Category Archives: Measurement

The Seven Sins of Change and how to avoid them – csuitepodcast show 41

In the final interview of Show 41 (skip to 36:35) of the csuitepodcast, recorded at PRWeek’s 2017 PR360, I spoke with FleishmanHillard Fishburn’s Deputy CEO and Senior Partner, Ali Gee about her presentation, ‘The Seven Sins of Change and how to avoid them’.

To begin with, Ali explained that in her presentation, as well as behaviour change, change can encompass anything from making people love a brand they haven’t loved before, to driving up share price, engaging employees, or delivering brand and corporate reputation – anything that makes a measurable difference to a business’ or a brand’s objectives.  However, her biggest concerns for the PR industry in general is that it can’t always prove what it is doing actually works and that, as an industry, whilst it’s increasingly focussing around creativity, great strategy and content, if the focus is on output and not outcomes, Ali believes PR has its eye off the ball.

In her talk in the conference she said that winning at Cannes [Lions], being in the [PR Week] Power book and pitching and winning is cool, but she asked the audience to truthfully answer what proportion of their work makes a real difference, arguing that in many cases, they won’t know, and in lots of cases, it makes no difference at all.

So below are Ali’s seven sins and how she explained them:

  1. Timidity
    In a new business situation, when a client brief lands in an agency, 9 times out of 10 you are trying to ingratiate yourself to the new prospect, rather than pointing out that often the brief isn’t totally clear in terms of what the client wants.  So the sin is that people don’t ask the client “Can I ask you to be clear?  What is the change that you want to see?”
  2. Assumption
    In situations where you’ve been made aware of what the change is that the client wants, often, PR people just go straight for it.  Ali used the example of helping people lose weight, where PR will think it needs to do is campaign towards that goal, when in actual fact, asking people for a much simpler behaviour change can still deliver that same outcome.  In her presentation, Ali used the example of two scientists at the University of West Virginia who, when faced with the task of reducing obesity in the US State, established that the one thing most Virginians had in common was that they drank milk most days.  They therefore concluded that if they could secure a switch from full fat to skimmed milk in these people, then the average Virginian’s diet would immediately attain the USDA recommended levels of saturated fat.  She explained that asking people to change from drinking full fat milk to skimmed-milk is totally different to asking them to reduce calorie intake, or eat their five a day or do more exercise.
  3. Greed
    Often a client side sin, where they ask for too much.  For example, if a client asks for a 25% in consumer behaviour or shift in attitude to a particular issue, that result is unlikely to be realistic.  Ali said that big scale behaviour change doesn’t happen in months and double digit behaviour change takes time and large budgets, usually requiring a multi-layered campaign
  4. Blindness
    Too many campaigns say they are based on research, when in fact they are based on what Ali calls, ‘sight’ research’, i.e., observations of what we see people do.  However, Ali believes what’s missing here is the ‘In’ research, i.e., what’s actually inside their heads, or hearts, and why it drives the behaviour you observe.  It’s her way of explain why the two elements make up ‘Insight’, and so without both, you won’t be able to deliver a strong strategy that will deliver change.
  5. Laziness
    Ali said that people don’t want to be forced to be different and are happy being in the status quo and that therefore, it’s important to make the ask of people small.
  6. Hubris
    Arrogance or overt pride.  In Ali’s opinion, as an industry, PR goes around slapping each other on the back for some great creativity, but sometimes that glamour and excitement of the work is allowed to get in the way of whether the work actually delivered real change.
  7. Finger-licking
    No, nothing to do with fried chicken!  Ali was referring here to people waving their finger in the air in lieu of doing real measurement.

After talking through the list, I asked Ali for one thing, and one thing only, that she would ask the industry to do to help her in her cause, ensuring she follows her own rules by not being too greedy and asking for a small change to start with!  Her response was to ask the judges and owners of awards in the industry to literally throw out any entry that doesn’t have proper outcome measurements or where the outcomes that are measured don’t relate directly and clearly to the stated objectives.

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Strategic Internal Communications interview with Virgin Trains: csuitepodcast show 35 pt1


with Virgin Trains’ Drew McMillan (left)

The first two parts of Show 35 of the csuitepodcast were recorded at PR Week’s Strategic Internal Communications event in London, which had a theme of creating a more agile, digital and customer focus culture in the business.

My first interview, with Drew McMillan, Head of Internal Communications and Innovation at Virgin Trains, followed his keynote address at the conference about how to create an amazing place to work by borrowing techniques more often used for customer insight.

Drew’s gut instinct was that whilst many consumer brands quite rightly spend millions understanding their customers, they spend way less than 10% of that amount understanding their people, yet so many business use the mantra of their people being their most valuable asset!

He explained that Virgin is a customer led brand that is big in the consumer space, and that the company invests accordingly in understanding its customers.  However, he felt that historically, the organisation hadn’t invested near as much effort and energy in understanding its people and that, like most employers, had previously thought that an annual survey (that often takes a long time to do anything about the responses), perhaps with some additional activities ‘around the edges’, was all that was required.

Drew believes that today’s employees expect to be listened to more often and their input to be acted upon much more quickly.  He therefore wanted to look at a fundamentally different way of applying customer insight to an internal audience and so adapted the company’s consumer facing tool, ‘The Awesometer’, to create an internal Pulse dashboard that has sub components looking at Trust, Empowerment and Engagement.  This dashboard shows an aggregated sense of how Virgin Trains’ people are feeling on a four weekly basis, i.e. how awesome the company is.

Drew’s Pulse dashboard works alongside other Internal Communications tools.  He explained that the company is in the middle of transferring to Office365, although had already implemented Yammer, which gives him rich analytics on sentiment within the business.  In fact, Virgin Trains has been independently audited as one of the most engaged Yammer users in Europe (with 2800 active users) and in the top 12 Yammer Networks worldwide, with a daily Yammer Engagement level of 68% Measure of Active Engagement (MAE), which Drew confirmed is very high.

Virgin also combines this with more traditional one-to-one research, working with Ipsos Loyalty to speak with colleagues in their homes in a very frank and private way about working at Virgin Trains and how the company can improve as a business.  Drew feels the importance of doing these interviews in the home is that people are in a completely different psychological place and will therefore talk differently to how they might do so in a typical open focus group environment.

All these various tools and research methods are part of Virgin’s ACE (Amazing Colleague Experience) program – born out of their ICE program (Incredible Customer Experience), which helped define the seven stages of their customers’ journey with them, from thinking of travelling, through to arriving at their destination. Therefore ACE takes the same methodology by breaking their people’s daily lives into a number of stages, from preparing to come to work in the morning through to getting home at night.

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Tribal Relations – csuitepodcast ECS special – Show 28 Part 3 of 3

Part 3 of Show 28 starts at 13min51s

The final interview that I recorded at the European Communications Summit in Brussels was with Mazen Nahawi, CEO of Media Intelligence Agency, CARMA, who had presented a session at the conference on the topic of Tribal Relations, which was looking at how understanding of trust will change amidst the failures of political communications.  This was quite a timely talk following the result of the Brexit referendum in the UK and the backtracking that followed from both sides of the argument.

Mazen’s talk was about how people are coming together around ideas, interests and passions rather than gender, ethnicity or location.  They can be transnational and multicultural, but the key aim is that they want to achieve a particular goal, whether political or social.  As well as what was going on in the UK politically, he said it was also quite pertinent in the current US elections as well as what has happened in the Arab Spring in the Middle East and so it’s very much a global phenomenon. He added that it’s therefore important to understand what brings people together and what drives them, which is what CARMA are trying to achieve with their research.

Mazen explained that CARMA are trying to take measurement to a different level with their Tribal Relations research.  He said that traditionally, the [PR] industry has focussed on clip counts, advertising value equivalency (AVE), etc., but his company believes the csuite requires data that is much more in-depth and needs to have a historical, business and psychological context, rather than just media analysis and opinion data. He believes that by blending it all together, you get a holistic view and a better understanding of the people you are trying to serve.

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Understanding and measuring influence: Interview with H+K Strategies & Brandwatch – Cannes Lions csuitepodcast Part 6 of 9

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This interview starts at 25.21

For the final part of this second Cannes Lions csuitepodcast, I moved to the Haymarket Hive to chat to H+K Strategies’ Director of Content, Vikki Chowney and Ben Hackett of Brandwatch, who were there launching Sherlock+, the latest version of the partnership between their two companies.

As Vikki explained, Sherlock+ is a series of customised dashboards across all sectors, covering 45 core topics.  The platform allows them to apply data driven network analysis on top a list of the people who H+K believe to be the most important in those topics areas – a list that starts with who the team at H+K already know, based on their sector experience, which Vikki believes is a good gauge for a PR agency.  This enables them to then look at an expanded community of influence rather than just an individual one, to see what content they share, how they talk to each other and what hash tags they use, all in real time, providing a constantly updated view of who are the most important people.

Given Sherlock+ was only being launched at Cannes, Vikki explained how a previous iteration of the platform had helped Visa find out more about the people working in banks who were making the decisions on whether to work with Visa or not, how they make those decisions, who are they influenced by and what content they like.  This helped Visa find new people that they might want to invite to an event, do some media activity with or simply have a meeting with and get them involved in some of the work they do from a corporate perspective.

Naturally, with my Conversis hat on, I asked Vikki how they are going to roll the platform out in other territories.  She told me that whilst they are starting with monitoring in just English, they are aiming to allow local offices to create their own language versions of it.  For me, this is crucial to its success if monitoring global campaigns.  Conversis already works with clients translating discussions around products on social platforms such as NetBase, as the vast majority of people in each territory write and search in their own language.  Google Trends actually has a great tool showing the most popular searches by language in some of the world’s largest cities.  For example, in Berlin, 89% of Google searches are in German, 95% in Madrid are in Spanish and 93% in Paris are in French – I guess the phrase “No Shit Sherlock” is quite appropriate at this point!  But it is something many companies don’t take account of when planning their global web content and SEO strategy and is very relevant when searching on social discussions about brands.  You certainly can’t rely on tools like Google Translate to get correct translations, let alone understand sentiment, especially when trying to understand the new language that social media has created with shortened words, hashtags and txt speak!

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Review of Social Media Measurement Solved event

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending a Social Media Measurement event at Ketchum’s office in London run by PRIME Research in conjunction with the CIPR Social Media Panel (CIPRSM) that I sit on, all in support of AMEC’s Measurement Week.

The afternoon included a line-up of excellent presentations, including four from my CIPRSM colleagues, so here are some of my key take outs that I thought worth sharing from their presentations – all slides are also available online.

The first of my fellow CIPRSM panel members to speak was Richard Bagnall, CEO or Prime Research UK and Chair AMEC Social Media Panel. His key point was that output numbers can be misleading. Richard shared a slide showing that 44% of the 11.2m followers of the BBC Breaking News‘ Twitter feed are fake and a further 43% inactive leaving just 13% that are good – so the real potential (and only potential) reach to their own followers of any tweet from them is actually only 1.45m – of course retweets enable a tweet to reach more people.

Richard warned the audience to be wary of ‘magic numbers’ and rattled off a load of numbers on how cheaply he can go and buy views, likes, followers etc. for his social channels [Richard has since shared with me this post by Stephen Waddington where he got some of the numbers from]. He also said that 40% of conversations taking place in social media are automated.

He then went on to introduce the AMEC’s Social Media Measurement Framework (which I’ve taken the liberty of copying the slide below – just click on the image to make it larger) by first talking about the Pepsi Refresh Project that boasted 3.5m likes, 60,000 twitter followers and 80m votes as it’s Social Media results, but stressed the fact that it failed to sell anymore Pepsi!

For more information on the framework visit, which I will be using on the projects I am currently working on.

Next up was Andrew Bruce Smith, MD of Escherman who worried most of the audience when he explained that, at best, only 3-5% of your Twitter followers will genuinely see what you put out there. He delivered, as he always does, an excellent presentation on Google Analytics and shared this link to a document he wrote to give PR practitioners insight into how Google Analytics can be used as a broad-based measurement platform to help better demonstrate the value of PR and communications activity.

Adam Parker, Founder of Lissted, took to the ‘stage’ next to talk about the real world of influencer measurement to further confirm some of the ridiculous things that many people believe means someone is influential, based on people’s profiles, which tell you very little.

The fourth CIPRSM member to talk was Elayne Phillips, Head of Strategic Analytics and Evaluation, DEFRA, who presented how she used the AMEC framework for her #chipmydog campaign, which you can also hear her explain in my CIPRSM c-suite podcast that I recorded the following day

Many thanks to all the speakers, Prime Research and Ketchum for an excellent afternoon.