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  • Tag Archive: AirPR Analyst

    1. PR Data Insights: How to Benchmark Engagement

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      PR’s access to data has grown exponentially in the past few years, however one of the most frustrating aspects about measuring PR is the lack of industry benchmarks available.

      It’s challenging to set measurement goals without an understanding of how others in your field are faring. In fact, PR may be the last business function to have clarity around how to gauge its performance from an industry-wide perspective.

      This year, AirPR aims to change that by providing clear industry benchmarks for important metrics, like InteractionsThe whole goal of PR is to reach and activate your target audiences, so keeping tabs on changing interaction rates specifically is a must.

      To find PR’s Target Interaction Rate, which is 1.8%, we plotted the distribution of nearly 400 event and goal interaction percentages across our entire customer base, including AirPR’s own site data.

      What are events and goals, anyways?

      Events and goals are designated engagement points your website tracks by way of your analytics provider (typically Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics). Examples include demo requests, content or asset downloads, or video plays.

      This target rate of 1.8% is meant to help you better understand if the aggregate performance of your PR-driven interactions is falling above, below, or on par with the rest of your industry cohorts.

      But that’s just one way to gauge success. Another valuable way to understand performance is to zero in on the specific types of interactions that matter to your brand. While specific interactions differ from business to business, there are general categories we can delve into.

      These include events and goals tied to:

      1. Product Exploration

      Knowing which offerings potential customers are exploring can help you understand what’s of most interest or which value propositions are resonating. AirPR customers have a myriad of ways to track general product exploration.

      Two examples of events and goals that fall into the product-exploration interaction bucket are navigating from a homepage directly to a product page, or a product pricing page view. When we isolated all the events and goals tied to any type of product exploration, the average interaction rate was 2.3%.

      2. Increasing Time on Site

      Getting a potential customer to your website is only half the battle. Keeping them there long enough to explore, understand, and consider your product or service is the other half. There are many ways to increase the amount of time a visitor spends on your website.

      Two examples of events and goals that fall into the increase time-on-site bucket are when a video is played to completion or a live chat function is activated. When we isolated all the events and goals tied to increasing a visitor’s time on site, the average interaction rate was 4.7%.

      3. Product Purchase or Sign Up

      Converting a site visitor to a customer (or trial customer) is the ultimate end goal. And while not all businesses provide the explicit ability for product purchase or sign up, here are two examples of events and goals that fall into this interaction bucket: a trial download/sign up, or an order confirmation. When we isolated all the events and goals tied to product purchase or sign up, the average interaction rate was 0.8%.

      What’s most intriguing, IMHO, is to see how these average rates differ. Product exploration and increasing time on site have much higher average rates than actions that require a deeper commitment, like purchase or sign up.

      It’s also important to note that these average interaction rates are going to look different than in marketing or advertising where conversion paths are far more linear.

      PR-driven visitors might trigger different engagement points based on the content that drove them to your site in the first place. The actions taken by visitors reading a blog post could look very different than the actions taken by visitors driven by earned media.

      In the end, we hope visibility to these categories assists you in setting attainable, realistic targets for incremental growth and provides you a better understanding of the power of PR.

      Got questions about your overall interaction rate? Want to tap into this data point? Reach out to usAnd be sure to stay tuned, because we’ve got more PR benchmarks and data points to share.


    2. The Science of PR: The PRTech Ecosystem

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      Roughly five years ago, AirPR set out on a journey to change the way the PR industry thinks about and measures the impact of PR. Along with my co-founder Raj Sathyamurthi, my founding team members Rebekah Iliff and Patrick Liang, and a growing team of more than thirty engineers, sales people, customer success managers, and marketers, we are enacting the original vision and continuing our mission of “empowering PR leaders” with technology.

      While we rarely share news about ourselves on the AirPR Blog, today we have something quite exciting to share!

      Today we’ve announced our Series B funding led by Storm Ventures, with other notable investments by Salesforce Ventures and Mohr Davidow Ventures. We’re thrilled to finally let the cat out of the bag with the help of TechCrunch Senior Writer Anthony Ha. (Our greatest appreciation to Anthony!)

      In a fun game of “name that milestone”, here’s what we’ve been up to the last few years:

      To date, we have raised $10 million from investors including 500 Startups founding partner Dave McClure, Audrey Capital/WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, Correlation Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and Storm Ventures.

      In 2012, we launched Analyst—our PR analytics, insights, and measurement solution—to a select group of brands and PR professionals.

      In 2013, we publicly launched the product and, in two years, built a growing customer base including brands like Qualcomm, Experian, McGraw-Hill Education, Survios, and Kiva.

      In 2014, we coined the term “PRTech” and created an ecosystem of companies that are turning PR into more of a science, and less of an immeasurable art. We believe this PRTech ecosystem is only as impactful as our community is strong.

      In 2015, we launched a Reporting suite to our customers, and gave PR pros hours of their precious time back, shrinking their reporting duties from eight hours to 45 minutes on average.

      As of today, our talented engineers have built a full-scale web crawler from scratch, engineered the first PR attribution model, and built a product that processes over 10 TB of data a day and over 700 million articles. We are also an official partner of Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics.

      Our PR engineering team (aka customer success) continues its obsession with customer education, ultimately allowing our customers to showcase outcomes that matter to the C-Suite including: increased site traffic, engagement, key trends, competitive analysis, message pull-through, and more.

      As we celebrate this AirPR milestone and this month of giving thanks, we are certainly grateful to you. Without our customers, industry supporters, media partners, and all of our previous and current investors, we wouldn’t be here!

      Cheers to collectively propelling the PR industry forward. We’re excited to have you along for the ride…

    3. Reporting on the state of the PR industry

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      Nearly five years ago to date, when I was still in my twenties and San Francisco rent didn’t eat up half of one’s salary (imagine that!), I set out to solve a problem that many said would be “nearly impossible to do.” As any entrepreneur would, I thought: “PERFECT! I’m in.”

      I managed to convince two extremely brilliant computer science engineers and one idealistic PR domain expert to join me for the early stage ride…and ride we did.

      After the sale of our first product line, Marketplace, in early 2015 and with our focus now squarely on helping our customers showcase PR value through our Analyst product (Analytics, Insights, and Measurement), we’ve seen marked growth in both company size and revenue.

      We currently serve customers ranging from Qualcomm and McGraw-Hill Education to Experian and Kiva. We hit our success milestones early and are certainly proud of the product we’ve built, the talent we’ve attracted to join us, and the customers with whom we work every day to solve problems.

      AirPR Analyst PR reporting sampleAfter five years and as we launch our Reporting product this week (which increases PR productivity exponentially) I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. But we’ve got a ways to go as an industry.

      We still struggle to find standardization and consensus about both the PR role and how to communicate and showcase value to decision-makers. And unfortunately, some PR pros are STILL doing 2 things that should send them to PR Hell – which I imagine would consist of being forced to smile & dial 17 hours a day, repeating the same pitch over and over with no response:

      • Sending mass (note: not personalized) emails to journalists with only a press release and no context. What’s worse, these pitches are often offbeat and wholly irrelevant.
      • And perhaps more importantly: Reporting PR’s value by using Advertising Value Equivalency (AVEs), which has not only been banned by the Barcelona Principles committee but also VASTLY (and I mean VASTLY, we have data people) undervalues PR.

      While it is certainly an uphill battle of sorts, here’s what I know as fact based on over a half billion news articles we’ve tracked and analyzed over the last five years:

      1. Earned media coverage (whether it’s the New York Times, Marketing Land, or a guest post on the Google Analytics blog), is anywhere from 2 to 5 times more effective at getting potential customers to engage with your brand than traditional/digital advertising. The point? Having someone else make people aware of you is extremely important and generates curiosity and credibility.

      2. Owned media (i.e. building your brand through your own channel) is often just as effective for top of the funnel lead generation as earned media or advertising. The caveat: DON’T talk about yourself too much if at all. Instead think “educate, entertain, and engage.

      3. Competitive intelligence is mandatory to understand what your organization is doing well and what it isn’t. Companies don’t exist in a vacuum and neither do your PR activities. Benchmarking against yourself? That’s only mildly useful. Benchmarking against your competitors gives you far more insight into how you fit into the big picture.

      4. Press releases are useful for companies that have reached brand ubiquity in a specific category, or whom are required to make public statements of record for either investors or shareholders. Newswires are a commoditized channel for reporting news. They shouldn’t be used in attempt to build a story or a narrative, but rather to report facts.

      5. If specific, trackable metrics and KPIs (blog sign-ups, demo requests, etc.) don’t exist for PR, then you are simply doing a brand building and mindshare exercise. Which is completely fine and these things are important. But it’s going to be very hard to quantify in a meaningful way, thus making it nearly impossible to “make a case” for PR to a data-driven decision-maker (think CEO, CMO). Moral of the story? It’s important to categorically understand whether something will have a “qualitative” or “quantitative” metric.

      6. All publishers are not created equal, and it’s impossible to know which outlet will get you the most “ROI” without some historical data or without asking the right question in terms of what you are trying to “measure” and who are you trying to reach. Which again makes the point for gathering data sooner than later. The point: Don’t ask “which publication will get us the most reach or impressions?” But rather “which publication will get the most people to engage with our brand in a meaningful way?” Then A/B/C test the hell out of your hypothesis.

      7. Social media amplification is not always a proxy for a successful PR campaign. It is simply a signal and one particular part of the equation. While social media share counts (except of course, ahhhem, Twitter) are useful for understanding whether your HEADLINE is interesting (did someone say clickbait?), it only tells part of the engagement story.

      If you’re a PR pro who already gets all this, then you are AMAZING and you should ask for a raise! But if you read this, scratch your head and go “Whaaaa?” it’s time for a PR reboot.

      For PR/Comms pros, CMOs, and content producers everywhere…this industry isn’t getting any easier to navigate. If our data tells us anything, it’s that unless you prioritize the auto-aggregation and reporting of your PR efforts you will waste valuable human capital and budget.

      And when you DO finally decide to do the analysis, what you will surely find is that at least 75% to 80% of it has been a complete wash. All that is to say…you’re better off jumping on the bandwagon now.

      In the meantime…we will continue to run towards the light, along with anyone who is willing to join us!

    4. The new PR narrative: we’ve got data, people


      This week, I published an article on Inc.com entitled “Marketing in the age of the customer.” It revolves around 2 important aspects of the future of marketing, in which PR plays an important role: data and the customer.

      TechCrunch-Analyst-quoteFour weeks ago, I sat in a Think Tank at Dell World 2013 with about 20 of the world’s leading CMOs, CIOs, and Analysts who discussed (at length) how to bridge the gap between marketing and technology as the world (and subsequently businesses) become more data-driven.

      Twelve weeks ago, AirPR did a press launch of our second product, Analyst, which garnered media attention in TechCrunch, Bloomberg Businessweek, FastCompany, VentureBeat, The Next Web, PR Week, and a slew of others.

      NOTE: We didn’t send out a press release. And we only talked to about fifteen journalists.

      Over one year ago, we started getting into “social” conversations, posting blogs, hosting roundtables, and having discussions with the smartest people we knew in the PR space – particularly with thoughts about PR measurement.

      Two years ago, we started building Analyst, even before we publicly launched our first product, Marketplace.

      Why the backwards timeline?

      Because there is an important lesson to be learned, and it’s important to share:

      PR is not a one-shot effort you apply to your marketing cycle. And it has very little to do with press. The press is there to drive forward YOUR narrative. The one you have shaped. The one in which you are passionately invested.

      PR is, quite frankly, a fundamental layer to your business, just like social now is.

      You don’t become a “thought leader” overnight (re: Inc.com publishing something or sitting in on Think Tanks with leading CMOs).

      Journalists don’t care about your story until it aligns with trends or takes away a major pain to which everyone can relate so theyFastCompany-Analyst-quote can drive traffic and prove their value to publishers (re: several mainstream publications writing about our Analyst launch).

      What we learned, using our own product (Analyst) is that while media is an important aspect to building your brand, it’s still the quality and relevance of the story that matters. And about 13190123 other things that I won’t get into here.

      It takes thousands of meaningful conversations both online and offline. Hundreds of email exchanges aimed at individuals not publishers. And about fifty trips to a therapist’s office.

      Furthermore, it takes a solid foundation and understanding of what value you bring to the table so that your customers “get it” within a very short period of time.

      Otherwise you are just swatting at flies.

      So with that context in mind – today we are making an argument for why Analyst is so important to this overall shift in the PR narrative.

      In 8 steps, here is why we are relevant, and here’s what we’re doing to change the industry…

      #1 The PR shift

      With the proliferation of technology and the democratization of information via the Internet over the past decade, the PR landscape has certainly changed. What once revolved (mostly) around securing stories in local, regional, and national print and broadcast outlets, has shifted and exploded to include social media and content marketing as digital quickly became the leading (if not preferred) source of information exchange and storytelling.

      #2 The PR pro challenge

      It is no longer about having a long-term relationship with a beat reporter you’ve known for 10 years…it has evolved into the speedy distribution of content and driving leads to digital real estate (website, blog, social media channels). PR pros, then, have become more like content creators and conversationalists who must understand thousands of data points instead of merely understanding what beat or topic a journalist covers.

      Bloomberg-Analyst-Quote#3 The Journalist of today

      PR professionals are certainly not the only players in the digital-shift game; journalists, who are now outnumbered by PR flacks at an astounding 4:1, are also under scrutiny as pressure mounts for them to produce stories that are sharable and traffic-generating. All of this while they attempt to weed out the thousands of irrelevant and terrible pitches they receive on a regular basis.

      #4 Companies and brands driven by data

      The last player in the PR game, the company/brand, who can now see the possibilities of data to make better decisions in terms of Advertising spends, expect the same transparency and analytics-based outcomes for its PR cousin – or red-headed stepchild, depending on your take.

      #5 Modern PR solutions

      The result of this shift is a variety of PR software companies and “social listening” technologies that can track digital media and social activity to tell you when you show up in search results, certain outlets, or various media channels; and if you have access to that data you can somewhat see what information is resonating, how many eyeballs have seen your news, and how many visitors have come to your website.

      #6 Information vs. insight

      But what you can’t see, or understand for that matter, is what that means in terms of your bottom line or your brand, nor can you see how your PR outcomes compare to your competitors. In other words, you have a lot of information, but little insight.

      Agencies and internal marketing communications folks still need a vast amount of human capital to extrapolate the data and create something meaningful out of it. And these extrapolations remain largely subjective in nature and are often at the whim of CMOs, CEOs, and “name that C-suite exec” who randomly decides what is important for that month, quarter, or year.

      # 7 Signal-to-noise ratio

      PR monitoring and tracking solutions often pump out a lot of noise (unwanted signal) to a relatively distorted signal (meaningful information).

      AirPR Analyst cuts through the fat and offers top-level insights around data that matters to your business objectives: data derived from specific PR initiatives in the digital realm.

      In other words, Analyst blocks the noise and diffuses the signal into digestible, actionable data: more meaningful information, less unwanted signal.

      #8 The outcome

      This increase in the signal-to-noise ratio empowers brands and the agencies that represent them. When decision makers understand what’s working and what isn’t, they can “double down” on certain aspects, eliminate others, and make impactful budget allocations for future PR campaigns, much like they do for Advertising.

      Well there you have it.

      That’s about as clear as we can get as to why Analyst is relevant.

      Our job, as a technology company driven by data – but keenly aware of how humans actually use data – is to shift the narrative so that PR becomes an activity bolstered by data, yet free to apply creative thought and strategic insights.

      These two things, when working together, will most certainly lift the PR image and shift industry thinking…

    5. PR Measurement quiz: this could make you really rich

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      PR Measurement QuizIn celebratory celebration of the rolling press launch for our newest product, AirPR Analyst (PR Analytics = oh good I can see what’s working), which will continue over the next week – assuming the Twitter IPO doesn’t completely steal our thunder (GRRRR!) – I thought it would be entertaining to post a very serious PR Measurement Quiz.

      This PR measurement quiz is the culmination of over a decade of PR experience and is based on the input of nearly 1,000 PR professionals, marketers, and clients – give or take.

      This quiz will take you less than a minute to fill out. If it takes more time than that, call me and I will point you in the direction of a very talented therapist who is adept at helping overly-analytical-slash-anal-retentive people become less so.

      [Here are the Top 5 unofficial signs that you may fall into the above category]

      I took the quiz already as evidenced by the accompanying image. This is a pretty cool “carrot” to incentivize you to take the quiz. Furthermore, when you possess a certificate of your own, you can rest assured that you are completely qualified to measure PR.

      Go forth!

      PR Measurement Quiz