5 Common Client Misconceptions About Public Relations

Public relations is enjoying a bit of a resurgence these days as a method of raising a brand’s visibility.

75 percent of marketers say they plan to increase PR spending over the next five years, says a report conducted by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the USC Center for Public Relations at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

In spite of this rise in popularity, PR isn’t nearly as effective when a client has misconceptions about how it works.

Here are a few common client misconceptions about PR:

1)      PR Works in a Vacuum

It seems that some clients believe they can hire a PR firm to come in and magically wave a wand to get them the visibility they so desperately want. Sometimes, the client may think they can check out, and the PR firm will do the rest.

We in PR know it doesn’t work that way. For the relationship to be most effective, the client needs to engage with the agency or consultant. Without input from the client, both proactive and reactive, the effort may not go very far. If you don’t have the time to engage with your PR team, now may not be the right time to engage in a public relations effort. It’s a two-way street – not a one-man show.

2)      Results from a Dedicated PR Effort Happen Overnight

In reality, it takes a little longer. As with content marketing, SEO, or any marketing strategy, results from PR can take some time. If a client believes that one press release or campaign is going to blow up and go viral, you may want to direct them to another firm.

It takes an ongoing, consistent effort to achieve the kind of results most clients want. Be sure to set expectations up front, so there are no misunderstandings later.

3)      PR Results Are Guaranteed

I was talking with a colleague recently who said something along the lines of, “PR is a gamble.”

There are PR pros who will tell clients this up front—and some who won’t. Clients need to understand that the results of a PR effort are NOT guaranteed. It’s not like buying an ad, which means you know what day it will appear and what it will say.

Because earned media relies on journalists who are pulled in many directions, there’s no guarantee that a story will appear or what it will say. It’s a PR pro’s job to open the door of opportunity for the client. What happens after that is somewhat out of our hands.

An interview is simply that – an interview. It’s not a promise of a published story,” said Teena Maddox, Senior Writer for TechRepublic,

4)      PR Pros Control What Journalists Publish—and When

Yes, per #3, PR can open the door to opportunities—but what ends up in the finished story isn’t up to us. Sources can be cut as a story evolves. Stories can be killed due to breaking news. There are elements of the publishing process that are simply out of PR’s control.

Clients need to understand this, so they don’t enter a PR engagement believing that public relations pros have complete control. We’re on the media outlet’s timeline – not the other way around.

5)      Clients Just Sign off on What PR Pros Provide

This goes back to engagement. If a PR pro sends a client a document, he or she expects feedback – not only approval with no comments. This happens far too often. It makes us wonder, “Did the client even read what we wrote?”

Clients need to invest the time to read what we send and provide input. Or sometimes, we may need to bounce ideas around. Or we may want the client to proactively send us an industry article they saw that might pertain to an angle we may be thinking of pitching.

The point is, a healthy relationship should go beyond rubberstamping what the PR team provides.

Dispel Client Misconceptions About Public Relations with Education

PR can do wonders for a company that’s ready to engage and understands the value PR can provide. For the best success with your clients, be sure to have an open dialogue and educate them about what PR is—and what it isn’t.

Even if you can’t ensure clients have suitable expectations of what PR brings to the table, you can ensure that you’re up on industry expectations of a modern PR pro by downloading our ebook on the topic.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 5.03.54 PM.png

Top 10 social media KPIs for the modern PR professional

For PR professionals, there’s no denying the value of social media. Because of its impressive capabilities, we can drive consumer spending, engage with audiences and respond to crisis in record time – and with less money.

But in a corporate landscape where budgets rely on tangible results – how do you successfully measure your digital efforts in order to prove ROI? Is there a way to know if your social content influenced the right consumers at the right time? And how do you demonstrate all of this information to the C-suite?

In order to prove the value of social media – and ensure your team’s digital marketing efforts aren’t going to waste – you’ll need to measure your online activity in terms of reach, engagement and ROI.

Here are the top ten social media KPIs you should be measuring every day:


Measuring reach won’t tell you if your followers converted to paying customers – but it will tell you if your messaging and content is appropriate for your target audience.Therefore, measuring reach is an important first step.


The number of followers you have will tell you how many people see your content, and is an easy way to understand your target market’s demographic.

2. Share of voice

Share of voice is your social media performance in relation to your competitors. Knowing your share of voice will tell you where to focus your efforts in order to be part of more conversations online.

3. Traffic

Knowing how many people visit your webpage and/or your social media profile/page is another key metric to consider. If web traffic isn’t converting to likes/follows, you’ll want to change your strategy – and fast.


Engagement refers to how your target audience or followers interact with your content online, and is the ‘conversation’ you have with your online consumers.

4. Likes/comments

Measuring likes and comments will show you how your content is being received by your target audience. This tells you what content to continue in the future and what to remove or change. Reading comments also provides you with real-time customer feedback.


Post shares will separate your fans from your raving fans – and will tell you who to engage with in order to build brand loyalty.

6. Mentions

Mentions are important because they measure the conversations being had about your brand outside of your immediate pages or profiles. You want to measure the sentiment of these mentions to ensure you’re not receiving negative reviews or comments on platforms you’re not active on or on pages you’re not necessarily monitoring.

7. Click-throughs

This is how many of your followers or page-viewers clicked on your webpage link. You want these click-throughs to convert to paying customers.


These are the tangible metrics you can use to prove how your social media efforts resulted in paying customers.

8. Hashtags

Asking customers to use an exclusive hashtag when posting about a product or service is a great way to measure campaign success.

9. Special codes

Telling your social media followers to use special discount codes at checkout is another great way to find out if your social campaign drove sales.

10. Surveys

The best way to find out if your social media activity resulted in webpage visitors and/or paying customers is to ask them. Simple survey questions like ‘how did you find out about us?’ or ‘do you follow us on social media?’ will categorize your customers into social followers and non-social followers.

With media monitoring software like Meltwater, measuring social media KPIs is simple. And with the insights you gather from social media, you’ll have no trouble converting your online efforts into proven results the C-suite can appreciate.

About the author:

Mimrah Mahmood is the Asia-Pacific Regional Director of Media Solutions at Meltwater, where he helps numerous organisations break down media data (social, print and other), to create meaningful insights; build progressive and scientific frameworks to track efforts in PR and marketing; build road-maps to improve communications plans; and identify opportunities and threats that arise from competitors.

Want to find out how Meltwater can help deliver brand insights and competitive intelligence for your company? Click below!

What are the five most important questions to ask any media intelligence vendor? [VIDEO]

What are the five most important questions to ask any media intelligence vendor?

The number of media measurement tools available online has grown exponentially, affording the opportunity for PR professionals to learn more about their audiences and how they behave. While they are valuable – particularly since the advent of social media – the sheer volume has produced an oversaturated market where the amount of data available makes it difficult to outline what is and isn’t contributing to the success of a campaign.

To ensure a measurement software provider is right for you, we recommend you map out you or your client’s exact requirements before subscribing. Outline your PR objectives and ask some simple questions like how big their source database is, or if they have the knowledge and background to provide detailed information about a particular industry. Also, look at the breadth of their coverage and size of marginal errors – these important details will make a world of difference to your next campaign and will guarantee profitable and meaningful results.

Some questions to consider –

  1. How big is their source database? What types of outlets do they cover?

You want to ensure their source database includes all of the media you intend to engage with – including outlets from your first, second and third tiers. If you want a rounded summary of your PR efforts, you’ll need them to cover earned, owned and paid media.

2. How can they help you measure and identify the right metrics to quantify your PR efforts more accurately?

This is the nitty-gritty stuff. You want to look at the types of measurements they provide – do you want a simple media monitoring service, or a service with multi-measurement frameworks that explain more about your audience? Consider their measurement accuracy and read reviews.

3. How fast can they update you?

Modern media is fast-moving so it pays to be updated in real-time – or as close to real-time as possible. Consider how and when they provide you with updates (weekly, daily, hourly) and look for services with automated email alerts.

4. Do they provide retrospective data?

Having access to old campaigns and historical data means you can mirror the elements of the campaigns that worked, and will ensure previous mistakes aren’t made twice. We recommend you have access to information from up to two years ago, benchmarking new campaigns against old ones along the way.

5. What does their support network look like?

If you’re a local agency or business, you’ll want a measurement service with local industry knowledge so you’re not wasting valuable time explaining things over the phone. If you’re a multi-national agency or business, you’ll want 24/7 support regardless of time zones and public holidays. Depending on your requirements, look for a software provider with local and/or international teams – either way, they should both be able to provide one-on-one support when and where you need it.

About the Author:

Mimrah Mahmood is the Asia-Pacific Regional Director of Media Solutions at Meltwater, where he helps numerous organisations break down media data (social, print and other), to create meaningful insights; build progressive and scientific frameworks to track efforts in PR and marketing; build road-maps to improve communications plans; and identify opportunities and threats that arise from competitors.

Want to find out how Meltwater can help deliver brand insights and competitive intelligence for your company? Click below!

Crisis Management: How 3 Brands Recovered Right Away

It might be a side effect of how many of us live online, but brand crises seem to be coming at a faster clip than ever before. Uber is a prominent example of a brand that stumbled, kept stumbling, and has yet to recover.

And while some brands have had a hard time coming up for air, others, seemingly poised for a crash, pull back in the nick of time and keep moving along as if nothing happened. By taking a closer look at how brands recovered, we might learn what makes an “almost crisis” peter off and turn into a mere blip.

Even though we believe tracking brand keywords through your media monitoring and social listening tools and keeping an eye out for early warning signs that trouble is heading your way is the best defense against full-scale crisis, it doesn’t hurt to pick up a tip or two from brands who were caught off guard.

Here Are the Ways 3 Brands Recovered

1. Wonder Woman and thinkThin®

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Wonder Woman was one of the most anticipated action films of 2017. As consumers discussed the film on social media prior to its premiere, so did brands in conference rooms. Of course, those discussions would inevitably yield cobranded promotions.

While it’s certain that a variety of snack bars were competing to have the right to sponsor a campaign around the movie, the honor went to thinkThin. Unfortunately for thinkThin, it’s their brand name that caused a disconnect with audiences’ expectation.

Everything else being equal, if the bar were named thinkHealthy, (presumably) there wouldn’t have been an almost-crisis. So what ended up happening?

Condemnation rained from mainstream media and social media for a week or so, and by the time the film was released in June 2017, there was little mention of the ill-conceived partnership. Wonder Woman went on to become a huge blockbuster neither brand was not boycotted.

Why did it blow over so quickly? Because 2017 was a hard yet empowering year for women. We started the year at the biggest international march in history and finished with large clap backs with the #metoo movement. And while they didn’t call off the campaign, neither brand promoted it on social media. There was no press release and the partnership was a trip to the premiere presumably, that continued, but there was no mea culpa or press release of the winner(s). Without increased promotion of the event, it faded from social media, as the public moved on to other pressing issues.


According to Meltwater’s Insight Reports, negative sentiment around the Wonder Woman and thinkThin® partnership’ spiked and disappeared within a week.

2. Marvel and Northrop Grumman

Timed to launch at the NYC Comic-Con, Marvel and Northrop Grumman based their partnership on an existing template: slick, branded superheroes with superpowers that embody their sponsor’s corporate values and culture. In this case, it was a new team of “Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus” superheroes fighting alongside Marvel’s popular Avengers. The goal was to highlight aerospace initiatives, STEM education, and forward-thinking technology by Northrop Grumman. Turns out Northrop Grumman’s reputation as a defense contractor rubbed comic aficionados wrong. Tellingly, one person pointed out that Tony Stark’s company produced weaponry, forcing him to turn his back on it when he realized its affects on humanity. Within 24 hours of the very vocal outcry on Twitter, the activation campaign and relationship was canceled.

Admitting that they didn’t think the partnership through, Marvel pulled out. A quick mea culpa made the almost-crisis immediately dissipate and Marvel went on to enjoy their lauded position at the NYCC.

brand recoveriesAccording to Meltwater’s Insight Reports, the Northrop Grumman and Marvel Entertainment relationship afforded both brands a spike in social media, but that quickly died down within days.

3. Bedrock “See Detroit Like We Do”

Bedrock Detroit launched a campaign whose aim was to empower their namesake city. The tagline was “See Detroit Like We Do” and included images of urban professionals enjoying a downtown life of dining out, entertainment, and work. The thing is, in planning the shoot and booking models, the campaign forgot an essential aspect of Detroit, its diversity.

Considering the levels of planning and approval these images must have gone through before being placed on posters around the metro-area, it’s a wonder that someone didn’t say, “Hey, if we’re using this tagline, should we make sure it includes different aspects of the population, whether that is skin color, age, family structure, or other socioeconomic factors?”

Once the outrage popped up, Bedrock Detroit founder, Dan Gilbert, personally issued an apology and the ad campaign was pulled. Even as the mainstream media covered the issue’s eruption on social media, the general public moved on to other matters. The question that remains is, will Bedrock be more conscientious going forward? Will they show Detroit as “a city that is open, diverse, inclusive?” Hopefully using the data that their community and audience is sharing with them about their campaigns will guide their future campaigns.

brand recoveries

According to Meltwater’s Insight Reports, the Bedrock campaign caused tonality (sentiment) to dip negatively for the Detroit realtor, but within two weeks the brand was back in the green.

PR Takeaways

Using a media monitoring and social listening platform likely assisted these brands in quickly responding to their communities. Considering how quickly decisions were made, it looks like Marvel and Bedrock Detroit had crisis plans in place. Springing into action to stem the blood flow with succinct apologies and pulling the campaigns in question requires both an agile and prepared PR team. And while those responsible for the thinkThin partnership can’t necessarily apologize for their approach (since it’s the product’s name that caused the public to react), their ability to keep their cool and step away from the ledge also indicates that a crisis plan was likely already in place. Their decision to not promote (if not quite cancel) their #thinkWonderWoman campaign resulted in social media moving on by June 8, less than a week after the film’s premiere. Every one of these brands was spared a protracted crisis by their quick thinking and prepared comms team.

To make sure you have signposts in place before your brand is mentioned in social media, download our e-book on crisis comms. Being prepared for a crisis well before you’ll need it is the easiest way to recover quickly.

Brands recovered

With The Rise In Usage Of Mobile Devices, Does This Affect PR? [VIDEO]

The advent of the smartphone and smartphone technology has fundamentally shifted the way we communicate and share information – both personally and professionally. Not only can we talk to and text those in our immediate circles; we can access all sorts of information, news and people via the touch of a button, and more recently, by voice activation – offering a world of possibilities for public relations and professional communicators.

The small screen – which most of us have constantly within reach – provides PR professionals with the ability to engage with the news and media around the clock. This means we no longer have to wait for the afternoon news bulletin or morning paper. Instead, we see and read news as it breaks, engaging in real time and hopefully responding just as fast.

While the proliferation of smartphone use has provided numerous opportunities, for many PR professionals it also means a higher level of vulnerability, increasing the chance of making errors, misinterpreting news or updating stakeholders with the wrong information at the wrong time – purely because of the sheer volume of information you need to digest quickly. To solve this, the modern PR professional needs to be more agile and responsive to relevant media and use other online tools to provide trust and accuracy when it’s needed most.

Be responsive

Today, PR professionals must constantly update their stakeholders throughout the day – keeping track of topics that are trending or gaining momentum and engaging with industry-specific news as it breaks.

As members of a fast-moving communications and business industry where tweets are buried in a matter of seconds, it’s important to not only engage with relevant media but to respond in a timely and efficient way; minimizing (or maximizing) the impact on our clients.

To be able to respond quickly, it’s important you maintain good relationships with journalists or media influencers who can share or promote your content. To do so, you need good, up-to-the-minute information on who to follow and who is interested in your sector. In addition, keep up-to-date media lists and databases on your smartphone for ease and quick access.

Use media monitoring services

It’s impossible to stay up to date with the news without the guided assistance of monitoring services. In our globalized society, news breaks 24/7 making it difficult to monitor and clip each and every relevant article. Media monitoring services are extremely beneficial to the modern PR professional because they can be tailored to fit your exact requirements, and you can even access them on your smartphone.

Use social media

Social media platforms are great ways to connect with your stakeholders. Messenger apps like Whatsapp are simple tools which you can use to update the important members of your business or community. You can also separate these conversations for specific people and news topics – keeping it streamlined and simple for everyone.

As a PR professional, your smartphone is one of your most valuable tools. However, it’s important to remember that fast-moving news sometimes results in quick and unplanned reactions – causing unwanted and potentially damaging mistakes. To avoid this, use complementary tools like monitoring and social apps. You’ll not only save time, but be more efficient and get greater results for your clients.

About the author:

As the Asia-Pacific Regional Director of Media Solutions at Meltwater, Mimrah Mahmood help organisations across the Asia-Pacific break down media data (social, print and other media) and make business decisions from insights; create a framework to progressively and scientifically track efforts in PR and marketing; build a road-map to improve your communication plan; and identify opportunities and threats that arise from competitors. As a leader within a multi-award winning company, Mimrah is proud to be advocating better measurement practices in PR, Brand and Strategic Communications for many of the largest MNCs in Asia-Pacific.

Want to find out how Meltwater can help deliver brand insights and competitive intelligence for your company? Click below!

Staying on Trend: The Importance of Monitoring Trending Topics Online

One of the most effective tactics you can implement for public relations (PR), social media and content marketing is real-time monitoring of trending topics online. Trending topics are what people are discussing online right now. For example, Twitter trends identify topics that are currently popular on the platform. What’s popular right now might not have been popular an hour ago or yesterday.

Trending topics are powerful, as they can reveal what people’s interests and intentions are – and also what is happening right now. If there is a surge in people searching online for the term ‘unemployment insurance’ for example, this could suggest that unemployment levels are rising. If you’re an expert on unemployment insurance, or if you’re in the business of providing unemployment insurance, this opens up an opportunity to share any information or advice.

At a basic level, real-time monitoring of trending topics online is a great place to start if you’re looking to brainstorm ideas for new marketing content (such as a blog post or online video) that is relevant and important to your audience.

Best-in-Class Media Outreach Is Informed by Conversation

Tech-savvy PR pros are especially interested in topics that journalists are covering. They will read articles and blog posts, listen to their podcasts, follow them on social media, and use media intelligence tools; all to help them identify the topics a journalist is interested in based on what they are writing about. If you know what interests influencers, journalists, and your intended audience, you can tailor your content to their interests.

Trending topics are effective for capturing the attention of a broader audience. Writing a blog post about a popular trending topic can give your website/blog a huge traffic boost. Every tweet, Facebook status update, comment, and blog entry can cover a whole range of topics. And if there’s a groundswell of interest in a subject online, you can easily monitor it with your media monitoring platform.

Conversely, you may be interested in a topic that you think is worth talking about, but there may not be much information online right now. Media intelligence can help you research the level of interest for that topic over time and help to decide whether you should create any content. It could turn into a trending topic if you create content that resonates with the audience you’re looking to reach.

Use Media Intelligence Outside of PR and Social

Monitoring trends isn’t only for content creation. Trending topics can help influence other marketing efforts and business decisions too. Back to my previous example about ‘unemployment insurance’ – you may decide to implement a sales and marketing campaign to connect with an audience that is interested in unemployment insurance.

Or, if you’re about to launch a new product – you could search for keywords that relate to your industry to better understand your market. You may find that certain consumers oppose certain ingredients, such as palm oil. Knowing this info can help you determine the ingredients you use in your new product.

To monitor what topics are trending (and also not trending) online can make a significant impact on our business and marketing strategy. The valuable and timely insights gained can really help us make better marketing and business decisions.

This article originally appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald, it is printed here with permission.