Social Media: PR Better Get Quantitative 4


Earlier this week Advertising Age took a look at how PR heads are shifting towards the center of marketing departments. The role shift at top levels evidence of a larger shift for communications and PR as a whole. The media meltdown, combined with the explosion of social media, has served as the great equalizer for the PR and marketing / advertising industries.

Corporations no longer able to leverage “old media” to reach mass or niche audiences with messages are moving their budgets online to new media channels. Channels that are up for grabs in the agency world. And guess what? PR agencies have the early leg up on owning these channels.

According to the Digital Readiness Report, completed by researcher Tom Smith, PRSA and iPressroom:

  • PR leads marketing in the management of all social media communications channels.
  • In 51% of organizations, PR lead digital communications compared to 40.5% where marketing leads
  • PR is responsible for blogging at 49% of all organizations. Marketing is responsible for blogging at 22% of all organizations. PR is responsible for social networking at 48% of all organizations. Marketing is responsible for social networking at 27% of all organizations.
  • PR is responsible for micro-blogging at 52% of all organizations. Marketing is responsible for micro-blogging at 22% of all organizations.

Capitalizing on the fact that social media is relationship-based, a top PR characteristic, and that we specialize in creating content, a big part of social media, it’s not that surprising.

However, a troubling stat caught my eye on Mashable earlier this week, given that PR and communications are leading the way with social media. An August 2009 survey by Mzinga and Babson Executive Education found that 84% of professionals using social media – in a variety of fields – don’t currently measure the ROI of their social media programs.

RED FLAG. No wonder the head of the PRSA is calling out the entire industry to establish measurement  standards – Fast. The fallout of Madison Avenue, combined with the digital media evolution, is a huge opportunity for the communications and PR industry. One opportunity that we better get right – with measurement. If we’ve learned one thing from our peers in online advertising, it’s that today, companies pay for measurable ROI. While Google may not have been recession proof, it’s successful because it efficiently provides and measures ROI with its search marketing services.  If we hope to move corporate communications where we believe it belongs – into a key component of marketing’s media planning stage, we better make numbers (more than 3) a top priority.


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