Can You Sell PR Measurement to Your Dumb-Ass Boss?

I love it when I get to read really smart analysis (thanks, Twitter) and love it even more when it comes from two smart people, Katie Payne and Todd Defren.

Todd blogged about this yesterday, but he and Katie had an exchange in which Katie commented on one of Todd’s recent posts about isolating public relations vs. marketing efforts. For those of us who have struggled with this, it’s hard – first of all, from a turf perspective. Marketing will want to claim credit for sales or brand awareness, and public relations will want to say that they are the air cover for the ground war — they created “awareness” which helped the marketing and sales people in the end. In Katie’s newsletter, she commented on Todd’s POV:

“Another popular reason that PR/SM ‘can’t be measured’ is that, ‘You can’t isolate PR from everything else the organization is doing!’ But yes, in fact, you can. It might take some coordination with advertising, or some sophisticated ANOVA (Analysis of Variance) but it can be done, and is being done every day. (Measurement is) hard … particularly for the math-phobic PR folks. It requires calculations and analytics and a bunch of things that PR people hate.”

Yout both are tight. Measurement IS hard. I hate math. Hell, I am adjunct faculty at Georgetown and got a “D” in the one undergrad math class that I took.

Damn Those Obstacles!

One of the texts in my class is the Bible of PR Measurement, Katie’s “Measuring Public Relationships.” All of that mathy stuff can, in fact, get done and made into pretty PowerPoint slides that anyone can understand. The fact that it can be done often runs into the immovable force of it will get done.

For what Todd and Katie are discussing, I see two major obstacles: human and fiscal capital.

By “human capital” I mean you have to find someone who not actually gets this stuff, but who is also committed to the idea that you can indeed offer precise measurements of public relations, marketing and other communications efforts — and isolate each one.

By “fiscal capital,” it’s more obvious, but most of the medium and small businesses (and even some of the large ones that I worked with in my 15 years on the agency side) can’t afford or don’t understand why they need to shell out the bucks for an outside firm like Katie’s. Katie – I have no idea what your billing rates are, so please don’t flame me!

There is astronomical value in measuring communications efforts. The hard part is very much related to a post that I wrote last week: “How To Sell Social Media to Your Dumb-Ass Boss.” It’s frustrating when you see the real value of something — and how it has the potential to really impact your business — and you get the “deer in the headlights” look from the people in the corner office.

In retrospect, maybe I’ll start a series of posts called “How to Sell REAL Public Relations Measurement to Your Dumb Ass Boss.”

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


How to Sell Social Media to a Dumb-Ass Boss

With so many new followers today, I’m feeling the pressure to, as Jason Falls said, be “freakin’ brilliant.”  Good thing that I checked out a post by one of my new tweeps, Andrea Goulet.  Her post was “How to Beat Writer’s Block.”  Tried a few of the tactics, but going for a walk when it’s 18 degrees outside in the Nation’s Capitol..not so much.

So..on to the subject.  We have all been there.  You have killer ideas that can save your company money, your competitors are all doing it — and all you need to do is get the ok from your boss (or, as I say in the title, what many of us have muttered under our breaths after a frustrating meeting, (“dumb-ass”) to implement a blog (internal or external), a podcast, Twitter, use You Tube, Facebook, hell, even an .rss feed.

And then you get “The Look.”

We’ve all seen it.  It’s something between hearing that Santa Claus isn’t real and the look on Dan Quayle’s face when Lloyd Bentsen said “”Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”  Too often than not, when those above you (or your clients), exhibit that look, you need to think fast or watch your social media dreams go up in flames.  So here are a few tips that might help you think fast before “The Look” becomes a “no.”

  1. Knowing and reacting. It’s simple and unquantifiable, but the there is likely already conversation going on about your company/clients, their products, issues, executives and value — it’s already happening.  Here’s the simple part:  you can choose to be part of it or choose to ignore it.  So when someone blogs about you, good or bad, have a monitoring system in place and rules in place for if — or even when — to engage. I have written about monitoring reputation management ad nauseum, but the first step in engaging in the conversation is to know what people are saying about you, and who really matters.  It doesn’t have to cost a ton to monitor, and even Twitter search has an .rss output now.  No excuses.And here’s a little tip to help simplify it:  Mr/Mrs. Dumb-Ass:  if you walked out of the building and heard someone trashing our company, wouldn’t you engage that person in conversation to offer your points of view?  Would you just let it go? What we’re talking about is no different.
  2. Projecting your point of view. If you are reading this blog, you probably already have a pretty good idea of the arsenal that is available to project your company’s/client’s/executives’ view into cyberspace, so I won’t spent a lot of time on the tools and tactics.  Most CEO-types are bottom-line oriented, so if you can make can intelligent case about cost-per-contact (CPC) — talked about brilliantly in Katie Payne’s book “Measuring Public Relationships,” you have a winner.For example, let’s say so implement a Twitter feed.  The only cost, really, is your time to set it up and monitor it.  If you make $60,000 a year (plus benes and work 2,000 hours a year), that’s going to be about $45 per hour.  If you spend an hour a day on Twitter and build up a network of contact of 500 followers, your CPC is going to be about $22.50  ($11,250/500).  Compare this to advertising (which you can’t appropriately measure, only guess, earned media or paid media, which again you can’t appropriately measure) and the $22.50 cost per contact is pretty darn good.  And this is only measuring the cost per acquiring each contact and does not add in the value of the conversations that are taking place via Twitter throughout the year.  And especially in a down economy, CPC is more important than ever.And one final note:  I maintain a Twitter account for my day job and can tell you that the vast majority of the major “traditional” news outlets are on it -watching what my employer has to say.
  3. You can’t always have the ROI you want. I am directly lifting this from a must-listen “For Immediate Release” podcast in which Mark Ragan led a group of social media experts through a fascinating panel in which he pretended to be the “Dumb-Ass CEO,” and Shel Holtz discussed blogging.  Mark Ragan challenged: “You better be precise.  I’m busy.  Why is it that I need to launch this blog, which I don’t even know what it is.”  Sound familiar?  Shel had a great answer.  He said that many companies still invest in things like taking key customers to golf club memberships, greens fees, etc. to build relationships, and we don’t measure that, right?  Everyone gets that you are building solid relationships with these people in the golf course, and not one ever challenges that, right? The basis of social media, like blogs, is developing relationships.  You can’t always measure everything — and you have to be at peace with that.
  4. Blogging baby steps. A lot of time, you have to take steps that are not 100 percent of what you want to begin with, so there are a couple of things you can do in the meantime.  First, talk to your boss about starting an internal blog — something that is apart from that God-awful intranet that you have.  Start slowly by talking to your employees – the people who are your brand and company ambassadors, and you might discover that you are ready for prime time — taking it to the “outside world” after all.And a tactic that I have done more often than not, start a test blog.  Mock it up, don’t make it public, but if you have just a few moments to capture the time and attention of a senior executives, pictures and clicks are worth a 1,000 arguments.  While Mr./Mrs. Dumb-Ass CEO is clicking through the blog, you can make your case about the fact that businesses are built on relationships — and having a blogging platform is a fantastic way to have a parallel set of relationships with your internal or external audiences.
  5. Beware of the roadblocks. People hate change.  Especially people who have been doing it one way for a long time.  If you are attempting a “paradigm shift” (100 points for bullshit bingo, which I won on the “Hobson and Holtz Report: #399), talk to the people who might try to stand in your way.  My experience tells me that there are two prospective deal-killers in an organization:  IT and legal.When the Internet was for propeller-heads, IT owned it.  It was theirs, and we “communicators” simply did not get it.  And now we want to OWN IT???  Try a quiet, discreet conversation with someone reasonable (and high up) in IT to get buy-in on a shared project.And legal?  I have climbed this mountain so many times I have no fingernails left.  But here is my two cents, and it is pretty simple.  The right way to go about is is to start the conversation with “How can we do this?”  The wrong way is “Can I do this?”  Make the question about what THEY need to do to collaborate and make this a reality and don’t give legal any manuevering room to kill something.  Sure, there will be disclaimers (be smart and cut and paste the disclaimer statement from a competitor and bring it to your meeting), but frame and conversations in terms of HOW it can be accomplished, not IF it can be accomplished.

I could go on and on (and likely will in future posts), but I use the “Dumb-Ass CEO” is a joking fashion, simply as an attention-getting device and likely direectly quoting many people who have tried the above.

But it’s not all about me;  I would love to hear from others who have tried, succeeded or even failed when you get the “Dan Quayle in Headlights” look.


Where Online REALLY Intersects With Offline – thanks @jasonfalls

I’ve had a pretty good “offline” week that is a direct result of a pretty good online week.

Last Saturday, I “celebrated” a birthday (anyone over 40 puts “celebrate” in somewhat sarcastic quotations), but I must have received more than 30 birthday wishes via Facebook and Twitter.  Although I don’t use it, I understand that Facebook has a little reminder when your friend’s birthday is near.  That’s all well and good, but you still have to take the “offline” initiative to say “Hey, Mark’s a decent guy, I’ll send him birthday greetings.”  And I appreciated every single one.  Online wishes made offline happiness.  And then there was today.

My pal and social media guru Jason Falls made the following post on Twitter:

Jason Falls\' Tweet

The man has a following, let me tell you, because I have picked up bunch of new friends/followers since Jason’s shout out.  I owe Jason a big thanks, but also to those of you who chose to follow me today.  Several have remarked that if Jason says I’m “freakin’ brilliant,” then the pressure is really on.

So rather than trying to be witty or snarky (read yesterday’s post: “Lou Capozzi to Me: You Are Like a Right Wing Talk Show Radio Host ), let me give some online thanks for some online love to those who chose to follow me today.  And I believe in what we refer to as “linkey love,” so I thought that if you were nice enough to take Jason’s advice and follow me today, I’d like to offer you some “linkey love” in return.  So, I have listed every person who began following me this morning and would like to say “thank you” to all of them.  I gave this some thought on the “is this creepy?” scale, and then remembered that anyone can see who anyone is following anyway.  So my thanks go to:

  1. Tiffany Winbush
  2. Matthew Chamberlain
  3. Kelli Nowinsky
  4. Marisa Alexis
  5. Charlene Blohm
  6. Dibegin
  7. Brandon Chesnutt
  8. RealPolitix
  9. Soc Media Headhunter
  10. Martin Kulakowski
  11. Caryn Stein
  12. Jennifer Ross
  13. Social Media Smarts
  14. Scott Iseman
  15. Brian Cross
  16. Richard Arblaster
  17. Jayadeep Rath
  18. Chais Meyer
  19. Kevin Urie
  20. Patti Fousek
  21. Anna Tarkov
  22. cbits
  23. roundpeg
  24. Amy Stark
  25. Beverly Macy
  26. Erik Florida
  27. drooling
  28. Walter Pike
  29. Yael Beeri
  30. A. Martin
  31. Paul May
  32. Beth Watkins
  33. Kim Dushinski
  34. Ernest Koe
  35. djsiry
  36. Lauren Ban
  37. Sylvia Martinez
  38. Maren Hogan
  39. Jay Ehret
  40. Wayne Armstrong
  41. Jason Mical
  42. Barbara Gibson
  43. Shonali Burke
  44. Media Mum
  45. Ari Adler
  46. Ken Burbary
  47. Chelsea Hamilton
  48. Sharnese LaNier
  49. Kate Buck
  50. rrcowden
  51. Dana Willhoit
  52. dlayphoto
  53. HumidCity
  54. Dan Thornton
  55. Erica Holt
  56. Susan Getgood

Thanks, guys,  I’ll try to be brilliant.


Lou Capozzi

Lou Capozzi to Me: You Are Like a Right Wing Talk Show Radio Host

A few weeks ago, I wrote a fairly critical post entitled “Lou Capozzi: Why the World Thinks America Sucks.”
The post was based upon a podcast recorded with Mr. Capozzi, Chairman Emeritus of Publicis Public Relations and Corporate Communications Group, by Eric Schwartzman of “On the Record.”

I knew that I was stating some views that were likely to get people fired up, so I a) sent an email to the organization that Mr. Capozzi was representing in the podcast, Business for Diplomatic Action, as well as to a former colleague at Fleishman-Hillard who is on the board a well as to Eric Schwartzman.  My hope in doing so was to state that a) the post is there so you may as well read it, and b) provide contact information in case anyone took exception with it and wanted to respond.

On November 10, I got a brief email from Cari Guittard of Business for Diplomatic Action:

Thanks for sending, CEG

Cari E. Guittard
Executive Director
Business for Diplomatic Action
Sent by GoodLink (

And I thought it was done.

Not so fast.

Yesterday, I received a comment (posted here as well) from Mr. Capozzi, Chairman Emeritus of Publicis Public Relations and Corporate Communications Group, which I have posted in its entirety:

By now I guess it’s safe to say almost nobody saw this, since I have had no reaction from anyone other than the email you sent to BDA, but I don’t want your assessment to stand without comment.

Your post reminds me of the kind of comments you hear from right-wing talk show hosts talking about books they haven’t read, based on the title and the author!

It’s pretty clear you weren’t there to hear my talk, because if you had you would never have written this. And it sorrows me to see a fellow public relations professional so willing to shoot his mouth off without bothering to do the research first.

It’s also apparent you didn’t bother to visit the BDA website, http://www.businessfordiplomaticaction/com, because you would have found the large body of research behind the presentation.

Next time I give a talk why don’t you come to hear it before dumping on it!


Let me address your comments, Lou.

  1. Mr. Capozzi says: “By now I guess it’s safe to say almost nobody saw this, since I have had no reaction from anyone other than the email you sent to BDA.”My response: So the presumption is that since only one person sent it to you, no one else read it?  What about the comments from some of the most respected voices in the social media space, like Jason Falls, Geoff Livingston and even Eric Schwartzman himself?  And I assure you, Mr. Capozzi, that this was the highest ranked post I have ever done in terms of page views.  And that’s not counting others who commented about it in Twitter.  Stating that no one saw it because you got it from one source is, a best, not factual.  It is at worst, wishful thinking.
  2. Mr. Capozzi says: “Your post reminds me of the kind of comments you hear from right-wing talk show hosts talking about books they haven’t read, based on the title and the author!” My response: This is the one that really has me scratching my head.  Mr. Capozzi, if you had read my post carefully, you would have noted that I state, before almost anything else, the following:  “Eric interviewed Lou on about his luncheon keynote at the PRSA International Conference on restoring America’s connections with the world.  This took place in Detroit at the end of October.  So, caveat #1:  I was not there to hear the speech and #2) Mr. Capozzi was presumably limited in the amount of time that he had on Eric’s show.”  I lobbed criticism, and when you live in a glass house, you have to expect people to throw stones.  But at least have your facts straight.  When I state, even using the word “caveat” that I was not at the PRSA conference, but was writing about the podcast itself, it seems pretty clear, I would think, even to the uninterested observer THAT I WAS NOT AT THE CONFERENCE.  I based my comments on the interview itself (pretty clear) that was posted AFTER the conference.
  3. Mr. Capozzi says: “It’s pretty clear you weren’t there to hear my talk, because if you had you would never have written this.My response: The answer is pretty clear from my last response, but let me say this, Mr. Capozzi:  I listened to your interview with Eric three times while writing this post.  IF THERE IS ONE QUOTE, ONE SYLLABLE, THAT IS FACTUALLY INCORRECT, ONE WORD THAT YOU DID NOT SAY, contact me and I will take it down.  You can’t claim that you were misquoted in an autobiography.
  4. Mr. Capozzi says: It’s also apparent you didn’t bother to visit the BDA website, http://www.businessfordiplomaticaction/com, because you would have found the large body of research behind the presentation.”

    My response:
    I am getting carpal tunnel correcting what is a firm grasp of the obvious.  You’ll note that I link to the BDA Web site in the post, so clearly I have visited it.  I got Cari Guittard‘s contact information from the Web site, so of course I have visited it.  I saw that a former colleague on mine at Fleishman-Hillard was on the board and emailed him.  All of which give a pretty good indication that I have been on the site.And finally, if you are going to criticize me for not visiting the site, the least you could do it offer the proper URL.  It’s” “not ” http://www.businessfordiplomaticaction/com

And since we are about correcting the record, did you or did you not say:

  • Customs officers are “very threatening…foreboding” and that is one of the reasons why people don’t like to come to America?
  • “Picture the guy in Bermuda shorts with a camera and his hat turned to the side walkin’ down the Champs Elysee. We just aren’t as sensitive as we need to be to the way that we conduct ourselves’?
  • “There is a broad perception out there that globalization has been fueled by America…Our reputation is really in trouble,” when you work for a global public relations and communications firm who has benefited from globalization?

The bottom line is this:  no one likes begin criticized.  I get it.  Troll this blog for people who think that I am full of it.  But I expected a little more from someone who is the Chairman Emeritus of Publicis Public Relations and Corporate Communications Group and has spent 40 years in the public relations industry than being called a “right wing radio talk show host” and for “shoot[ing] [my] mouth off without bothering to do the research first.”

I did the research, Lou.  It’s all above.

Maybe you should too — and might I suggest by going back and reading the original post.