USC Research identifies PR best practices…

Jerry Swerling from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication was in touch regarding the release of their fifth study of generally accepted practices (GAP) in Public Relations.

This is (to me) a heavyweight look at the profession including responses from over five hundred practitioners.

There’s some interesting findings including:

  • Low funding for measuring PR effectiveness (with an overage of 6% of budgets going on measurement)
  • The higher you report in the organisation – the higher your budget
  • Companies now most commonly use multiple PR firms


The study also identifies a set of best practices:

  • Maintain a higher than average ratio of PR budget to gross revenue (GAP PR/GR Ratio).
  • Report directly and exclusively to the C-Suite.
  • Optimize the C-Suite’s understanding of PR’s current and potential contributions to the success of the organization as a whole.
  • Establish an effective social responsibility strategy for your organization.
  • Establish an effective digital-media strategy for your organization.
  • Establish an effective issues-management strategy for your organization.
  • Optimize integration and coordination of PR/Communications, both within the PR/Communications function, and with other organizational functions.
  • Encourage highly ethical practices across the organization, beginning with communication.
  • Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a long-term strategic point of view, beginning with communication.
  • Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a proactive mindset, beginning with communication.
  • Optimize the integration of PR and reputational considerations into top-level organizational strategies.
  • Measurably contribute to organizational success.


This is a detailed research report, relevant to anyone in communications.


Download the research

You can download the study in its entirety here (PDF) or you can access the various different sections here.


Related news item:

European PR Research

From Richard Bailey I see that EUPRERA (The – deep breath – European Public Relations Education and Research Organisation – sigh) is undertaking a survey on PR and communications management in Europe.

Why not complete this ten minute survey!

Old and New media links


  • Trevor "Video" Cook has unearthed some smeedia videos…
    • Josh Bernoff of Forrester on "How to be a social media provocateur"
  • BL Ochman on "What social media means to her"
  • Twitter…

In response to the recent furore around service downtime, Twitter have responded with a new "Status" blog where you can find the latest information on whether the services is up and what’s the progress dealing with any issues.


Luckily the blog is relying on Tumblr and not Twitter :-)

Shocker: RSS the source of back problems!

I have a sore back.

After some consideration of the matter, I believe that the only possible cause of the soreness is my trusty RSS Reader FeedDemon.

Now, it’s not FeedDemon’s fault, but the number of times, in any given review of RSS feeds, I have to bend over and pick names off the floor is escalating beyond belief.

I am considering various antidotes to the queasy, nausea I feel reading these blog posts, some medicinal and some physical.

I hope that when I’m rich and famous I don’t start boring people to death with intros like:

"I had breakfast with the man from the moon about sixteen weeks ago…"


By all means bore us to death with your post – god knows I do it all the time – but stop the name dropping and get to the point.



Just to clarify this post isn’t about blogging about people you meet. No.  This concerns framing a post as though the VIP (whatever) in question is central to the post when in fact it’s name dropping. These writers are typically too "cool" to write: "Wow I met X, I’ve always admired her and it’s true they look taller on TV". The name dropper is far too sophisticated for that.  The drop actually adds nothing to the post.  It’s for effect, whatever. That’s what this post is about.

Ireland: Online media shorts…

The Irish Times….

One of the Irish Times’ triumvirate of journalist bloggers, Shane Hegarty has announced he’s putting his “Present Tense” blog on ice for a while. (Interesting (to me anyway) there are over 70 comments on the post so far..). Then there were (as far as I know) two active official Irish Times blogs:

  1. Conor Pope’s PriceWatch blog
  2. Jim Carroll’s On the Record blog

[Other Irish Times related blogs: John Collins, Karlin Lillington, John Butler]


Newstalk 106….

In Irish Times (kind of) related news, Karlin Lillington has decided to step down from the Technology slot on Newstalk 106 but will be focusing her energies on a new podcast series. [I assume Mr. Joe Drumgoole is remaining in situ.]


Sunday Business Post

I didn’t know Nadine O’Regan from the Sunday Business Post had a blog.

[Other related blogs: Adrian Weckler]


Filed under “Other Irish media-related blogs I know”:


So what other ones am I missing?

In the spirit of Irish blog-operation… do please feel free to add any more local media blogs :-)


Cian GInty passed along a useful list he pulled together here.

PR Round-up…

Devolution of Media

For the uninitiated, Jim Horton is the grandfather (in a nice and not age related way!) of PR blogs, he was the first practitioner publishing content online in a meaningful way, even without RSS :-).  He continues to provide reasoned, in-depth coverage of the industry today, and he’s just published an essay: Devolution of Traditional Media and what it means to PR which takes a look at how changes in the media landscape and the rise of social media may impact PR. Worth a read.


Twitter PR

Shel Holtz has a great post, which could have been included in the round-up below, looking at Twitter and how their recent service problems are a great example of why communicators can add value to a business and an entrepreneur.

Unfortunately, most people who make such observations about PR base their views only on what they observe. What they observe is pitching. PR pitches are blatant and, frequently, annoying. (Heck, I work in PR and get frazzled at the staggering number of clueless pitches I receive every day. In a PRWeek article,’s senior editor, Dylan Tweney, articulates what a lot of victims of bad pitching feel: “I don’t have the luxury of blacklisting people, because if they have news, it doesn’t matter whether I like them or not, or whether they’ve been good at pitching in the past. I’ll still need to hear about it.")

What’s not visible to most people, however, is the work that occupies most PR practitioners most of the time, and it isn’t pitching or getting ink. The mere fact that pitches are what you see most of the time doesn’t mean that’s the lion’s share of what goes on in most shops. If Loic were to spend a single day with an account team at any well-known agency, he’d probably amend his post.



Ready for the Digital Savvy?

Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb reports on new research from Scarborough Research on the "digitally savvy" – the most high-tech consumers in the US.


According to Gary Meo, SVP, Print and Digital Media Services at Scarborough Research, this is an important group to monitor because their shopping patterns could "presage behaviors of consumers across the country."

PR & Social Media.. there is a bigger picture kids… redux

OK so since I pressed "Publish" on my last post on this matter, there’s been some additional commentary I thought was worth following up on.


Pull back from the picture

The one-and-only Mr. Scoble weighed in on the matter of "PR Secrets". As with Monsieur Le Meur’s post, Mr. Scoble makes some interesting points, but again these people are talking about PR as if:

a) It’s only concerned with Web 2.0 and the online world – it’s not

b) PR is press relations – it’s not


There’s a couple of points I’d call out:

PR now stands for “Professional Relationships.”

No, Robert, PR stands for PUBLIC Relations, it’s about communicating effectively with ALL individuals, groups and communities relevant to a company, group or individual. While I know there’s a lot of kudos for inventing new words, acronyms and terms (think "Jumping the Shark", Smeedia :-) , etc.) the real definition of PR is fine thanks.

Robert makes a lot of sense, but again, it’s a partial commentary that ignores much of what PR people do day-in, day-out, albeit there’s some good advice around online communications.

The reality is that PR people are going to have to continue washing and dressing and going out into the real world for some time to come.


You don’t need PR at all if you have a great product.


Oh my word. Oh my word. <sigh>


Some PR advice


I found a video commentary from Neville Hobson via Trevor Cook.


What’s the issue with "targets"?

Todd Defren has a post related to Mr. La Meur’s point on the use of the term Targets.

My response? Target, target, target, target, target, target, target, target.

PR has always been about relationship building. 

The tools and the nature of how that works may be changing and evolving, but relationships have always been central to great PR.  That ain’t new.

So what if people use the word target?  Does it really matter.  What if we replace targets with Blancmanges? Is that better?

"We’re aiming at a number of blancmanges."


Let’s start calling out some of this stuff folks.  Just because it’s "right-on" doesn’t mean it’s true or meaningful.

Just my two cents.

PR & Social Media is not black & white

You know often the best bit of advice we can get is to step back and look at the bigger picture rather than the small blurry dot we sometimes get so tightly focused on.

This piece of advice is often very relevant for the “digerati”.

How many times do these folks focus on destruction? “X is dead/dying”.

Traditional media and PR are two common targets, but I think the digerati often reduce the value of their insight with their binary approach to the online world.

Often the truth isn’t black or white, it’s grey.

My latest example is Loic Lemeur‘s post: “PR secrets? Bullshit

Loic takes an axe to Brian Solis‘ TechCrunch article: “PR secrets for start-ups

Now these kind of posts (Loic’s not Brian’s) typically wind me up.

I feel the blood pressure rising as I scroll.

But in this instance, I have drawn breath.

You see Loic makes some good points with regard to building awareness for your product online such as:

Build strong links with your community, learn from them everyday, enhance your product. If you get coverage from the smallest blogger go and comment to thank him. Do not be obsessed by numbers and results, it is long term relationships that matter.


The most important asset that a startup CEO has or should build is his community. It has nothing to do with marketing. I took me 8 years since I started blogging in 2003 to have a community and it is no marketing. It is about sharing every day thoughts, tips, advise, learnings with the community.

But Loic also makes the same old self-styled digerati mistakes.

No, I’m not talking about the shameless name dropping…

Everybody tries to pitch Scoble and Arrington. They are tired of the same formatted boring pitches that come to them exactly the same. They are my friends and if I had tried to pitch them like hell they would have never have.

Though I must admit part of me gags when I see it.

No it’s the fact that he’s viewing the world through a very narrow lens. His own.

My advice to CEOs is to read his post, he raises some interesting points.  Then step away from your monitor and remember this is only one part of the world you have to deal with.

If you have time to build great relationships and communities, then by all means do.  Do you have the passion, energy and knowledge to be the face of your company? Then do.

PR is about more than getting mentions on blogs or links on Twitter. Contrary to what you may read online, it’s bloody hard work. It takes time, it takes commitment.

Not everyone is Loic Lemeur and not everyone operates a Web 2.0 start-up (even if it sometimes feels like they do!).

My advice for PR people is to read Loic’s post.  There’s great commentary on the growing need for companies to get involved with the community, to converse with customers and partners.  And there’s also a need for professional communicators to ensure that the company is heard.

Your challenge is to ensure you understand the online world, while bringing real-world perspective and understanding to the table (regardless of what Loic says).

As for the tirade against the word “targets”.  For the love of jebus have you nothing more important to be getting upset about?

Get over yourself.

Three PR/Smeedia Shorts…

1) Kami Huyse has posted an analysis of a joint Brodeur-Marketwire survey  on reporters’ view of social media. 


2) Brian Solis has written his second PR feature in as many weeks for TechCrunch this time focusing on "PR secrets for start-ups".

Public Relations is experiencing a long overdue renaissance and its forcing PR stereotypes out from behind the curtain where they operated comfortably for far too many decades. It didn’t begin this transformation because of Web 2.0 or the latest Social Media wave, but instead in the 90’s when the Web gained mass adoption. Yes, it’s taken that long and it will continue to evolve over the next decade as communications professionals struggle with putting the public back in public relations.

3) Steve Rubel points to a post by Erick Dafforn on how Tumblr (an online mini-blogging service I wasn’t aware of) responded via social media such as FriendFeed and Del.icio,us to a customer issue/concern.  Interesting.

Ireland: Eamon Dunphy interviews former government press secretary

You may have already heard this, but I missed it.  Last week Eamon Dunphy interviewed former government press secretary Mandy Johnston.

The interview includes her thoughts on her times with Charlie McCreevy and of course with Bertie Ahern.


" role wasn’t to make to me popular, I was there to make a politician popular or to help explain a politician’s policy that’s all I was there for, I had no interest in endearing myself to journalists and I’m not afraid of the media, and so I told the truth did what I had to do for my political masters and I couldn’t make any apologies for it, everbody can’t be popular, sometimes yes you have to be the tough person."


You can download the podcast of the show (and Dunphy’s other shows) here.