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.