As communicators the public relations role is being taken over by geeks.  Now, as customers, we have targeted pricing.  Look at this way, you enter a store, the salesman or woman sums you up (think Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman here) and decides what you can afford – or not afford – to pay. Personal-identification-storage technology is doing the same thing online. It means goods are being priced according to you, the customer.  Once it was the inventory that drove price. For example, the guy or gal on the flight next to you probably didn’t pay the same price for his/her seat because price was designed to shift capacity risk (to you and me, empty seats).  Dynamic pricing programs have taken over from the shop floor in targeting you, the customer according to what you can pay.  We all know what is next. Tracking online behavior variables will help determine our future buying intentions.  Hang on, that’s already happening, but I guess like 7 out of 10 Americans and data mining you didn’t know that. But that’s for another CGPR posting. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

PR Measurement
By: Jaime Rauso
As Public Relations practice becomes more global, its professional community must constantly work to ensure that its ethics, outcomes and approaches are at the highest standard. Unlike the natural, we do not always have reliable empirical data to analyze. Rather, we oftentimes must rely on qualitative data in our attempts to analyze the attitudes and opinions of our publics and their reactions to our messages. However analyzing reactions is a broad umbrella term used to generalize all the steps that go into measuring results.

Paralleling the growth of PR, measurement standards are being adopted by professional associations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the International Public Relations Association (IPRA). PR practitioners are looking at past data and are attempting to correct mistakes in the past attempts to measure the effectiveness of public relations, however effectiveness is perceived. Measurement standards are important in analyzing data, but they may vary over time and space as the practice becomes more global and accepts new research questions and measurement methods.

Dr. Don W. Stacks of the University of Miami cites three issues with PR measurement: (1) confusion over goals and objectives, specifically research objectives which go unreported; (2) the varying advantages and disadvantages of different methods, in which it is often hard to choose which method is right for a specific research question and public; and (3) the definition of success? When is a campaign successful? What qualifies as success?

These questions make me wonder whether success in PR is completely arbitrary. I would think common measurements of success would be monetary gain for the organization or a positive or at least a neutralizing effect on public opinion. Yet, a different practitioner with a different public relations situation, in a different industry within a different culture and a different audience may disagree.

To create a universal measurement guide for PR begs the question whether all PR is the same. As we are becoming more, global, it is vital to understand how PR varies throughout the world and how practitioners must address these variations. I believe that a measurement standard is effective, if it is within a specific case. These measurement guides must be tailored to each situation and must acknowledge factors that may require it to change. We must never forget or ignore this inevitable growth of globalization in PR.