Measuring Marketing Results: A Case Study in the Science and Art

Posted in Advice and Counsel on April 25th, 2012 by M.Perini

by Michael B. Perini, ABC
perini & associates


Successful marketing is both science and art.

I know this after 30+ years in the public relations industry.  The art comes from instinct that is developed from successful past performance in developing relationships.  Strong relationships drive business success.  The science comes from the use of  measurement; the tracking and reporting of results to clients.  It’s much easier today to provide measurement to clients.  We can thank the new tools available to professional PR/marketing consultants, like myself, as the result of both technology and the consumers’ use of the internet.

Here’s a recent case in point.  A client requested, in the restaurant industry, that we use eMail marketing to build a customer base.  We developed an eMail marketing newsletter and promoted it via customer feedback cards as well as through the client’s Facebook page and website.

We started with zero subscribers.   After only 4 months that number of subscribers was at 400 with less than 0.1 percent unsubscribing.  Based on feedback from customers who came to the restaurant we know that the eMail newsletter was read.  Great results by any measure.  That’s the science.

The art is in the frequency and the information provided to those subscribers.  Many businesses, in my view, over produce electronic communications with customers.  They tend to send out too many blasts.  And, they often are too wordy with little to no value added to the reader.

A second case.  A business wanted to have a company Facebook page.   In their view, Facebook would help create awareness about their business.  We agreed that Facebook might achieve that result but only with due diligence and properly using Facebook as it was intended to be used.

Company Facebook pages are NOT for all companies.  Let’s be clear.  Building a Facebook page is one thing.  Keeping the conversation going is another and more difficult task that is often forgotten after the initial photos and videos are uploaded.   Again, the science was in measurement.  Here are the numbers.  Within less than a month the company had nearly 100 fans.  A significant growth cycle for such a small business in a rural mountain community.

The art was how we got that amount of fans quickly.  Our secret:

1. Quality of the posts.

2. Engagement in conversations.

3. The amount of information provided to fans in a timely manner that the fans found useful to them.

Here is one last example about the science and art of marketing.  A client wanted honest and open feedback on their business.  Now, this sounds fine, but will they (the owners) act on what they hear especially when it might be negative?

In today’s world it seems that everyone wants a freebie or at least a discount.  Am I right?  In the end everyone believes that their time is valuable.  I can appreciate that.  Most people  believe that they should be compensated for advice.  Again, being a consultant I can definitely understand.

So, taking advantage of this current consumer trend, when it comes to buying behavior, we designed a very simple feedback card that went to the heart of the key elements in the business.  We also added an incentive.  A 10% coupon for return business; a way of thanking people for their time and providing constructive feedback.  The science was in the easy design that produced a large number of cards being returned.  The data collected on those key elements was easily tabulated and shared with owners to make changes. More than 30% of those who purchased from the business filled out the card.  Industry standards are more in the 4-6% range.  Again, great validity to the respect for the business and the willingness to provide open feedback.

Now, the art comes in understanding the comments and having trust to make the changes.  The business owner personally reviewed the requests and informed workers.  Where and when possible changes were made quickly and trends indicated that complaints from the past were not being repeated.  Some comments required a financial commitment by the owner to fix, i.e. “business is always too cold.”  Understandably that will take time to repair facilities but the owner is aware and has it on a near-term “To do” list as resources warrant.

Yes, you can measure results from public relations practices.  However, it has to be integrated into the overall business strategy — upfront — and acted upon in a timely manner to be of value.

Seek a professional public relations consultant when wanting to promote your business as they can guide and measure results for you.



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ePerini-Readview: How to Measure Internal Communication

Posted in Advice and Counsel, ePerini READVIEW on October 6th, 2011 by M.Perini

Worth reading or viewing

Occasionally, I will recommend a  news article, book, blog post, research or a short video clip to view relating to public relations. This “eperini Readview” references a IABC, CW Bulletin about how to conduct an internal communication, or employee survey–mbp

by Peter Hutton

Which channels or sources of information do your employees trust, and which do they treat with skepticism? How many employees read your staff newspaper, use the company intranet and attend team briefings? What do they get from these communications, and how would they improve them? How many staff are aware of your company’s vision, values and objectives? Do they buy into them, see them as realistic, and believe management lives by them?

Does your staff feel that they are listened to and that their views are valued? Is your internal communication strategy working, and how can it be improved? How engaged are your staff with the business?

It would be difficult to answer any of these questions with a high degree of confidence without undertaking an employee survey. A survey can provide powerful evidence to support your communication initiatives with senior management and give you added confidence that your efforts are paying off.

To get the most out of an internal communication survey, you need to be sure to 1) ask the right people, 2) ask the right questions and 3) interpret the findings correctly.

Asking the right people 
Who is your target audience? Is it all employees or a particular group—e.g., those in a particular department or location? Having defined your target audience, it is important to get as many people to participate as possible; a low response rate means your sample is likely to be skewed to a particular type of employee, and your survey results will not fairly reflect the views of all staff. Many elements can affect the response rate, including the amount and tone of communication running up to the survey, the involvement of line management and survey champions in encouraging responses, the use of incentives, and the wording of the questionnaire.

Asking the right questions
A well-designed questionnaire will make staff feel their views matter and provide you with information that you can use confidently in making decisions. A poorly designed questionnaire will leave staff wondering why they should bother taking part and provide little, if any, use to management.

Questionnaire design requires specific skills. The kinds of questions you ask in surveys are quite different from the kinds of questions you ask in everyday conversation. Survey questions need to be precise, unambiguous, efficient in the way they capture information and, in most cases, should employ answer categories that can be used to quantify responses. Thus, most survey questions include predefined answer categories in the form of graduated scales (e.g., very satisfied, fairly satisfied, etc.) or lists from which respondents can select their answers. These are often complemented by a few open-ended questions that invite staff to answer in their own words.

Choosing the right question format is important and will vary according to the kind of information you require. Attitudes and opinions are usually measured using balanced scales. The most commonly used is the agree/disagree scale: strongly agree, tend to agree, neither agree nor disagree, tend to disagree, strongly disagree. The advantage of this type of question is that you can ask about almost any topic simply by drafting statements reflecting what a member of staff might say (i.e., ”How strongly do you agree or disagree that…?”) However, be careful not to overuse this type of question in your survey. Just presenting a number of agree/disagree statements will give you a lot of measures but not necessarily the right ones. Such statements often measure symptoms rather than underlying causes, yet it is the underlying issues you often need to understand.

In any case, this type of question is often not the best way of measuring attitudes or opinions about company communications. If you want to know how well your managers are seen to be displaying certain desired behaviors (e.g., involving their staff in key decisions, giving them feedback on their performance, etc.), it is better to use a rating scale such as “very good” to “very poor.” If you want to know how useful staff find different forms of communication like team meetings or the intranet in helping them to do their job more effectively, then a usefulness scale (e.g., “very useful” to “not at all useful”) would be more relevant.

To measure your employees’ knowledge or understanding of company information, you’ll need a different kind of question. You might simply ask staff if they have ever heard of or are aware of a number of items (e.g., the company’s code of conduct or corporate values), or you might employ a more subtle scale that distinguishes between those who know them well enough to recite them down to those who have never heard of them.

Ultimately, communication is designed to influence how people behave, and most internal communication questionnaires can benefit from including behavioral questions. Again, scales can be devised to measure how often staff attend team meetings, access the intranet, have appraisals or read the staff newsletter. These can be followed up by questions designed to understand better what benefits employees feel they derive from these vehicles or why they rarely, if ever, use them. It is important to know, for example, whether they do not access the intranet because they have no means of doing so, they have never been shown how to, or because they do not believe there is anything of value on it.

Prompt lists can be useful here, such as listing possible reasons why staff may not use the intranet and asking them to select the ones that apply in their case. The nature of list questions is that staff can express relevance or priorities. For example, you might list different channels of communication and ask which staff prefer to use for different kinds of information. Alternatively, you might list different online and off-line channels for delivering the staff newspaper and ask which they most and least prefer.

Interpreting the findings
What you read into the findings of your survey depends a great deal on having asked the right people the right questions in the first place. Unless your objectives are very simple, it is usually advisable to draw on expert advice. Often, the obvious way to ask a question is not the way that collects the most useful information. One question might take 20 seconds to answer but could produce either one or a dozen items of useful information depending on how it is constructed. It may be clear and obvious what an answer means or it may raise so many questions about its meaning as to be useless for any practical management purpose.

Peter Hutton is founder and managing director of BrandEnergy Research Ltd., based in the U.K., and author of the book What Are Your Staff Trying to Tell You?

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How to do Public Relations

Posted in Advice and Counsel, Research on June 30th, 2011 by M.Perini

Michael B. Perini, ABC
perini & associates

Deciding how to do public relations can be a difficult task.  The world of PR has changed dramatically in the past several years due to the instant nature of communication brought on my mobile technology, the need to build stronger relationships to drive business and any “call to action”  and the global aspects of the right messaging, i.e., every story is now global.

Look, we know it’s  a tough time, but now more than ever there is a need to manage conversations.  In spite of the recent difficult economic times organizations, according to a recent report from Forrester Research, are now increasing their PR and marketing budgets — up 6.7 percent over last year.

The recession coupled with falling readership of traditional media, the rise of online resources and the emergence of digital networks have lead to dramatic changes in the PR industry.  More than ever it is time to have a professional practitioner conduct an “exam” or better worded an ASSESSMENT.

The Communication Assessment Tool (CAT)© developed by Perini & Associates is a useful process to analyze the communications environment within an organization.  The tool can assist with a special event activity or even issue advocacy.  The tool works for start-ups, non-profits and businesses of all sizes.

The purpose of the tool is to accurately provide a business owner, CEO or organizational leader with a roadmap to integrate public relations strategies, tactics and procedure to  build brand awareness and credibility.  Connecting with target audiences through various tools/outlets is an organic method of communication. Doing so enhances brand loyalty and influence to create a demand for your product/service/support or event attendance.  However, you need help in establishing a solid baseline.  In other words, finding out the health of the “patient” before a road to recovery is chartered.  I often tell folks I am trying to find out if you need “two aspirins or open-heart surgery! ”

It is important when going through the assessment to be honest in responding to the five areas listed:

  • Communication Environment
  • Reputation Management
  • Business Development
  • Public Affairs
  • Access Services

The CAT tells you the “why” and makes recommendations that are directly in line with your broader organizational objectives.  Below is a list of important areas or “Practices” that are analyzed.  All must connect or converge to be effective in driving success and jumpstarting PR.

  1. Strategic Communications Services
  2. Reputation/Relationship Management
  3. Access Services
  4. Business Development
  5. Branding/Sponsorship
  6. Government Affairs
  7. Public Affairs
  8. Minority/Multicultural Relations
  9. Message Development
  10. Direct Marketing
  11. Event and Seminars
  12. Social Media
  13. Issue/Crisis Communications
  14. Media Relations
  15. Executive Media Training
  16. Writing Services
  17. Community Relations/Sponsors
  18. Speeches and Presentations
  19. Employee Relations
  20. Internet-based strategies
  21. Website Design/Search/Assessment
  22. Video Production
  23. Graphic Design/Photo Services
  24. Legal Support

By taking full advantage of every available channel, working with the client and understanding the target audience a organization can achieve outcomes that are transformative.

The results of the assessment are analyzed, a report is prepared and recommendations with a realistic timeline are included.

So, you want to know how to do public relations?  Start with an assessment.  Doing so will increase your success. We can conduct the assessment in person, phone or internet connection.




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PR assessment for the rest of us: CAT

Posted in Advice and Counsel, PR Firm, Public Relations News, Research on August 26th, 2010 by M.Perini

Perini & Associates, a public relations firm based in Colorado, has developed  a  tool to assist managers of organizations, events and issues with determining public relations requirements.

The new assessment tool provides the company executive, event coordinator, or issues advocate with a roadmap designed to integrate public relations practices — top to bottom — for success.

"Cat" -- PR assessment for the rest of us

There are three tools available:

  • Organization-CAT
  • Issue-CAT
  • Event- CAT

Each Communication Assessment Tool (CAT) is useful in analyzing the communications environment within an organization, event or issue.  The tool works for start-ups, non-profits and businesses of all sizes.  CAT is also very useful for the volunteer leader attempting to set up an event or activity.

“It really is the tool for the rest of us,” said Michael Perini, owner of Perini & Associates.

“It ‘s not ‘one stop shopping’ for successful public relations anymore and this tool combines strategies, capabilities and tactics,” said Perini.

Perini & Associates experience is what makes this assessment tool so valuable.   The experience of more than 30 years in the PR field by  Perini an then adding the company’s experienced associate team to the assessment process is the difference.

Most often, analyzing the benefits of PR integration has been subjective and haphazard at best. From a client’s perspective, they don’t often go through a rigid analysis.  Why?  “They think they understand PR because they have a website or have written a press release,” Perini said.  “The results of this tool allows focus and synergy,” he said.

Also, there has been limited available resources that understand and have been able to articulate the need for such a useful service.  “We view PR as a strategic management function, responsible for listening to the customer or supporter and the employees or volunteers and helping management make decisions based on what all these ‘audiences’ think,” Perini said.

Once a client agrees to the assessment, Perini & Associates selects the proper tool, i.e., O-CAT, I-CAT OR E-CAT.   “First, we meet with the senior person for the organization, event or issue,”  Perini said.  “Then we use our tool to establish the current communications environment from top to bottom.  A series of questions forms the basis of each assessment tool and a confidential report is provided with recommended steps to better integrate PR,” he said.

Public relations firms serve as a combination of communications counselor, navigator, and interpreter. “By taking advantage of every available channel, working with the client and understanding the target audience outcomes can be transformative,” Perini said.

Below is a list of important areas reviewed using the CAT:

Strategic Communications Services

Reputation/Relationship Management

Access Services

Business Development/Branding/Sponsorship

Government Affairs

Public Affairs

Minority/Multicultural Relations

Message Development

Direct Marketing

Event and Seminars

Issue/Crisis Communications

Media Relations

Executive Media Training

Writing Services

Community Relations

Speeches and Presentations

Employee Relations

Internet-based strategies

Website Design/Search/Assessment

Video Production

Legal Support

“The impact of such a tool will make a business more profitable, and event better attended and an issue better understood,” Perini said.

Perini & Associates determines up front the cost of the analysis, which is based on the scope,  size of the organization, event or issue and time allowed for the analysis.

To learn more about Perini & Associates and how we can help your company, event or issue please visit or email us at:

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