Gini Dietrich

PR Department: Metrics, Budgets, and Outsourcing

By: Gini Dietrich | December 5, 2012 | 

This past summer, I presented a webinar about Marketing in the Round, the book written by Geoff Livingston and me.

Maddie Grant, the co-founder of SocialFish and host of the webinar, asked me to keep the presentation to about 35 minutes so there was plenty of time for attendees to ask questions.

And questions there were!

There were so many questions, we thought answering some of them would make a good blog post. But then that one blog post turned into three.

So I cherry picked what I thought were the most applicable questions for the Spin Sucks readers and have answered them here for you. Even if you haven’t read the book or seen Geoff or me speak on the topic, I think these still work for you.

How do you prioritize budgeting if you’re starting something completely new–such as digital marketing, SEO, or social media?

You know, I hate to use “it depends” as an answer, but it really does depend. The nice thing with the digital tools – particularly social media – is they are free. Now, don’t get me wrong. The time involved in using those tools is not free, but you have the opportunity to test some things without spending a bunch of time or money.

My best advice is to create a listening program. You can do this with tools such as Google alerts and Social Mention.

What percentage of the budget should be experimental?

Gosh. I don’t know if I’d say there is a percentage of your budget that should be experimental. Rather, I’d make it part of someone’s job. For instance, maybe they spend an hour a day (or half an hour) looking at new tools, reading the reviews and blog posts, and determining whether or not it’s something you should invest time in learning more about.

It’s pretty easy to tell, within a year of a new product/tool launching, whether or not you should experiment with it. For instance, I’d recommend all organizations use Google+ just for search engine optimization purposes. Google looks very kindly on returning search results for the content that is shared through Google+. But if you’d asked me a year ago, when the tool came out, I would have guessed it’d have been more of a social network.

So I’d say allot some time each day to learning more about what’s out there, but let things settle before you decide whether or not you should integrate something new into your overall program.

What skills do you need to have on the team vs. skills you can outsource?

I believe pretty strongly that your audiences, customers, stakeholders, and employees want to have a conversation with you online, not some PR or marketing professional who doesn’t work inside your organization. That said, there are many things an outsourced professional or agency can do to free up your time to allow your internal team to have the conversations. Things such as strategy development, creation of an editorial calendar, scheduling of updates, monitoring the conversations, finding news and links of interest, and coaching. But your internal team should have the authority to not only have online conversations, but be able to make decisions that will create a happy customer.

What these tools do is allow you to monitor what’s being said about the industry, your competition, and even you online. Once you figure out where people are spending their time online, focus your energies there first. Don’t try to be all things to all people or jump on every new tool. Once you figure out whether or not there is an opportunity, then you can figure out how much time and money to invest in doing it right.

What are some common metrics that work across an entire marketing department?

I come from the for-profit world, so the metrics we consider for every client are: Increased revenues, improved margins, and/or a shortened sales cycle. In a non-profit or membership-based organization, you could consider increased funding, larger donations, or more members. These are the types of things that will allow you to measure a return-on-investment that is music to the executive team’s ears.

What say you?

A very modified version of this ran on the SocialFish blog. If you want to read the entire three-part series and all of the Q&A, part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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25 responses to “PR Department: Metrics, Budgets, and Outsourcing”

  1. lauraclick says:

    I think the outsourcing question is important. So many businesses want to push the easy button and outsource their social media efforts to a consultant or agency. Although it can work, I think it’s largely a mistake. It’s always better if the brand owns the relationship. As you mentioned, it’s our job to develop the strategy and provide coaching and guidance on to help them build those relationships the right way.

  2. stevenmcoyle says:

    Thank God, Google+ found a way to be somewhat useful.

    • ginidietrich says:

      @stevenmcoyle I really see its only value as search engine optimization. But it works very, very well for that.

      • jpeters1221 says:

        @ginidietrich  @stevenmcoyle I don’t know. Value vs. Potential. Right now, yes, the value lies in SEO, but I hope it can become more. I personally like Google+, but since just about everyone else I know is glued to Facebook or Twitter, it loses value as a purely social network. I do however like the potential of it as an underlying social layer, especially in mobile. Think of the rumored acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook — that’s a play a more mobile experience…and I think that’s what Google+ COULD be, but they have to get the people there. It COULD become the default way to share if integrated well via Android phones. But, that’s a whole other fragmentation deal. 
        Anyway, I strayed a little there. Yes, Google+ for SEO, but I hope it can become more.

  3. wgmccoll says:

    Remember the old joke line:  “Don’t try this at home…this man is a professional.”  If your clients need a service you aren’t skilled at performing, get someone who is.  You’ll look better to your clients and you won’t be stressing out trying to pull off what you can’t do well.

  4. HowieG says:

    I think budgeting is the trickiest thing. It will vary based on cash flow. My experience says businesses with positive cash flow tend to be ones that are willing to spend money to make money. Others will try doing cheap. So I think as an advisor with experience you can present the options vs what a realistic expected payback will be based on the goals. There should be someone in the org qualified to have the right conversations.
    As for outsourcing vs insourcing that is also tricky. I would think based on hours and what the in house expertise is. If you need only 10 hrs a week of work probably doesn’t pay to hire a staff member.

  5. […] the 1990s, one of the metrics we used at our newspaper to measure reader engagement was letters to the […]

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