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Evaluating the media: June 2006

PR geekiness - the tools & techniques to gain insights from PR exposure

Friday, June 16, 2006

PR fee decided by measurement….

It was great to see Michael Bland in print, in this weeks PR Week, talking about payment by results. This has proved a hot topic ever since a couple of PR grandees decided to launch their own agency on the revolutionary basis of ‘no win, no fee’. By referring to win, there is the implication that there need to be some achievable and finite result deemed either success or failure. In many professional areas this is not a problem; in PR this is.

Adrian Wheeler and Christopher Broadbent (behind Agincourt Communications) say they will only take on projects where the finishing line is identifiable and progress measurable, ie getting a planning application passed. Michael Bland says that this could work, but only in a small number of instances. I have to agree with him that PR is one element of mix of activities leading to an inexact and often subjective outcome.

Whilst Adrian and Christopher have been around long enough to know what type of projects their costing structure can work on, the worry is that others could try to apply it to all sorts of eventualities, or even that clients submit briefs demanding this style of charging, with the research supporting the charging mechanism. Definitely one application media evaluation was never designed to support!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Online new data – a big step forward

The number of online news analysis tools has grown by at least one since last night. The BBC has produced its ‘Most popular stories now’ tool which ranks all the online news pages according to number of times they are being accessed and forwarded. It’s a great attempt and one which answers most of the obvious questions you would expect from it. What would be great is if it provided statistics on a specific country’s habits, or the number of accessed pages on business stories as opposed to the arts, for example.

It’s a massive move forward for news measurement. In the world of media analysis it is great to have a tool which sets a barometer on the news, as often it seems like such an intangible commodity.

For too long media content analysis has been driven by media output. This new tool makes it possible to do something which, up to now has been an expensive luxury – see an exact measure of media out-take. In my experience this is quite revolutionary. Before this could only be effectively measured using customised market research. Following the time-honoured sequence of output, out-take and outcome, this is a valuable step on the way to understanding surfer habits, interests and influences. I predict you will hear a lot about this in the coming weeks.

Friday, June 09, 2006

‘All PR is good PR’

On BBC Breakfast News this morning they were taking about companies jumping on the World Cup bandwagon to increase sales and someone (from the market research industry, I think) said ‘all PR is good PR’. Can that be true and in this instance, what do people mean by PR?

Possibly when people hear the expression ‘PR’ they think of some sort of pro-active, often gimmicky idea which somehow plugs a brand. It is hard to think of an instance when pro-actively placed PR could be described as bad PR, with the possible exception of damage limitation response stuff and even then it’s questionable.

The intriguing thing about this statement is that it is saying that all PR efforts are positive – if only we could get more people to use it!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Technorati Profile

Value negative coverage

There are a number of theories floating around on how to value negative coverage. One I have become aware of suggests that it takes 10 neutral/positive items to offset a negative item. We all know that the bad news has a habit of sticking, that people often gravitate towards bad news and are more likely to relay these types of stories to others (call it schaudenfraude….!). However the science seems a little hit-or-miss.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Figuring favourability

I have been running a research campaign which has queried people’s responses to the favourability of a number of short newspaper articles. The outcome has been that, for a small number of articles, people are split in their response.

In this instance we found a story which had a bit of good and a bit of bad (it can be viewed at http://www.meresearch.co.uk/index_files/SiteA/TestA.htm) and on balance the responses were split 70:30 positive:negative.

Much of an organisations media exposure is purely informative in content, lacking any positive motive or favourable messages. Where do people stand in trying to value this exposure? A name check is worth something – but obviously not as much as a positive reference, like the mention that an organisation has increased its sales or profits.

Often this factual coverage is described as neutral and can account for a large proportion of an organisations media exposure. Many grade their coverage into positive, neutral and negative and sometimes apply a value of +1, 0 and -1. The question is….if you agree that there is a value to a name check, is it fair to value your neutral coverage at a point half way between positive and negative (ie value of 0)?

I think not, and would suggest attaching some notional value to neutral coverage – like 0.5 using the above +1 to-1 scheme. I believe it is a common mistake to undervalue neutral exposure as surely the more someone knows about an organisation, the more it is valued.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Death of the captive audience

I would like to highlight the comments by Kate Nicholas in last weeks 'PR Week' on the dubbing down of the British publics media diet, in her article “Media too often skew complex subjects” (2nd June 2006). I would corral a view that the press and broadcasters are trying to deliver what the public want, as it keeps them in jobs.

The current news ‘push’ is however being increasingly replaced by information ‘pull’ as more adopt web sources. Online the agenda is no longer in the hands of the news bulletin producers and newspaper editors. Online users will only look at what they are interested in and are not ’forced’ to sit through or listen to features of educational or world importance. How many do people access webpages about poverty in Africa as opposed to David Beckham?

Kate has highlighted a growing public ignorance and rightly argues that it is a result of falling media standards. With the shift to online sources I can only see this trend accelerating. In my view the result is it is becoming much harder to get worthwhile coverage for the serious issues people need to know about.