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Agrimarketing : July 2009
50 Gibbs & Soell:32 Feature Story 7/15/09 2:49 PM Page 50 AGRI-MARKETERS UPDATE PROVINGPRVALUETOTHEC-SUITE by CosMallozzi, Chairman&CEO, Gibbs&Soell Public Relations I t’s nearly harvest time in the Corn Belt.With every click of the yield monitor, farmersmeasure their return on investment in bushels per acre. The higher the number, the better the return. Does the same concept apply to ROI for public relations? Certainly, counting clips provides ameasure of PR output. But does an investment in ten press releases return twice asmuch value as an investment in five?When it comes to proving public relations ROI to members of the C-suite,measuring outcomes trumpsmeasuring output. Chief executives are re-discovering that brand reputation is theirmost valuable asset. In aworld turned upside-down by financial crises and questionable corporate ethics, customerswant to do businesswith companies they trust.When it’s done right, public relations fosters trustwith both credibility and transparency. That’s an outcome you can’tmeasurewith a clip count alone. MEASUREMENT Increasingly, our clients and potential clients are asking formeasurement that goes beyond the traditional reach x frequency. In a recent Gibbs&Soell survey, 81%said that reporting on the quality ofmedia coverage is themost importantmeasurement they can have—more important than number of clips or ad value equivalent. Gibbs & Soell compiles qualita- tivemeasurementwith insights gleaned through targeted public relations research. Often, the first step involves a leadership audit. Like aweedy check that puts herbicide performance in context, a leadership audit establishes a baseline formeasuring public relations results. Through coordinated outreach,we target the key players within our client’smarketing and communications groups, aswell as the layer ofmanagement that ulti- Mallozzi “clip book”measurements (number of impressions, CPM, etc.), content analysis applies a proprietary process to rate tone,message delivery, prominence and impact against the broader business andmarketing objectives of the communications programs. Similar formulas are used for competitive content analysis, whichmeasures howmedia coverage generated on our client’s behalf stacks up against the competition (e.g. share of discussion, tonality, message positioning, andmore.) AUDIT When conducted pre- and post-campaign, a journalist auditmeasures message acceptancewithin the media community. Typically, the audit focuses on a specific issue or set of issues.Aswith the leadership audit, all journalists are guaranteed mately controls funding. To encourage complete trans- parency,we guarantee confidentiality and our participants remain anonymous. Results are used to align public relations objectiveswith business goals and to build consensus on the benchmarks thatwill tie public relations effortsmore closely to business outcomes. With benchmarks in place,we can evaluate the ROI ofmedia coverage through comprehensive content analysis. In addition to the standard anonymity and confidentiality: their responses are not connected to their names, but the substance of their replies adds yet another layer of insight into our PRmeasurement. Through stakeholder surveys,we canmeasure the compatibility of our client’s brandmessages against the viewpoints of broader audiences, frominfluencers to channel partners to end users. Surveys can be tailored to a client’s available budget and can run the gamut fromon-site focus groups to online surveys. CENTERS OF INFLUENCE In agribusiness,we often target stakeholder surveys to centers of influence—the university experts, crop consultants and professional farmmanagerswho are often vital to establishing trust in a brand.While not in a position to endorse one product over another, these groups can help to build awareness of issues that support the brand.When the messages are realistic and reasonably consistentwith the COIs’ views, the brand earns ameasure of deserved trust fromthe association. Earning customer trust and nur- turing it over the long termare exactly howpublic relations unlocks real value for a brand.Unlike the corn crop that grows in valuewith every bushel harvested, volume only scratches the surface of PRmeasurement. By tapping the pulse of company leadership, stakeholders, centers of influence andmedia through targeted research,we can link PR output to PR outcome andmore effectively prove theworth of a strategic public relations to the brand stewards inhabiting the C-suite. Readmore about theGibbs&Soell suite of public relations research offerings at www.gibbs-soell.com. AM 50 Agri Marketing s July/August 2009
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