FUN FACT ALERT: Did you know over 80% of consumers today now consult online reviews before making a purchase? This may seem #captainobvious to you in today’s smartphone-saturated world, but there is more than meets the eye beyond the number of Yelp stars on a business page.
In Everyone’s a Critic, Bill Tancer (New York Times Best Selling author of Click, who also happens to be one of our trusted AirPR Advisors) takes the first in-depth look into the world of online reviews and how sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and many others are changing the way we interact and make buying decisions. As Mr.Tancer aptly states: “Today everything is reviewable”.
Now if that isn’t some serious pre-Halloween fright, I don’t know what is.
Do you remember when online reviews first hit the scene? It was a terrifying, heart-wrenching, reality check for many. To a certain extent, fear of a bad review is what drove professionals to pay attention to peoples’ online feedback, but what was uncovered proved to be so much more.
Once the initial shock factor wore off, businesses large and small recognized that reviews actually provided a wealth of useful (and untapped) customer information. The feedback loop was driven by transparency and thus unearthed incredible insights businesses could use to drive customer preference and choice.
So, what has this got to do with PR?
Candidly: A whole-heckava-lot.
In my opinion, the fear most business owners have about online reviews is akin to a PR pros fear of “being measured.”
Particularly for a business owner who toils away day after day at her restaurant, nail salon, or insert any other customer-supported shop, online reviews can single-handedly make or break the business in many cases.
Likewise, as PR pros, there are so many intangibles involved in running a successful campaign that being asked to “measure success” by the numbers only seems short-sided; but for better or for worse, this where the industry is moving.
Much like a small business owner can cull useful insights from online reviews that facilitate more informed, future decision making, as PR practitioners we should view data as “information” that can be useful in guiding our efforts and offering our clients or companies a more robust picture of what is and isn’t working.
Sure, it’s terrifying at first to have the veil lifted, but the knowledge (and time) gained from applying these insights is invaluable. With concrete metrics, PR is able to “prove” its value, and cement its seat at the table as key driver of business decisions.
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Read more about what PR should be measuring here and here.