What we do
Listening is what we do in the research process. Some of the tools we use when we begin research are awareness surveys and communication audits. We always do informal research by reading about your company and your competitors on the Internet. We also listen to you and your key people as you tell us about your business. For awareness studies, we partner with local research firms that have a track record of providing useful information. In a communication audit, we measure the effectiveness of your communication efforts.
In this phase, we continue the listening process by reviewing with you the information gained in the research phase. A major result of research is an abundance of information upon which to base a communication plan with measurable objectives. We listen to your views in the research phase so we can integrate your thinking into the plan. We can focus on planning for solving specific problems as well as on overall communication. The plan designates what communication tools will be used, when they will be used and by whom. Your p.r. firm may plan your public relations program, but you, as a client, also have responsibilities in the implementation phase, though they may be simply to tell us to carry out the final plan that is approved by you.
Implementing a total communication program or a plan to address a specific issue involves learning about your business quickly. Businesses have many priorities to address through communication, but in those situations where an immediate need for communication has been identified by top management, we are ready to assist. Implementing a total plan is multifaceted and can involve using many communication tools. Specific issue plans tend to be more targeted in the choice of communications vehicles.
We are generalists and can learn your business rapidly. We have communication experience working with many kinds of manufacturing and service companies including contract furnishings, professional photographic equipment, computer software, automotive components, ergonomic seating, greeting cards, custom labeling, restaurant industry (several facets), industrial design, acoustics, contract interiors, physicians and medical offices, design engineering, process flow control and more.
On behalf of our clients we have worked with publications in the following markets: training, lawn and garden, painting and coating, metal finishing, government, food, electronic engineering and manufacturing, international automotive and general industrial, plastics, rubber, quality, cleaning and laundry, chemicals, utilities, off-highway equipment, engineering services, flows/instrumentation, glass coating, primary metals, stone/clay/concrete, apparel industry, building/facility management, interior design, hospitals/health care, heavy industry, health and safety, laboratory/research, libraries, offices, home office/small office, pharmaceutical, schools and colleges, physical/occupational therapy, welding, packaging, photography, video/broadcast, film, cleanrooms/static control and more. Though you may not see the markets you wish to reach mentioned, ask us to tell you how our experience can help you.
How do we know we’re doing a good job? One way to evaluate our services is periodic comparative awareness surveys or communication audits like the ones initiated during the research phase of our plan. As public relations professionals, we find this most reliable.
However, some clients measure our success by increases in phone calls or web visitors. Many measure it by their business growth. Some clients will engage a clipping service to see where we have placed articles. Some ask us to value the number of inches of space in magazines as though it were advertising space. This is easy enough to do if we can be sure the clipping service is finding everything, but few clipping services will.
If we visit a magazine’s website and see material we have sent to an editor, we print it out. If we see something in a magazine that we receive, we’ll call it to your attention. Few, if any, people will tell you they bought your product because they read about it in a single article. You see, there is a cumulative effect of communication. That is why we say that consistent effort yields consistent results. In a world in which we are constantly bombarded with communication, it takes many exposures to cause a potential customer to act. This means, for example, that if you sell flow meters, your communication needs to be in a trade magazine that is doing a focus on flow meters in October rather than just in February when you introduced the new product. An organized public relations program that gets your messages to the right place at the right time is the consistent effort that will yield consistent results
Discussion (in which we summarize current thinking and communication research about the value of editorial placement and advertising).
The conclusion of the following discussion is that editorial placements make public relations equal to advertising in effectiveness and that the business implications are that public relations should have a higher stature in the marketing communications mix. We hasten to add that it is usually less costly than the advertising portion of the marketing plan.
Thirty years ago, the number of times that an ad had to be placed before it caused action was cited as three; a few years after that it was seven. With the Internet broadly used in business, communication research has tried to determine the number of exposures of all types (advertising, editorial, Internet) that will cause action, but to no avail.
We base our work on the assumption that people are more likely to read and value editorial in magazines over advertising because having your company in the editorial pages means that the editor sees the news value in your product. There is disagreement among researchers over whether this also means there is implied third-party endorsement by an editor. A few researchers discount it while others are studying a proposed multiplier effect caused by people seeing your company mentioned in the editorial pages as opposed to advertising. A study, “Exploring the Comparative Communications Effectiveness of Advertising and Public Relations: An Experimental Study of Initial Branding Advantage” by Michaelson and Stacks published in June 2007 by the Institute for Public Relations Research, looked for this multiplier effect and failed to find it. However, Michaelson and Stacks could not totally discount the multiplier effect, saying it may exist in some circumstances. The conclusions of this study are that editorial placements have equality with advertising. The business implications of this are that public relations should be afforded significantly higher stature in the marketing communications mix by receiving the same support and financing as advertising, direct marketing and other marketing communication disciplines.” (Michaelson and Stacks, p. 9)