A .500 Average

Adam Sarner recently asserted that 50% of social media initiatives are failures. The short snippet I read was light on details and never defined success. That’s probably because success is such an individualized thing. No two clients are alike.

I’m not sure how the PR industry measures itself. I’m sure it’s not as anal as baseball, but efforts at statistical analysis are sure to progress. Batting .500 right now sounds good to me. Let’s compare that to the success/failure ratio of big IT integration projects. Their average is less than major league pitchers.

Despite the headline, Adam ended on a high note.

“When asked whether the faltering economy will mean that businesses are cutting back on this largely unproven field of social media for marketing or customer relations, Sarner said he didn’t think so, and that many businesses will turn to the Web to stay in touch with consumers during a difficult financial climate. “This is going to be a lifeline,” he said. “You don’t ruin your customers, and your spirit of customers is probably the only thing you have.””

Right on…

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Perception and Behavior

The Conversation Group occupies an interesting niche. Our clients come to us because we understand social media. They value our ability to uncover the new influencers and engage them on blogs, social networks, or other digital venues. Their objectives often require a mix of media relations and marketing initiatives. This split between pr and marketing can be difficult sometimes.

A client may have a BHAG like “increase our valuation by 50%.” In part, that’s a matter of perception and thus a job for public relations. PR deals with people’s perception of events, brands and products. It’s a difficult discipline to pin down in terms of ROI yet most everyone can point to examples of artful PR initiatives, even if they are unaware that an agency was behind the article or TV spot.

Marketing is about influencing behavior. Another client’s BHAG may be something like “let’s increase sales in our online channel by 50%.” In order to achieve that goal, marketing strategies and tactics are employed to influence behavior. A successful marketing campaign will cause more people to purchase the product online.

What happens when you integrate the two practices? Can behavior and perception be influenced by the same agency? I believe the answer is yes. This is a new take on integrated communications. At the end of the day, this is what our clients are asking us to do. Integrating pr outreach with marketing programs has the potential to drive consumers in the direction that a brand desires.

Public relations and marketing each have their strengths and weaknesses. Together, they augment the weak spots of each discipline. Such augmentation is difficult at best when two teams handle PR and marketing separately. That’s why I think The Conversation Group will continue to deliver real results for our clients. We are able to move the needle on perception and behavior all under one roof.