Insights into some AxiCom thinking...

Why you should invest in table plans at dinner parties.

“What do you do?” is a dinner party staple that often has the person I sit next to wishing that the hostess had thought about the table plan a little harder.  Recently I have become very boring about what I do, because I am little obsessed with digital and the impact it has on my clients, their customers and how we define our role as PR professionals.

I am a true B2B tech specialist and my clients’ products are often buried deep in the enterprise technology stack.  Good digital practice in these organisations is as nuanced as any communications tool and we have been working closely with these clients to create a digital experience that is rooted in a solid understanding of how their customers, influencers and other stakeholders want to be communicated with.

Many of the clients I speak with have started their digital journey with ‘social media agencies’ and have invested many hours in educating the agency in how a B2B technology company operates, who its customers are and how they purchase.  After wading through proposals for activities best suited for household consumer brands, they then notice that digital is something they have been doing for a while.  Online is simply another medium, another platform that amplifies their communications and is integrated into their day to day PR activities.

This understanding that ‘earned’ coverage is the bread and butter of PR, then leads to the next question: How can we measure the impact of digital on our business?  For some of our smaller clients, the answer lies in two, free tools.  First, Google Analytics.  Like any marketing activity, the KPIs associated with each part of the communications mix varies, however website traffic can be an important metric, particularly for those organisations that offer trial downloads or capture visitor information.

By tracking website traffic, through read-only access to our clients’ Google Analytics data, we can demonstrate the impact that PR activities have on website visits.  For example, a particular piece of online coverage with links back to the website can show a spike in traffic immediately after posting.  To take this a step further, specific pages on clients’ websites are visited more often once they have been promoted via social media platforms, such as Twitter, or on other blogs.

The second free tool that we use to track success is the first page of a Google Search.  When a potential customer, new recruit, investor or journalist types in a client’s keyword term, say:  business analytics, where does the client’s content appear on the search results page?

These results are governed by the complex algorithms that are brewed up by Google and will contain a mixture of owned, earned and paid content.  That earned content we PR people strive to achieve for our clients becomes the shop front when presented via a search engine, especially when it contains links back to the organisation’s home page.  The strongest search results will be given to those businesses that integrate all of its online activities using a common thread: Content and again, this is the domain of the communications agency.

This is just the tip of the digital iceberg (a timely metaphor). I told you I was boring...

Sally Moore, AxiCom London

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