Return on Expertise: Changing Your Measurement Program As Brand Awareness Grows

Posted on March 25, 2010. Filed under: Measurement, Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , |

For years, invariably, some presentation at a reputation conference would include a quote from Warren Buffett: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”  I began to think that the next time I saw a Warren Buffett quote in a PowerPoint, I would fake a seizure to get out of sitting through the surely tired, overplayed content.

Until I saw Chris Preuss, Vice President of Global Communications for General Motors, present at the Social Reputation Management Conference in New York yesterday.   The gist of his well-chosen Buffett quote goes something like this: “The value of information will go to zero, because of speed and variety of vehicles through which news travels today.  However, because there is now so much news to absorb, the value of expertise and the ability to interpret that information will go to infinity.”

This got me thinking about my clients over the years, and how relevant this lesson is for organizations trying to structure programs to monitor and measure “the information superhighway.”  Below is a lifecycle framework to illustrate the value of expertise for both nascent and mature brands looking to capture the effects of their PR and social media efforts. 

Lifecycle for developing measurement programs

As more is said about you online, the benefit you get from analysis grows.

So what does this mean for brands and agencies trying to measure the impact of news and social media commentary?  If you’re just starting out, there are a lot of inexpensive and even free tools you can use to start to analyze and interpret information yourself.  If your campaign generated as few as 50 mentions, it may not be worth it to invest in outside counsel.

But as your brand presence increases, your need to bring in experience and expertise grows exponentially.  In economic terms, we’re talking about “increasing marginal returns” – basically, the value you receive from analysis is greater for the next article than it was for the last.  It soon becomes vital to have a team – either third-party, in-house, or both – that focuses on absorbing, interpreting, and reporting on performance in the news and online.  Our most satisfied and engaged clients of PR measurement services from Dow Jones practice this in one of two ways: by designating a “power user” internally to deliver information to the field teams and managers that need it, or by utilizing our team of consultants to regularly deliver reports and analysis that distill news and data into usable intelligence.

For mature brands, the value gained from expertise is high, but the returns start to level off.  You need to start asking questions about the efficiency of your investment: am I leveraging the right technology to supports the experts I’ve employed?  Do I have specialized teams for analysis, or I am still expecting communicators to also be number-crunchers and analysts?  Surprisingly, many large companies cannot state the number of vendors they employ to gather news and information globally; we work with these clients to eliminate redundancies in content, integrate unique feeds, and standardize results.  This helps their investment in intelligence tools go further – which ultimately helps improve ROI.

Jennifer Hoffmann is Manager of Media Consulting at Dow Jones and is based in New York City.


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8 Responses to “Return on Expertise: Changing Your Measurement Program As Brand Awareness Grows”

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Hi Jennifer,

I really appreciate this article on how important is measurement when talking about PR & social media.

It really takes a strategic place in today’s “businessly” world.

you mention in the 4th paragraph the relative massive existence of tools for analysing and interpreting info. As a PR student, i’d like to have and use one if you possibly can send me.

I’d be very grateful for this !

It will be a pleasure to stay in touch onto your blog

Hi Moro! Thanks for your comment!

There are indeed lots of tools out there to help analyze and interpret data on the web. Of course Google offers some free tools like Google Trends that are good for understanding popular search terms. The following blog also contains a list of some useful social media tools:

You may also want to check with your university on available tools. Factiva, which is the Dow Jones product that I use internally to track and monitor media, may be available through your university. Try checking with you library and they can probably help you out!

Good luck!

Thx so much !

I guess, iam right on my way to become an efficient PR manager (lol) with these tools !

don’t forget me for what may be good for y profile

Thanxs more !


[…] Return on Expertise: Changing Your Measurement Program As Brand … […]

That’s a really great perspective, Jennifer. I think folks get so caught up in creating a measurement program, that once they do, they shudder at the thought of changing it… who wants to go through what can be a tiring and time-consuming process all over again? But you’re absolutely right – programs change, needs change… so measurement programs need to change too. I think what’s most important is to really keep an eye on things as they move along, so that your measurement program truly does enable you to make better business decisions – because if it’s not doing that, there’s not much point in doing one at all.

Thanks Shonali for commenting! I saw your presentation on measurement at last year’s PRSA T3 conference, which was great – its definitely all about ultimately tying PR to business results and goals. “The biggest stack of clips” is meaningless if it doesn’t result in a tangible business benefit.

Jennifer – very interesting stuff, indeed. I will quibble only with your characterization of the mature brand stage; efficiency is important, but many of the most efficient tools give up accuracy in return. One supplier I worked with touted an 85% tone accuracy rate as its GOAL. That’s simply not accurate enough, as I found out to my anguish.

In the effort to provide quantitative analysis, we wind up looking for the easy metrics that demonstrate only output — the trick for a mature brand is to use the data effectively,based on its experience of the analysis and information.

Effectiveness at scale demands clear planning and hard decisions about what to measure — with business outcomes at the heart of the strategy.

Thanks for a thoughtful post.

Sean Williams
Member, Institute for PR Measurement Commission
(my comments are my own, only)

Thanks Sean for your comment! I completely share your frustrations on accuracy, particularly as it applies to tone (usually, automated tone). The fact is that automated tonality can only go so far at this point – human coding of tonality is necessary when you need a 90-95% accuracy rate. At Dow Jones, our product development teams worked closely with our team of media consultants and analysts to develop a system that enables us to efficiently human-code a statistically significant sample of stories, based on our customers’ definitions. Of course, we also provide automated favorability as a part of our measurement product, because there are times when you need that snapshot. We like to think this gives our clients the best of all worlds: quick snapshot of tone through automated coding, highly accurate tone through human coding, and an efficient system through which to get statistically significant results.

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