Immeasurable me: the value of trust

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Did the Sphinx know how to measure PR? No sir.

In August, there was an unprecedented discovery at an archaeological dig in Northeast Africa: a question carved in stone and eroded by three thousand years of dust.  A team of researchers from across the globe peered together at the message, translated it from ancient tongues, and released it to the PRSA:  How do you measure public relations?

(Disclaimer:  That story is completely false.  Everyone knows ancient Egyptians used ad equivalency.)

I’ll never grow tired of the question, but I am definitely growing tired of the wide range of answers.  We can use ad equivalency, online impressions, circulations…each shows some value, but none of them alone or in combination tells the whole story.  If you want my thoughts on why we still trend towards ad equivalency here, give me a call and I’ll lay it out.

But I’d rather talk about the sexy stuff that very few people want to hear about, but which everyone celebrates: sure, PR provides an imperative support to sales, but it’s real value lies in the unquantifiable success established by trust.  It’s what draws people.  It’s why we love the song “Dirty Water” in this town, why we drink Coke, and why despite Rupert Murdoch’s best efforts we still read the Wall Street Journal.  It’s trust and purchase.

In this vein, we’re experiencing a true turning point as financial and professional services firms begin to embrace social media as part of their strategic communications and branding platform.  I can trace through five years of blog posts and conversations as business leaders considering social media traveled from “never” to “maybe next year” to “should we be doing this?” to “how?”

Today we’re just about at “when?”  And that changes everything.  One of our mantras is that forward thinking generates discussion, which generates communities, which – in the positive – generates trust and purchase.  Social media is the manifestation of that discussion in a bold and rampant form; while regulations restrict some use for legal and financial experts, it has at long last elevated beyond the marketing department to become part of the corporate lexicon.

Back to measurement.  The acceptance of social media in the last and most conservative frontier may be a  giant leap away from that Egyptian hieroglyph and towards a penultimate embrace of true thought leadership.  How do you measure chatter?  I know, I know…there’s a formula for that.  But I’m not buying.  The value of online, traceable discussion that permeates target audiences and inspires them to action is  immeasurable, and combined with intelligent content it may be the most effective strategy to build a brand with today’s tools.

I still wish there were different words for tweet and blog.  But can you tell I’ve found a rudder since the days of Twitter Drift?

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One Response to “Immeasurable me: the value of trust”

  1. So you work in PR…what exactly does that mean? « EZG Blog Says:

    […] or advertising team, public relations is a more complex, long-term business strategy that’s difficult to assess in terms of immediate ROI. Public relations is about building a reputation, maintaining it and then managing any missteps […]

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