–Johna Burke, EVP, BurrellesLuce
-Mike Donahue, EVP, American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s)
-Chris Foster, VP, head of strategy and organization capability, Booz Allen Hamilton
-Mary Elizabeth Germaine, SVP, director of research, Ketchum
-Allyson Hugley, EVP, measurement, analytics, and insights, Weber Shandwick; co-chair, AMEC, North America
-Jeffrey Moran, VP of PR, events, and lifestyle marketing, Pernod Ricard
-Kim Stokes, MD, digital and social media, Marina Maher Communications
-Mark Stouse, founder and CEO, Vaulting Ventures
-Annie Weber, SVP and GM, GfK Custom Research
Gideon Fidelzeid (PRWeek): What are the keys to converting data into stories that will resonate with audiences?
Allyson Hugley (Weber Shandwick): We’ve become anchored in the idea that data will speak for itself and drive the story. We rely too much on data as a crude input.
Ultimately, the key is what we analyze, what we do with it, and the insights we glean from it. That becomes the narrative and then the story.
Chris Foster (Booz Allen Hamilton): Data is only as good as its ability to allow executives to make decisions. There’s a point at which someone has to do something with the data and the content – and that’s the storytelling. That’s the art of the profession, informed by data.
Mary Elizabeth Germaine (Ketchum): When you’re trying to engage with an audience through storytelling, you must figure out the relevancy and the human truth that you can arrive at based on that data. When you convert it to that human truth, it’s something they can connect to, which just gets us further down the path of impacting them.
Annie Weber (GfK): It’s like a sculptor looking at a piece of marble. He keeps staring at it until he sees all the pieces that don’t belong. If you have the courage of your convictions, you strip away all the noise to tell what the core story is. You’re left with a few key pieces of data that strengthen your story.
Mike Donahue (4A’s): I’m not sure Big Data is as connected to storytelling as a lot of people think. Long before you ever get to Big Data, you must start with the small data that advertisers have long had about their users that can inform creative decisions and allow a great story to be told.
When you combine that small data to create a story with Big Data about where the story ran and who did what because of it, you get smart data – and that’s the important thing.
Also, as important as storytelling is, story-doing is more important. You can’t get to story-doing before you really understand what it takes to tell a great story. And you can’t tell a great story unless you first answer why somebody likes something. Why do they engage?
Kim Stokes (Marina Maher Communications [MMC]): If you don’t cull insights to generate a rich story, you’re not rooting it in anything. We look at conversation-landscape analyses to understand what our audiences need and want. And not just vis-à-vis your brand, but the broader subject matter you’re trying to own.
We’re constantly listening and making sure our stories are told in a way that continues on through our audiences. Otherwise, your story hits a dead-end.
Mark Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): You need a story that people want to finish. That’s where an outside-in perspective is critical. Both small and big data drive that. Too many people in our professions fall into the inside-out trap. It’s not about that if you want to create a story people will connect with.
Johna Burke (BurrellesLuce): "Customer first" is where good storytelling both comes from and where it goes. If that weren’t the case, much of the discussion around measurement, especially in content marketing, wouldn’t be as prominent because it wouldn’t be seen as a competitor, in some cases, to editorial content.
Gideon Fidelzeid (PRWeek): How do you best measure the impact of stories?
Jeffrey Moran (Pernot Ricard): It must be about a call to action to your customers. Many of my brands have 90% awareness, but still might not be the leaders in the category. People may like and appreciate the brand. They might even be talking about it. But if they’re not buying it, the rest almost doesn't matter. The story must be converted into sales or action of some sort.
Donahue (4A’s): A story must lead to a decision to buy, think better, or feel better about a product. That decision must come out of a good story.
Stokes (MMC): We use the term "story selling," which is about how to take your audiences along with you on the path to purchase so that you convert conversations to commerce. Stories help brands earn the right to be in a person’s life.
Moran (Pernot Ricard): A story can’t just be pushed out through social channels either. It has to end up at whatever that final point is. If you’re only telling the story for a certain period of time, you are lost.
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): Connecting the dots on storytelling is really hard in the b-to-b space, but beyond their value in raising awareness, education, and lead generation, there are two other legs of sales productivity that are impacted by comms – deal expansion and sales velocity. Those are issues of customer trust and confidence. Storytelling has a huge impact on that.
Foster (Booz Allen): A brand story can’t end. It has to be this series that goes on forever. Just as the consumer’s journey and decisions constantly change, the story must evolve and change as the market matures or as challenger brands step up.
Moran (Pernot Ricard): If you’re really telling the story the right way, you may also evolve your product. If you’re not listening, if you’re only pushing one way, that’s not storytelling. It’s grandstanding. You can’t only tell what you want to be told, but you must also listen to what’s being added into that story and make amendments along the way, whether it’s at retail, possibly in your product mix, or whether it’s even in the offering itself. Without that ability to listen and react, you don’t tell the whole story.
Germaine (Ketchum): It’s all about relevancy at those key moments in time and how that relevancy evolves. If a customer never tried your product, you build relevance. Once they have tried it, their experience has changed and the relevance of the product to them has changed with it. Listening from a social perspective comes into play to continue informing how the relevance for your particular consumer changes over time.
Hugley (Weber): In terms of measurement, another key factor is who chooses to pick up and adopt the story and help to carry the message. Engaging your core audience is important, but there are also some key influential stakeholders. Being able to measure and evaluate the extent to which they adopt and become part of carrying that narrative is a key indicator of a story’s effectiveness.
Fidelzeid (PRWeek): Beyond click-throughs, likes, and so on, how do you define real engagement?
Donahue (4A’s): Consumer engagement is turning on a brand user or prospect. It needs to happen early in the chain, but if you don’t turn somebody on emotionally with a relevant message in the appropriate context, you’ll have a hard time engaging, let alone creating a good story.
Moran (Pernot Ricard): There is a continuum of engagement because it’s very difficult to go from zero to 100 immediately. In the early stages, you’re looking for something that gets people to think about or be open to your offering. Then, if you play your cards right, you’ll bring them through to some point of engagement. Then the continuum goes to the purchase.
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): I once asked a CEO about engagement. His simple answer, "It’s somebody who has taken an action in response to something we did." He added that it’s not about sentiment. It has to be monetizable. It’s not real until somebody actually does something with it.
Foster (Booz Allen): Engagement isn’t necessarily always linked to some type of emotional driver. It’s a balance between rational and emotional. Sometimes, a rational story backed by facts and figures is enough to get someone hooked. After that, you can get to the emotional piece.
Germaine (Ketchum): There’s passive engagement – and I put "likes" in that category. You can like a brand whether or not you’re truly engaging. True engagement is when that brand becomes part of who you are and then you become an advocate for it.
There is also negative engagement, the detractors out there who are working against you. Brands need to find a way to sway them back to the positive or at least neutralize them to some extent.
Burke (BurrellesLuce): Engagement is the romantic part, but the C-suite is a lot more interested in the marriage. What are the terms of this relationship? How do we make this last? If it fails, what will happen? Engagement is the soft communications metric. We need to look at loyalty and advocacy.
Weber (GfK): You can’t think about true engagement without a deep, meaningful understanding of your target audience or customer. You must understand their psychometrics and what they want and then drive those behaviors. It takes all kinds of research to get there and all kinds of listening. Surveys are a great tool for that. You look at that data and figure out what it’s really telling you.
When I was a young researcher, someone once advised me to stop looking at all the notes and hear the music. That was a light-bulb moment for me.
Donahue (4A’s): There’s a great book by Simon Sinek, Start With Why. You have to get to why first. If you don’t ask why someone is about to do something, you’ll have a hard time measuring what they did.
Burke (BurrellesLuce): One of the most underutilized KPIs is customer service information. As we all look to engage with and acquire new customers, it’s obviously vital to maintain the ones you already have. It’s great to get a lot of likes, but if your customer service complaints go up, that’s a red flag. If communicators want to show they’re contributing to organizational goals, that’s a key focus.
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): The remit for comms pros is to think big thoughts and have a more philosophical view on things, but we have to drive the financial metrics at the top of the company that the C-suite cares about the most.
Hugley (Weber): We need to have different types of conversations with our client organizations. To fully understand the impact of communications requires having access to data and to stakeholders that oftentimes do not solely reside in the communications function. We can facilitate breaking down some of those silos – whether it be access to information or simply bringing about a culture change.
Foster (Booz Allen): We get these eloquent, seductive briefs from clients and we focus on making sure we are compliant. We need to stop at that moment and try to diagnose the problem we’re trying to solve. Rarely is the problem you’re solving in that brief what you end up solving two years downstream.
Donahue (4A’s): In the late 1960s, Rheingold introduced the first light beer, Gablinger’s. It was monstrously unsuccessful because they didn’t understand the problem. They tried to attract heavy beer users on the premise that drinking it was a smart thing to do.
Years later, Miller didn’t make the same mistake. It recognized the prevailing perception that the only people who would drink light beer are women and wimps. So it introduced a campaign where the story was all these athletes having a good time drinking it. They gave permission for men to drink it. They created a successful campaign by attacking a problem that existed.
About a decade later, Visa has a similar success built on the recognition of the perception that people couldn’t use the American Express card everywhere. The line "everywhere you want to be" was born from that. The creative people found a problem and solved it.
Weber (GfK): Those moments of inspiration come from a combination of things. Smart creative was a key, no doubt, but I bet there was some really good data about what those people really felt – their fears and prejudices.
There was a running joke at this year’s AMEC summit in Amsterdam about how much many of us hate data. That can’t be. You need to work with data and be creative with it. How are we going to have a seat at the table with CEOs if we hate data?
Foster (Booz Allen): You need to get the data scientists, the creative team, and the CFOs around the table before you put pen to paper. Everyone attacks a problem in a different way and you need that variety to stretch your thinking.
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): Another aspect of data that’s crucial here is that very few people in our profession actually understand how business operates and how money is made.
During a past stint at a firm, we came up with a fantastic campaign for a big insurance client. When we presented it to the board, it was unanimously turned down. Why? They had the data that told them when their visibility went up, their claims went up. That’s bad for business.
We were playing our game, they were playing their game, and guess who was playing the real game? It happens a lot. A lack of business literacy and data literacy, combined together, can give us a world of hurt in the C-suite.
Status of standards
Fidelzeid (PRWeek): Where is the PR industry in its pursuit of standardization?
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): Two years ago, a very famous tech CEO said, "Your colleagues need to understand that [business leaders] expect marketing and communications to understand our standard of proof and meet it, not develop their own."
We’ve done a lot of great work at the tactical, functional level, but we are not building analytics that really tie what we do to business value and impact.
When I was at HP, [then CEO] Mark Hurd basically told me, "Any CEO who spends time out with customers in public knows [PR’s] importance, but without the data, I have to prove it. I have no choice but to keep you small and defensible." That is the real clarion call to action for all of us.
Hugley (Weber): Part of it is rethinking the energy we’re putting towards standards in the industry. Establishing a standard of data literacy within our profession is what needs to happen. We also have to think about how to better game the search system because, regardless of what we’re measuring, there are algorithms that change almost daily that we have no line of sight into.
Donahue (4A’s): In the Harvard Business Review’s July-August issue there was a feature on the new marketing organization. More than 10,000 interviews conducted. A key takeaway was that in a corporation – and PR can be so important to this – there are silos that exist that must be broken down. There’s a CEO silo, CFO silo, procurement silo, and marketing silo.
What became clear was that the marketing people, informed by PR, by advertising, by experience marketing, have to become business partners in the company. They must go to the enterprise strategy and do the things that play to that and not to their own silo.
Hugley (Weber): Referencing the 2007 book Competing on Analytics, the first thing it talks about is breaking down the silos and the culture change that needs to happen within an organization and that’s what defines data success. It’s not access to the data. It’s how it is operationalized internally.
Germaine (Ketchum): Way too often, we, within our own microcosm of the world, say, "OK, we’re going to develop standards and it’s going to be this," but we have no way to connect that to the business results of the organization. If we’re going to create standards, we must be able to prove that standard X of how everything will be measured does actually drive the business.
Even impressions. Say you get 1 billion. If you don’t know what 1 billion equals in terms of dollars for your CFO, your CEO, your procurement people, you don’t have anything.
Foster (Booz Allen): As it relates to standards, and this is probably heresy, we have sort of created a problem so we could solve it. The fact there isn’t this uniform standard set is not really getting in the way.
Let me be clear: standards are important because we need to provide guidance as our industry matures, but it’s still dynamic, so beyond that guidance, I don’t know that standards are getting in the way, or have gotten in the way, or create such a profound dilemma. We need to put the conversation around standards into context.
Standards are nice to have. We can socialize around that to some extent. But the things we do in PR are never apples-to-apples, be it investment, time, or impact. And the programs we do differ greatly based on each client. To do what we do most effectively, you identify a problem and measure around it.
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): You just mentioned impact. But we need to focus on the business definition of impact, which is a universal definition we can all agree with and cuts across profit, nonprofit, all industries. The ability to show that kind of impact is one of the reasons why, in some industries, paid- and owned-oriented professionals have more credence with the C-suite.
In the not so distant past, many PR pros would believe if they got an article about a client, their job was done. That was their ROI, right? Well, the CFO would say that the PR pros don’t even understand what ROI is. ROI is a cash-on-cash number. It’s not what you paid for and got for your money.
Burke (BurrellesLuce): The great equalizer in all business is the P&L. However you’re contributing to it or detracting from it, that’s the end result. And you can show the matter-of-fact correlation of communications to that. Trying to do anything more than that, beyond your sphere of impact, is where we lose credibility. That’s probably the bigger challenge we have of not only trying to gain credibility, but the credibility that is lost by putting out these ghost metrics.
Donahue (4A’s): One of the key metrics to a company is cash flow, obviously. The Marketing Science Institute, in conjunction with the 4A’s, has conducted research that underscores this: If you are able to create a message or an experience and then allow users to participate in that, co-create the meaning of that, you will have a disproportionate impact on the power users in a franchise. And, not coincidentally, that plays right into the wheelhouse of what PR can do.
Such efforts create brand loyalty and improve short-term cash flow because you don’t have to promote as much against that and give money away. Tell that story up the line, have evidence of that, and then the CFO and even the procurement people will see the impact of PR in a way they might have never thought about before.
Stokes (MMC): The term "standards" is used very loosely. "It’s industry standard to do X or it’s standard practice to do Y," people say, when what they are really talking about is best practices, which is different than standards. Particularly in social media, it’s extremely hard to pinpoint. Often it’s the platforms themselves that are defining standards that really are within their own channel and that serve their objectives, which could be selling ads.
At the end of the day, it’s the consumers who are determining what is and is not acceptable to them from the standpoint of what companies and brands are doing. That’s when you get terms such as "netiquette." Even that is a squishy best practice, but it’s not an official standard written anywhere.
Hugley (Weber): Another thing to which we should also be sensitive is the ability of standards to stifle. We can get so anchored by the standards we put in place, that have served us well to this point, but that do not help us evolve quickly enough in a communications environment that is changing rapidly.
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): We ought to be working more on disruption.
Weber (GfK): The standards in PR seem prescriptive, rather than holding people to a standard. What about some basics about transparency? You can do an experiment, but you need to be willing to be transparent about it to your client and to anybody who wants to pressure test. That’s the standard we often live to in the research industry.
Hugley (Weber): Some of that exists with efforts such as the Barcelona Principles, which definitely touch on transparency. There are efforts to really put forth standards and go through the rigorous testing and implementation. But we definitely have to be mindful of overreliance on models that may have served us well to date, but might not be what serves our industry best going forward.
Germaine (Ketchum): The whole landscape is changing, so is a standard today going to be relevant in two years? You will be constantly refreshing the standard, especially in social and digital.
Helping the CEO
Fidelzeid (PRWeek): Beyond proving value to the C-suite, how can marcomms measurement actually help CEOs do their job better?
Hugley (Weber): Public relations starts with the "public." We are at the forefront of understanding what matters to the public now. What is relevant? What forces are potentially working for you or against you?
It could be listening through social, understanding the response to content being put forth, tracking shifts and changes in reputation, even grasping the dynamics within an organization between what is the contribution of sub-brands versus what is the overarching halo that a master brand can provide in the public’s mind.
PR has a critical role to play in helping organizations distill that and break through with a message and compelling narrative that will resonate and potentially drive business. PR is the front line on audience intelligence.
Foster (Booz Allen): CEOs just want a little heads up sometimes, a little advance notice about bad things before they happen or some trigger alert. As we get more sophisticated in data – which we are with modeling and predictive and decision analytics – we will be providing the CEOs with one of their more powerful tools.
Of course, this will require multiple disciplines to come together and real data integration. But we will then have real insights into how information will move or how customer segments will react to certain things. PR’s ability to get into that and have those conversations is a game-changer for the industry.
Germaine (Ketchum): I’ll focus on the other part of "public relations." It’s all about relationships. What we bring to the CEO is the knowledge on how to establish, maintain, and grow relationships with all your different stakeholders. And it’s not just a bird’s-eye view solely on your customers, but it’s on policymakers and vocal groups who can either make or break you from a public-policy perspective.
Moran (Pernot Ricard): Why?" is something I ask all the time. My CEO wants to know what I’m thinking and how that can inform some of his thinking.
If you’re a true PR pro, you are also a businessperson and you’ll understand the commerciality of your business. You need to insert yourself in other places of the business, even if it might be a little uncomfortable, because that’s how you break down that marketing silo. Above all, you should be able to help the CEO ask "Why?"
Weber (GfK): My CEO tells me all the time, "The best thing you can do for me is tell me what you honestly think." There are a lot of smart, talented people within organizations that have a narrative they believe in, but it can lead to actions that will sometimes clash with reality. We need to bring in the data about that reality, even if it disrupts their internal storyline. At the end of the day, that will enable them to work better in the world.
Donahue (4A’s): I see the PR function as having two distinct tasks. One is to tell the CEO whether or not they are in line with their enterprise objectives and strategies – conceptually, philosophically, and emotionally.
PR pros also need to help CEOs understand what programs will have ongoing relevance and then those initiatives that have short-term appeal, but will run out of steam. Long-term strategy combined with quick executions. PR is the function to explain to the CEO how to balance the two.
Stokes (MMC): When building communications platforms for the CEO, it’s important to look at that individual as a brand unto himself or herself. How can we help that individual’s brand with its own set of KPIs? It’s shaping thought leadership and reputation. It’s moving the needle in share of voice and sentiment around that individual and around that brand.
PR needs to stress the importance of real-time listening, which is a great way to help the C-suite be much more nimble and credible in making decisions in the manner in which they need to be made today. Also, presenting the micro data to the CEO so they can make rational, good choices.
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): PR has a very unique position in any organization because we are one of the very few who are always talking to outside audiences. That gives us a very strong outside-in perspective. CEOs are mostly surrounded by people who have strong inside-out, agenda-based perspectives. Smart CEOs are aware of this and constantly seek new signals to help them do their job.
PR’s ability to participate in that in a strong, meaningful way, including giving that CEO a moral and ethical perspective, is key. If you have that kind of social contract with your CEO, it can be an incredibly beneficial experience.
Burke (BurrellesLuce): I work with a Harvard-educated CEO. Anyone who has the good fortune to do so realizes they truly recognize the importance of a relationship with PR. CEOs tend to be good with data, so they want to better understand the top- and bottom-line impact of communications efforts. Where we fall short is in reverting back to talking about a tactical approach when what they really want from us is just to tell them the truth.
Tell them what they don’t necessarily want to hear, but then be able to explain why that’s the truth. And explain it in a business context. "Here’s the need we’re trying to meet. Here are the resources we have internally. And if we approach things like this, here is the impact it will have on the top and bottom line."
That conversation will give you major credibility with the CEO and, in turn, build a greater partnership. And again, don’t get muddled in talking about tactics. When CEOs are speaking publicly, we always talk about the importance of sound bites, right? Well, speak to them that way. Give them small, digestible nuggets, answer the questions that are asked. They want clear, concise explanations, not hyperbole.
Informing the future
Fidelzeid (PRWeek): How can measurement work in a manner that truly informs future strategies, as opposed to solely analyzing what has been done?
Moran (Pernot Ricard): It starts with integration. At our company, we’re thinking more broadly about touch points, as opposed to the silos. That gets everyone to speak the same language.
And again, everything has to be based in the business results. Listen to what the data is telling you about getting to the consumer. If you can get to that point of view, that will inform your strategy. More than that, it enables a collective marketing approach, as opposed to just looking at what PR is doing.
Stokes (MMC): The more you look at the past, the more you can see what’s to come. At MMC, we call it trend-telligence. It’s easy to see what’s percolating right now, but the key is understanding historical patterns in behavior and conversation. You need to find the triggers that can help identify white space for companies to own, whether it’s thought leadership, customer service, or engaging Millennials. That white space can define a way of breaking through to generate a conversation that’s meaningful that also dovetails on existing activities.
Hugley (Weber): The word "measurement" implies looking back and assessing a particular activity. You need a psychological shift in thinking away from the idea of measurement and towards things such as broad analytics.
People pigeonhole themselves by starting most conversations about data by discussing it through the lens of measurement. We need to broaden that and position the data and analytic functions within our organizations as a bit more holistic, more inclusive, and allow us to ask critical questions that are outside of assessing the activity that was just completed.
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): Every CEO I’ve ever known is looking for somebody who can tell them what’s going to happen. They want to see around the corner.
The ability to do that with data and to show them a correlation and occasionally causality between "if you pull this lever, this will happen, or if you make this decision, here’s your risk" is really key. In that sense, they’re asking PR to do what they ask everybody else in the company to do.
When an engineer comes up with a new product idea and pitches it to the board, part of that business plan has to focus on what the revenues will be and how profitable they think it will be. Ultimately, they are judged by the accuracy of their prediction. PR can’t be afraid to be predictive. And data exists to allow us to do that.
Germaine (Ketchum): Marketing mix modeling was definitely a big buzz in the industry, but that is also very historic-looking. You’re looking at spend over the past few years to determine your ROI over time. How do we make that future-looking? How do we take those more traditional analytics models and make them truly predictive? You’re still using the history. It’s the same data, but it’s looking at it through a different lens and not stopping.
Donahue (4A’s): If you’re talking about PR measurement and informing future strategies, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Companies value continuity and appreciate whatever enables them to maintain that. Second, and this might be counterintuitive, is that it is not only OK to fail, but it can actually be good to fail, so long as you don’t fail the same way twice.
Remember Bob? It was the worst enterprise failure in the history of Microsoft, but not only did Bill Gates not fire the project manager, he married her, and they went on to great things.
The other factor is disruption, though that has to be done in a certain way to be effective. As [Harvard Business School professor] Clay Christensen once said, one of the problems in adopting disruption is that, oftentimes, companies will use the old model to disrupt, rather than create a new model to do so.
Stokes (MMC): Back to the point about failing. One of my favorite terms is "flawsome." The whole point of it is being willing to fail or to have flaws. That will allow you to succeed because you can course correct based on that.
Burke (BurrellesLuce): The CFO of a company would never ask for permission for an audit. It’s part of business. If you’re really looking to leverage communications across the board, you need an audit system. We call that measurement in many cases, but there has to be that audit in place for everything they are doing.
In looking forward, a basic business finance class should be required by anyone who ever wants to speak for an organization. Communicators are great with words, but they need to be able to use some of those words to make the business case.
Hugley (Weber): The natural inclination with measurement is to measure for success, but if we are anchored in accountability and proving that we won, we oftentimes create blind spots in the data that we choose to analyze.
If something didn’t work, we tend to push it to the side and ignore it. We only focus on the successes and we miss the opportunity to, in fact, be more forward looking because we’re not thinking about where was the opportunity to improve. We need to look at all of the data, not just the data we like.
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): Where does gamification fit into the measurement conversation?
Foster (Booz Allen): It’s a very important part. Not the act of playing a game, but the act of modeling in an environment that is safe – particularly where it is safe to fail. It also adds to the dataset because, within the game environment, any reality can be created. Problems can be created and we can test our ability to react in real time. It makes us a lot smarter.
Germaine (Ketchum): There’s a great opportunity and a place for gamification, but in dealing with the internal pressures of making the case that it best serves the client’s business, it’s a struggle.
Burke (BurrellesLuce): The key question is determining the experience of the clients for whom you’ve done gamification efforts. It won’t necessarily come back to ROI, but you can certainly talk about the benefit. And then you have to sell the benefit of the knowledge gained and how that will ripple through the overall organization.
It can help any brand manager make decisions steeped in something they both know and feel, as opposed to just something they feel. You can say, "I felt like this was the right decision and the data led me this way." That’s much more powerful.
Hugley (Weber): I have to go back to culture again. You will not have the data you need to inform those decisions or to create the scenarios that will make the gamification exercise meaningful unless you’ve actively prepared and put systems in place to aggregate that. If you are working in a more reactive culture, it could be a struggle.
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): Speaking of culture, why is the current culture of PR such that so many of its practitioners don’t want to be more disruptive?
Donohue (4A’s): One of the problems is PR has a legacy, untrue as it might be at this point, of being viewed as a CEO vanity play. History says what PR did was make sure the CEO got what he wanted, as opposed to being a real business partner.
That has to be broken down and maybe it has been. I’m not a PR person, so I’d wonder what are the perceptions that exist that the industry needs to break down?
Stouse (Vaulting Ventures): We don’t understand business, we don’t understand numbers, and we don’t understand the scientific method.
Hugley (Weber): In some ways, we perpetuate that mindset. The running joke at the AMEC Summit about being afraid of data doesn’t help. Ultimately, anyone who is truly a successful PR practitioner is dealing with their own individual P&L, so they really aren’t afraid of data. This perception that data stifles creativity needs to go.
Stokes (MMC): We’re constantly defining what the PR profession is. The lines are increasingly blurring against marketing and advertising. A piece of good content could come from the advertising, but it is increasingly coming from PR, so we’re proving ourselves more and more as creators. We must be more bold to champion what we can do.
Hugley (Weber): PR can do not just the tactical and comms execution, but also the analytical part.
Stokes (MMC): The onus is on the clients, too. The silos still exist and many clients are not necessarily organized in a way that optimizes their partnership with us.