A few months ago, after considerable vetting and research, I joined AirPR, the data science company for PR and Communications, as their CEO. I was intrigued by the story of its co-founders who had invented PR Attribution™ – a credible way to tie corporate communications to real business outcomes, i.e. the holy grail of marketing measurement.
As I dug deeper, I learned that the team had also invented the Power of Voice™ metric, essentially an intelligent share of voice metric. Power of Voice is both universally applicable and far superior to the existing state of the art which includes press clip counts or media mentions and tortured vanity metrics like Impressions or Advertising Value Equivalents (AVE’s).
At that point, I could no longer resist the gravity of the innovative spirit and the team committed to advancing the practice of Communications and Public Relations. Those important corporate functions have somewhat lagged the digital transformation that has improved virtually every other corporate function.
I believe superior communications make all other commercially facing functions more successful. Most CEOs, CMOs, and CROs know this intuitively but underinvest in the various forms of PR (Paid, Owned, and Earned), because there has not been a consistent, credible measurement system for PR…until AirPR came along and started pushing the industry forward. The same under investment typically occurs in related functions that have been hard to measure such as Investor Relations, Corporate Affairs, and Government Affairs.
PR and Communications have been overtaken by other areas of marketing because the marketing pendulum has swung toward metrics, accountability, and direct credit for revenue generation to a degree never seen before. I have witnessed similar things happen time and again in my career – unmeasured, unaccountable areas tend to wither in corporate environments. On the other hand, quantitatively measured areas can actually receive over-investment merely because of the confidence created by the measurement system.
But new forms of measurement are not necessarily sufficient to command re-investment in an industry or function. People also need a tool kit to enable them to move the needle put in place by the measurement system. The fact that AirPR had also built a diagnostic analytics platform and the biggest news aggregator and content cloud in the business was icing on the cake for me when I was investigating the company’s capabilities.
The integrated system is important for several reasons. First of all, when one starts with more data, one has the opportunity to produce better metrics and insights. Secondly, because the platform was built entirely in-house by the same engineering team, as opposed to having been cobbled together via acquisition or through the renting of various components, the system is easier to improve over time. Lastly, and most importantly, PR departments, their agencies, and the users are truly empowered to find the insights and develop the data based strategies that will move the new metrics by which they can display their valuable contributions.
I founded Vizu, the pioneering company in real time digital brand advertising measurement, which was bought by Nielsen in 2012. At Vizu, it was not enough to introduce the new metric of real time Brand Lift. We had to develop the system to easily diagnose what worked and what did not work about an advertising campaign. This is what allowed advertisers, agencies, and media companies to collaborate and continually improve. Advertising, like Communications, is not a deterministic activity where everything can always go up and to the right. What is important is that practitioners can quickly understand what is driving outcomes and that they adjust accordingly.
Historically, many Communications and PR professionals resisted measurement because they had little ability to reliably understand the dynamics behind the metrics, much less systematically influence the metrics. That is rational behavior, and the same was true in many other recently transformed corporate functions like sales and marketing, but even in less directly related functions such as HR and procurement.
It was evident to me as I talked to AirPR customers and users during my diligence process, that a new wave of confident PR and Communications professionals are turning the tide. They are embracing the responsibility, power, and growth that come from implementing robust, reliable performance metrics and the systems to methodically understand and drive them. They want a better seat at the corporate table and are proactively earning it. These are the people that I am excited to serve and to watch blossom.
To learn more about our new CEO Dan Beltramo, visit his LinkedIn.