Did you ever have an idea and think that perhaps it is a ‘big idea’? You decide to sleep on it to see how it sounds in the cold light of morning. You wake up and realize, well this isn’t really a big idea. In fact, maybe it’s just a nice idea. Heaven forbid, some may even think it is a dumb idea! Your excitement of the prior evening has been replaced by a flood of doubt. That was my experience in thinking about a concept I’ll call Public Relations Residual Value (PRrv).
The concept is simple enough. Public relations materials – releases, B-roll, product reviews, articles, blog postings, etc. – have a value beyond the transactional value that occurs at the time of their appearance. By being archived on websites that are searchable, these materials have a shelf life or longer-term value that transcends the shorter-term transactional value. The value is related to the degree to which the collection of PR materials form a database that may be accessed by search engines like Google, and the contribution the materials make toward search positioning on the specific search sites.
Various studies have shown the majority of traditional journalists begin their story with a Google search. We also have ample anecdotal evidence that customers and consumers use search extensively to gather information and do comparative analysis of products and services. Clearly, having positive PR materials among the top results for a given search has value, although it may be problematic to assign a specific value to this.
Public Relations Residual Value (PRrv) is certainly not a primary component of the value generated by public relations. But, if one is attempting to examine the total value generated by PR – tangible and intangible, short-term and longer-term – then it may be worth considering.
Big, nice or dumb idea is for you to decide. As always, your comments are very welcome and appreciated.
Thanks for reading, Don B
For additional viewpoints on the Output/Outtakes/Outcomes debate, see:
Jim Nail’s post here and
Dr. Tom Watson’s post here
In October I attended the 5th. annual Summit on Measurement sponsored by the IPR. One of the speakers showed a chart listing public relations Outputs and Outcomes. He listed press releases as an Output rather than Impressions, Number of Hits, Message Pick-up or any of the other metrics correctly referred to as Outputs (See the Dictionary of Public Relations Measurement and Research here). Why bring this minor transgression up? Because this is not an isolated occurrence. Many public relations practitioners, even senior people, regularly have to pause for a moment to make sure they don’t get their Outputs confused with their Outtakes or Outcomes. Outtakes is not often used in the U.S., it seems much more prevalent in Europe. The terminology is confusing and is defined in different ways by different practitioners. Further compounding the confusion is the fact the audiences we present our results or requests to rarely understand the terms and have trouble relating to them. In short, the terms are too much ‘inside baseball’.
What we need is a metrics taxonomy that is easier to understand and explain. Perhaps simple and descriptive enough that we could skip the need for explanation altogether. I propose the following three terms:
- Exposure - to what degree have we created exposure to materials and message?
- Influence – the degree to which exposure has influenced perceptions and attitudes
- Action – as a result of the public relations effort, what actions if any has the target taken?
The E-I-A construct is easy to understand and does a reasonable job of describing what we are trying to accomplish in public relations. Here is a graphic that brings it to life a bit.
There are lot of possible answers to this problem. EIA may be one of them. It would be great to hear whether or not you share the view that Outputs/Outtakes/Outcomes is problematic and what solutions you might offer in response.
As always, thanks for reading. -Don B