HOUSTON: In selecting Waggener Edstrom Worldwide as its AOR, BMC Software, a provider of business service management solutions, has emphasized the importance of tying ROI and specific metrics to PR activities.
Mark Stouse, BMC director of worldwide corporate communications, said Wag Ed and the communications department would jointly decide, on a quarterly basis, metrics (both media and revenues) and goals for the PR function.
"If they hit those metrics, they're paid a certain amount; if they exceed them, they get paid more," Stouse said. The account is currently worth somewhere between $1 to $2 million, Stouse noted. The purpose, he added, was to directly tie PR to business objectives. Stouse also said the account billings could increase next year.
"We're interested in tailoring what we do in analyst relations and PR to generating specific business outcomes," he said.
Sarah Russ, Wag Ed VP and GM in its Austin office - and account lead - said the firm was happy to provide a pitch that dealt with heavy metrics.
"We always want our communications activities to be tied to results that connect to business objectives," Russ said. "I hope metrics will be part of many upcoming RFPs."
While Russ could not discuss specifics, she did lay out a plan that focused heavily on messaging.
"BMC has all of this substance for leadership," Russ said. "But its leadership position has been a little bit silent; it has become an invisible leader. We want to help elevate that position."
Russ said the firm's work goes beyond how many article placements it scores and more toward touting messages behind the company's outreach. She cited messages in media and analyst reports, as well as customer audits, as important criteria to monitor.
She added: "The online community is critical for the software world. It's definitely an area we'll be monitoring from an internal and external perspective."
Russ said that the agency's research team provides the in-house capabilities to measure and monitor different perceptions.
Stouse said that focus aligns with BMC's mandate that PR will have a significant seat at the table.
"I meet with the CEO regularly and meet with senior execs," he said. "BMC is cognizant of its need to better communicate with wider audiences; we see the impact of it on top-line growth. I'm a big believer that PR is not only a brand function, but a demand-generation function; PR needs to help the sales team close the deal."
The extensive three-month pitch process involved 15 firms. Wag Ed beat out co-finalists Weber Shandwick and GlobalFluency for the account, which began July 1. Incumbent Porter Novelli, which repitched, had represented the company for the past six years.
Wag Ed will help create an integrated, multichannel communications program, focusing heavily on media relations and competitive communications.
"[A goal] is understanding to the extent that is legal and ethical what a competitor is up to and being competitive with them in the press by holding them accountable for the delta between what they say and what they do," Stouse said.
The company took finalists through pop quizzes and intense, one-on-one breakout sessions where they discussed various aspects of BMC's business in order to ensure that the people who would be on the account were capable of understanding BMC's business proposition.
"We wanted to do a deep dive with the individuals on each agency team during the final presentation," Stouse said. "We took a hard look [to ensure] the people knew what they were talking about. We were looking for people who knew technology stone cold and could translate the tech story into a larger story to the man on the street."