Measuring the Value of PR Connections
With the advent of social media, the rules of PR have changed - PR pros are now designers, content creators and social media managers in addition to storytellers. But one element to PR success remains the same - a strong network. (Back in the day, it used to be a huge Rolodex on your desk. Now it’s more about your Twitter and Linkedin connections.)
The challenge in our digital world is how much a PR pro really knows their connections. Take, for example, Linkedin Endorsements. They are often given by people who have never worked with the person that they are endorsing, or worse - never even met them. It’s important to take a PR Pros “connections” with a grain of salt - or, to dig deeper into just how strong those connections are. As our industry friend Arik Hanson recently wrote,
“We all know these LinkedIn endorsements are kind of goofy. People who have never worked with us endorse us for skills of all kinds. In many ways, the endorsements mean nothing.”
And that may be true. But connections are still a crucial part of a PR pro’s world. So how can you, as a client or brand looking to work with or hire a PR executive, determine whether or not the candidate’s connections will be valuable to you?
Three simple ways:
- Ask the candidate how well they know their connections. Who is their strongest connection in an area that might benefit you (such as media or analysts)? How have they worked with these folks in the past?
- Take a look through their connections - type in industry influencers and see if they’re connected. Ask about these relationships.
- Measure results. Of course you knew we’d say that, but it’s true. If a PR agency claims that their connections will help get you in to USA Today, CNN and the Wall Street Journal, that’s great. But be sure that you are then measuring the outcome of this promise once you begin working together. If they are able to secure a media briefing, ensure that it is with a reporter who will actually cover you at some point, and not just one of their connections who took the meeting to be polite to their contact (and ultimately wasted everyone’s time).
Remember that often a PR pro will have a connection with an important journalist that might not write about your industry. That’s okay. If they have a good relationship, the reporter can help connect them with another reporter in the same publication who does cover your industry. This is the value of a truly good connection.
Furthermore, a great PR rep can also introduce you to others who may benefit you in a variety of ways beyond traditional “PR” or just the media. They should know investors, analysts, even potential partners. Ask them how they’ve leveraged their network to help clients out in the past. Have they supported business development initiatives or fundraising by making introductions?
The power of a great PR executive is not only that they bring a strong network with them, but a strong ability to quickly open doors and meet others - as well as introduce you - when needed.