Because it’s really hard to do a blog post while you’re presenting, I’ve done this post in advance based on what I think I’m going to say. I’ll plan to update it later based on the discussion, and invite comments or questions to clarify what we’ve presented.
First, I took issue a bit with Shel Israel’s advice in yesterday’s panel to hire young kids to do your social media work, because they just naturally “get it.” I think that’s fine to a point, but it can’t be an excuse for not becoming conversant with social media. This area is growing so quickly and will be so important, that it amounts to “media malpractice” if you are a professional communicator who doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, blogging, Twitter and other technologies that are quickly becoming mainstream means of communication.
For more than 100 years, word of mouth of satisfied patients and their families has been the main way people find out about Mayo Clinic and therefore see it as a place they would want to go with their complex medical problems.
Another key driver of Mayo Clinic’s reputation, since we don’t do national advertising, has been news media stories. That is the main topic of my presentation, since I work in media relations. But in the future, we will see a synergy of word of mouth with media through “prosumer” social media. It all comes down to people telling their stories, either directly face-to-face or potentially globally through news media or social media.
My co-presenter, Angie Jeffrey of VMS, gave some background on the Share of Discussion metric for news media that she has developed, and showed how it has correlated to business outcomes.
Then I showed a few high-level slides from syndicated Share of Discussion studies Angie’s group has done that involved us, and related results from media to public perceptions about Mayo Clinic and some other outcomes.
Finally, I think it’s overly ambitious to try to boil down all media, both mainstream and social, into a single PR metric, as Microsoft described yesterday. Communications is mind-numbingly complex, as Jim Macnamara said yesterday, and today’s prosumers get information from lots of sources. Some we can measure and others we can’t. But just as physicians use tests of blood pressure, LDL, triglycerides and other indicators which correlate with health outcomes (but may not actually be the causes of disease) to decide how to treat patients, so a set of measures like Share of Discussion and appropriate social media indicators can be used as “screening tests” to identify potential problems and opportunities.
To be affordable, especially for non-profits and not-for-profits, these tools need to take advantage of automation to deal with the immense amounts of communication that is happening in the “everyone is a publisher” world.
Thanks to the Institute for Public Relations for putting on this Summit on Measurement and for the opportunity to present and to connect with so many interesting people. This has been a valuable learning experience for me, and I hope our presentation has been helpful for others.
IPR,Institute for Public Relations,PR,Media Measurement,Social Media,Microsoft,Angie Jeffrey,VMS