PR War vs. PR Battle – Crisis Communications

By Mark Macias

A General must sometimes lose a battle to win a war. That tactic can also be applied to crisis communications.

When a crisis situation hits your business, remember that war adage because sometimes, losing a small customer service battle will help you win the larger public relations war.

It’s an older example from my crisis communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media, but it is a situation that applies to any business today.

How the PR Battle Begins

In December 2007, a Las Vegas man sued his gym for gender discrimination. He filed a formal complaint with the state, alleging the health club was giving preferential treatment to women, which he claimed was discrimination.

This news story had larger ramifications across Nevada since it could potentially end all “Ladies Nights” at bars that offered free drinks to women.

Making matters worse for the gym, the angry customer was vocal with the media.

“Imagine a whites-only country club or whites-get-in-free deal or something like that,” the gym member said. “When things are based on race, we have kind of a knee-jerk reaction because we’ve had poor race relations in America for 400 years now. But when it comes to treating people the same based on sex, that’s much more recent in our memory.”

The gym manager refused to give the member a discount and the PR nightmare grew. The health club was now dealing with national negative publicity that could ruin the pricing structure for bars, nightclubs and casinos. The owner of that gym made many enemies with just one discount refusal. And to think it all would have gone away by appeasing one customer.

Stopping the PR Battle from Becoming a PR War

The health club could have diffused the negative story by saying they were trying a new marketing approach to get more women into their health club, or to even it out.

Management could have added they were reviewing the policy to see if it was fair for men and women. The club could have said they were researching similar discounts that appealed just to men.

But, the club didn’t take that approach. Instead, they went on the attack and the negative publicity got worse.

“Our men are very, very happy with how we conduct our business,” the vice president of the company said. “This particular person is the only one who has had a problem with it. There are legitimate discrimination issues out there, and I wish he’d spend his time addressing those that really need addressing.”

Never turn an angry customer into a victim. You don’t want to give the perception that the victim is really a victim. Don’t give the public a reason to root against you.

There will always be an angry customer. If you get an expressive angry customer, make sure you tread lightly in the battle or risk waging war with others.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

 

 

How to Measure PR ROI

By Mark Macias

Measuring the ROI from a marketing or ad buy is fairly straight-forward, but PR has variables that can make it more difficult to asses the direct impact on the bottom line. But contrary to what most entrepreneurs believe about Public Relations being nebulous, it is possible to measure its effectiveness.

Here are six different methods to help you measure the ROI of any PR campaign:

ROI of Media Placements

In addition to the number of media placements secured by your PR firm, you should look closely at the internal distribution numbers and demographics reached from your media outreach. Many news organizations publish these numbers on their advertising pages, giving you insight into how many or what type of consumers you are reaching. This assessment can give you a measurable look at the number of consumers your PR campaign is reaching. If you look closely at the demographics, you can also determine if you are reaching the right consumer or businesses.

ROI of Credibility

Public Relations is especially effective and measurable when it comes to increasing your credibility in the service sector industries. Consumers want to know that your service has been vetted and is reliable. If you’re a hedge fund portfolio manager, potential investors will assume you are a better money manager if you’re an expert on CNBC or in the WSJ. You’re less likely to be a scam artist if the media is talking about you. This increased credibility will improve your profile with potential clients and lead to more sales.

PR ROI with Sales

It’s very difficult for a PR firm to assess the ROI from sales if the client doesn’t share internal information, however every business owner should be able to identify where their clients are coming from. A better way to keep track of PR ROI is to create a special website link for the media campaign. If customers are typing in this direct link with any search engines, you know your PR campaign is gaining traction. Analytics and Webmaster can also tell you which websites are sending you traffic.

ROI for Search Engine Rankings

Nearly every PR story helps with your website ranking because the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) identify these websites as quality links. In other words, Google believes if the New York Times links to your website, you business must have value.

Here’s another way PR can help your website get a higher ranking with the search engines.

Smaller blogs frequently run stories or snippets from the larger media outlets. If you are able to get a large story in a major newspaper, there is a good chance that you can get other, smaller websites to also do a story promoting your business, which can help your SEO with the additional links.

ROI from Analytics

In October 2013, Google changed its analytics data, making it more difficult to determine key words that are sending traffic to your website. The good news is you can still measure the ROI from PR using Google Analytics. Unfortunately, a successful PR strategy gets your company into the conversation, so analytics can’t measure this aspect of PR, but if more people are finding your website using specific keywords for your company, you can safely assume the PR campaign is converting on its ROI. You can also use Google Webmaster to see more details on how the search engine queries to see if these news articles are also driving traffic to your site.

ROI of Social Media Influence

A successful PR campaign that uses video can become another way to measure the ROI of PR. It might be difficult to measure the exact ROI from these videos but you can measure the reach by video views. Marketing research also shows a video on your website can increase sales up to two-fold, not to mention the added SEO value it brings with search engines.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR or MarketYourFund.com