This is content archived from our old website. Our new blog is Trendlines.

Plus ça change, plus ça même chose (encore)

OK. Apologies for the schoolboy French.

When I started in the public relations industry, measurement (when done) was predicated on counting coverage and measuring the balance of that coverage. Back in the day it varied from extremely dumb to relatively sophisticated, with relatively objective measurements of balance, tone, and so on.

The biggest debate was whether the concept of advertising equivalent spend was credible and sensible (it isn’t), and what the multiplying factor might be because editorial was always better than advertising (x1 sounds about right).

From today’s perspective, even those sophisticated measurements (and I have the books on my bookshelf) look rudimentary. More to the point, they miss the point.

Which was to have actual influence (as defined) on the actual audience.

The point was to shift the needle so that something happened.

And so the debate comes full circle as social media take over from mass market media.

Much (most?) of the commentary on social media focuses on engagement and content. Both are crucial, but both serve a higher purpose. As with public relations, it’s about having an effect on real people. For commercial organizations, this eventually translates to making sales, and to keeping customers happy. Surely both come from understanding what’s being said about you?

So the work now (and quickly) has to be about connecting with the conversations, and then connecting the people behind those conversations back to your sale efforts (CRM systems, sales campaigns, customer service departments, etc.).

Otherwise, we’re back to measuring dumb volume. Which is dumb.



Alan Smith: is Head of Customer Engagement at DIGIVIZER.