Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

Your Communications Measurement Reading List for July 2018

global news

This month, our focus is on PR in a Global Economy, which felt like a good topic choice when we settled on it in January because increasingly, news has an impact far beyond where it happens. Pulling together the reading list this month only further heightened our awareness of how very connected PR work has become.

We’ve included pieces about EU legislation that could have far-reaching impacts into the work we do. It’s not just GDPR that communicators need to think about. With social platforms increasingly the object of regulation, PR and communications are likely to be impacted by any regulatory efforts.

One post looks at marketing initiatives surrounding the World Cup, and another examines linguistic and cultural differences that can determine the success of a campaign—or cause an embarrassing misstep. And Harold Burson, founder of Burson-Marsteller and one of the most established names in the practice of public relations, speaks out about the pitfalls and promises of global digital communications.

Global PR News

The internet has facilitated international connections, allowing more companies to do business globally. Companies doing business globally have to be aware of cultural and linguistic differences to avoid sharing ignorant or offensive communications campaigns. This Spin Sucks article provides examples of missteps by companies operating globally and explains how businesses can stay culturally aware and educated to find success in global campaigns.

Data Journalism Den, an initiative launched by The Global Editors Network, is a “new online community focused on spotlighting good data-driven journalism and datasets and connecting data journalists for news stories, advice, and even jobs.” This project aims to encourage and enable greater collaboration and conversation between a global network of journalists. With fake news becoming a more widespread problem, it’s important for journalism to be based on verifiable data. PR pros, in particular, rely on quality news media as part of their PESO plans.

From the global PR awards front, an interesting message from Ogilvy’s Stuart Smith. Smith is Ogilvy’s PR global CEO, and was also the 2018 Cannes PR Lions jury president. In a short post/video on PRWeek about the Cannes PR Lions, he first notes the difference in entries over the past 10 years. Back in 2008, the Cannes PR Lions had 480 entrants, roughly 28-30 percent of which were PR firms. This year, the awards had more than 2100 entrants, with only 10 percent coming from PR firms. Why the percentage drop? Mostly because marketing firms have watched and learned, and are now executing programs that used to be firmly in PR’s wheelhouse. Smith’s rather colorful description of some of these ideas as being like “giving a six-year-old a machine gun” is certainly evocative, but his point stands: PR firms aren’t entering these awards, so marketing is running away with the prizes.

One of the promises of blockchain technology is the ability to confirm and track things globally across processes, from bitcoin currency to mining and production activities. A fair amount has been written about how PR itself might benefit from blockchain technology, and a recently launched venture called Crypto PR Lab is worth watching. The firm, led by attorney and former Olympic snowboarder Maria Prusakova, offers clients an interesting mix of skill sets: legal, PR, business development, and investor relations–all focused on assisting the growing “crypto” field.

The Holmes Report in conjunction with the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations released the Global Communications Report for 2018 not too long ago. The post accompanying the report’s release contains a bunch of interesting stats, the biggest of which is that 70 percent of those interviewed believe the practice of communications will change substantially over the next five years–and most of those interviewed don’t think companies are prepared to adapt. Communicators list a “changing media landscape” as the biggest driver (87 percent), with new tech (82 percent) and greater access to data (77 percent) close behind.

One of the biggest global sporting events is happening right now, and according to Marketing Dive, companies are missing an opportunity by focusing their efforts on reaching male audiences. Surveys indicate that soccer (aka football outside of the US) is a popular sport with women, who find both the Women’s World Cup (58 percent) and the Men’s World Cup (70 percent) appealing. Another interesting survey finding in the piece comes out of the U.K., which reports that watching on television is still dominant–despite the growth of mobile viewership, only 9 percent report they’ll be watching on their smartphones rather than the telly.

Digital PR has fundamentally changed the practice of communications. Harold Burson, the founder of Burson-Marsteller, has an insightful opinion piece on O’Dwyer’s Report that highlights some of the promise of digital PR (better and faster research) with some of its pitfalls (undermining personal and institutional privacy, among other things). Given the profound impact digital communications can have on governments, citizens, and economies worldwide, it is now a permanent fixture in our work. Burson suggests this should be considered a positive factor—particularly the emphasis on transparency.

A recent study published in Public Relations Journal considers the role and impact of corporate involvement in public diplomacy. Specifically, the study examined how public relations professionals will need to play a role by helping their companies understand the expectations in the global environment. The Institute for PR provides a wrap-up of the study and key takeaways on the role of global PR in public diplomacy.

EU Legislation

If you’re one of the many companies that decided to adopt GDPR privacy policies even for the US and promoted your compliance, please take note: the FTC is watching. Perhaps this can be put under the category of “no good deed goes unpunished,” but the Federal Trade Commission is taking such claims as a promise to US consumers and will respond accordingly if companies don’t live up to their commitments. Bloomberg News reports that the FTC is planning on holding companies accountable if they assert they are offering EU-level data protection to US consumers; just one more reminder that living and working in a global economy can have very specific ramifications for marketers.

Conducting PR work these days means being aware of proposals that could have either a direct or indirect impact on the work you do, as noted above. Such is the case with a proposal highlighted on The Verge, which despite its wonky-sounding title and the fact that it’s an EU law, could have had a far-reaching effect on PR pros around the world. The Copyright Directive is about as dry as a title one could think of, but it is highly controversial—so controversial, in fact, that the proposal was shot down and now faces a rewrite before coming back for a second vote in September. The proposed legislation included a “link tax,” requiring social platforms to pay news organizations when linking to their stories. Another provision would require all uploaded content to be screened for copyright infringement. Legislation that affects social platforms inevitably impacts communications professionals, so paying close attention to proposals such as this one is now a part of PR life.

AI and PR

Joanna Arnold takes a look at the role of AI in PR on Stephen Waddington’s blog, suggesting that as AI improves, it will eventually help filter out unnecessary information, false positives, and fake news from media results. For those who monitor media mentions–and, for PR this is basically everyone or should be everyone—these “problem” results can clog up even the best, most highly tuned monitoring tools.

PR Measurement and More

In the modern media landscape, has reach just become a vanity metric? Mobile usage and the various ways to consume media has fractured the media landscape, making reach a less reliable metric. Brand and communications managers from Diageo, Chobani, and more weigh in on reach and how reliable this metric is. Additionally, they discuss business metrics and why these matter more to clients.

Between native analytics on various social platforms, site data collected by Google Analytics, and media data collected by monitoring platforms, there’s a lot of information for PR pros to keep track of. Measuring PR and communications efforts is vital, but only if you’re tracking metrics that matter. Collecting and reporting on every available metric fails to provide your organization with the data and insight it needs to make informed decisions. This Hubspot guide outlines 15 key metrics in YouTube Analytics and the value they provide.

People’s concerns about the privacy of their personal data tends to relate to social media and smartphones, but, increasingly, data is being collected from internet-connected televisions. Marketers then pay the companies collecting this information, allowing them to send targeted advertisements to consumers’ other internet-connected devices. This New York Times article highlights one of the largest companies collecting viewer information, the specific data they’re actually collecting, and why this practice raises concerns about data privacy.

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the Director of Marketing Communications for CARMA. She is also the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for more than 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR, content creation, digital and social communications, and media analysis.
Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips
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