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Measurement, Talk Triggers and Fake News: A PRSA International Recap

Wednesday, October 25, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Minnesota PRSA
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Measurement, Talk Triggers and Fake News: A PRSA International Recap

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As a veteran of several PRSA conferences, I came in with optimistic but guarded expectations. I’ve seen memorable shows in the past, but not everyone has surpassed the high bar that this conference has set for itself.

The good news is that this year’s PRSA International Conference in historic Boston was one of the most impressive shows I’ve been to thus far.

What made the show so noteworthy? It comes down to three core elements:

1) Theme of Measurement

It’s not surprising that measurement was one of the primary thematic tracks that attendees could follow at the conference. In fact, these sessions were jam-packed. Showing up less than five minutes early typically meant standing or sitting on the floor – I wound up doing both.

Listening to industry leaders in these sessions confirmed that PR practitioners are continuing their inevitable march towards more outcome-based metrics. Measuring brand awareness through reach metrics is now a starting point, not an end-state.

It was enlightening to hear agencies and brands share real-world examples of measurement further down the marketing funnel through statistical correlations, adaption of the Barcelona Principles, and most importantly, tying results back to the primary business goals.

As PR continues its measurement evolution, I appreciate that speakers and attendees at the conference were comfortable jumping into a topic that’s inherently messy and complex. Progress still needs to be made, but the way forward continues to become clearer.

2) Jay Baer’s Keynote on Talk Triggers

Baer managed to one-up Morgan’s Spurlock’s impressive keynote that helped kick-off the conference. He did this, impressively, by simply providing the conference’s most genuinely useful presentation. And by useful, I mean that everyone around me was frantically writing down Baer’s insightful takeaways. He was that good.

Word-of-mouth marketing was Baer’s focus, and he noted that by 2020, most purchase decisions will be based upon customer experience. And a positive experience is driven by having the right, unique business features that consumers are dying to share via social networks and product reviews. Baer calls these Talk Triggers.

Of course, it’s Jay Baer, so there were plenty of real-world examples to get his points across. Take the Cheesecake Factory. They spend five times less on advertising than competing restaurants. How is this possible? Cheesecake Factory has three Talk Triggers: huge portions, a huge menu, and 33 different kinds of cheesecake.

All these Talk Triggers fit Baer’s four requirements of being remarkable, repeatable, realistic and relevant. In addition, Cheesecake Factory bravely goes beyond trite and redundant marketing pitches, like having great customer services. As Baer says, same is lame. And brands and agencies that are willing to take chances with memorable Talk Triggers are winning. They make it easy for their customers to use word-of-mouth to drive positive PR, brand reputation and sales in both the B2C and B2B arenas.

3) PR’s Role in the Fake News Era

The tone was set early when presiding PRSA president Jane Dvorak reminded attendees at the conference kick-off that the PR industry was one of the first to denounce fake news. Thunderous applause ensued.

Given the industry’s close connection to traditional media outlets, social media and brand communications, it makes sense that fake news strikes a nerve. Whether it’s coming from the White House, media outlets or social media, fake news has made everyone suspicious of the news they consume. Brand content is not immune from this trend.

For PR professionals, these are precarious times. How do we tell our company’s – or our clients’ – stories effectively when skepticism is at an all-time high?

Lisa Arledge-Powell from MediaSource and Robert Mackle from The Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center lead a session on fake news and brand credibility that was both timely and insightful. They shared tips for vetting fake news within your brand before it’s made public. And they wisely reminded attendees about the crucial role of approval processes, especially when working between communications, marketing, social media and PR teams.

With no end in sight to the daily bombardment of fake news, PR seems best equipped to set a good example for other industries by adding depth and credibility to their brand stories.

The momentum of the Boston show no doubt will continue at next year’s PRSA International Conference, which is being hosted by one of my very favorite cities in the world: Austin, Texas.

Hope to see you there.

David Olson is the Senior Vice President at Brandpoint, a full-service, industry-leading content marketing and native advertising agency.

Minnesota PRSA
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Minneapolis MN 55416
Phone: 952-564-3046
Fax: 952-252.8096

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