Adam Singer on analytics, Jack Bauer, and PR success



Posted: In: Blogs Interviews

When you’re a relatively new company, attempting to do something please don’t say disruptive or innovative here um, hmmmm, new… it’s extremely important to watch for influencers in your industry who have insights or opinions about what you’re doing.

Exhibit A: “Adam takes off the gloves”

AS rant

Adam Singer, who currently spends his days at the Google Compound Complex as Analytics Advocate, and moonlights as a forward thinking PR critic and founder of The Future Buzz, is one such person.

As you can see from Exhibit A, when we publicly launched our first product (Marketplace) he had a few opinions…which we welcomed.

OH! How boring life would be without challengers and dissenters!

Over the past year we’ve visited Adam at Google, lunched with him in San Francisco, awarded him a very prestigious “PRTech Award,” and even swapped quippy company T-shirts with him. Ahh, yes, this is a true PR match made in heaven. But it did take time.

Exhibit B: “Sharam and Adam play nicey poo”


Now, we bring you this illustrious – if not “coming out of sorts” – interview with one of our favorite Advocates.

Rebekah Iliff: Let’s start with an easy one. Can you tell us about your background and how your experience with PR has shaped your story?

Adam Singer: While in college, I was a total geek and created websites and grew digital communities in my free time (and monetized them instead of getting a part-time job). It was only after I entered the workforce and decided to get a “real job” that I ended up getting a trial by fire in PR. After my internship I ended up being hired as an account executive for a PR agency in Fort Lauderdale in 2005.

I hadn’t really studied PR save for a few journalism electives in college, but it turned out that my experience as a geek prepared me really well for the “new world” of PR.

Thrusting a social web, power user into the mix of a traditional PR agency early on proved to be valuable experience not just for me, but for my agency who promoted me from an account executive, to manager, to ultimately digital director within my first two years.

RI: Currently you are a Analytics Advocate at Google. We’re pretty big fans of analytics here at AirPR. Where are you seeing the greatest struggles (and opportunities) in the world of measurement right now?

AS: It really depends on who you’re talking to: sophisticated teams want more tools, more features, and more data; and they want analytics to be bigger, faster, stronger. While on the other hand, brands still new to analytics are asking for simpler tools and automation to help them get from data to insights and action.

I’d say the biggest struggle and opportunity remains talent (as I’ve blogged before, this post outlines just how real the talent gap is). It’s such an opportunity to become a data-driven marketer right now everyone should be thinking about this. If you want a place to get started at improving your analysis skills check out our Analytics Academy MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).

RI: You’ve jokingly said that everything about PR has already been said. But what about PR measurement?

AS: So this is a great question. I have literally answered this exactly (3 tips) in a column I wrote recently for ClickZ. But since you asked, let’s give one immediately actionable tip here.

One easy thing for PR pros to do (which most do not do) is prove their worth and go further down the funnel. So, don’t just track “placements” — track sources that send traffic — and conversions. If you don’t do this, it is likely another team or agency that works with you will take credit. Yet it is simple to report and use to make decisions. You can do this right now. Just log into Google Analytics or your favorite web analytics tool and access referring sources.

Here’s a look at a sample site – I’ve highlighted in red the media sending the site traffic:

AS stats

If more media placements that send web traffic is one of your goals, all you need to do next is analyze what they linked to and why they linked there by slicing and dicing the data. From there, you can easily see what content was successful in attracting traffic from media; then replicate that success, or re-promote to those media outlets you know already like linking to you.

RI: We absolutely love your blog the future buzz. Can you tell us a little more about the where you find topic inspiration and 1-2 pieces of content you’re particularly proud of?

AS: Thanks! I don’t think I’m “proud” of any single piece of content I create there more than another, I see blogging as a metacognitive process of my life. It’s a sort of “mental exhaust” where I can put my thoughts or observations onto paper. It’s cathartic. But I guess if I had to pick two timeless posts I like it would be my life advice for 20-somethings or why you should be more like Jack Bauer.

RI: If storytelling is at the heart of PR and the use of data transforms PR into something accountable and actionable, what is one example you’ve seen where data has driven an incredibly compelling story?

AS:  really liked what OKCupid used to do to tell visual stories using data on their blog, OkTrends. The blog is no longer updated (but still is live and worth visiting at the previous link). They shared original research and insights from their free Internet dating site (which is still very active). The blog compiles observations and statistics from hundreds of millions of OkCupid user interactions, all to explore the data side of the online dating world in a way that is accessible to everyone.


Visualizations helped them attract millions of visitors, thousands of shares and hundreds of comments per story as well as consistently were referenced by media and bloggers helping the OKCupid brand gain traction.

RI: Tool time! Give us 5 Google products that would be useful for PR pros trying to optimize their content marketing strategies.

AS: Google Analytics (measure your campaigns, make better decisions), Google Trends (research competitors, know what’s hot in your industry), Google AdWords (protect your brand in search, amplify your campaigns), Google Databoard (visualize Google research) and of course sharing video on YouTube.

RI: We’ve agreed that the next big thing in PR is about being better about “process and reporting” while also thinking creatively about how to tell stories. Do you have any final words of wisdom to help pros think beyond the same old PR modus operandi?

AS: Yes: think critically about your measurement plan and remember to consider success for clients, campaigns and programs up front. And then don’t just measure, have goals and predictions before you begin. If you start to do this you’ll get increasingly better at knowing results, managing expectation and ultimately creating success.

Also, never stop learning. The media and marketing industries are undergoing constant change and understanding that change is critical to your own success. The best way to continue to be successful as a digital professional is to continue to go through the process yourself with new tools, technologies and platforms. Then you’ll be best positioned to advise clients and improve your own team’s practice.

Follow @AdamSinger

Read The Future Buzz