I recently had the privilege of interviewing sports PR vet Brian Berger about how the industry and tools have evolved and the increasing modern demand to quantify and measure the success of all efforts. (listen to the podcast) One of the insights that came out in my chat with Brian that stuck with me was the way he articulated the ROI, so to speak, of effective public relations in sports.
Essentially, the ultimate intent of sports PR is to spread a message and spread a message that leaves all those it reaches with a positive view of the team or athlete. Positive perception, good vibe, strong Q-rating – it’s hard to convey these relatively intangible, but valuable elements of sports PR and social and digital/mobile media. Here are just three:
Capturing positive feedback and social proof. Visuals and pictures tell more than words. And every industry values authentic testimonials. Social proof, positive feedback and conversation is currency. So capture a tweet, a comment, an email, or a column or news report. When you can show how amplified that content becomes, there reveals a powerful value that perhaps money could buy, with endless resources, but that good sports PR delivers. It’s great to say how many retweets or likes something gets, and can even tickle the suits in the C-suite, but actually showing, preserving, and truly valuing that feedback and conversation is showing some money. Of course, we all love quantifiable metrics. Data. Which leads to the next point…
Fan Affinity Metrics. This isn’t about the number of hash tag or Twitter mentions. And it’s certainly not about some mystical sentiment analysis. There is data that can help tell a more cohesive story of positive fan engagement from PR. Social media, mobile app, and website analytics can reveal the uptick of the metrics behind fan affinity and organizational growth. Thousands of tweets related to one’s team or brand can be very good, very bad, or often somewhere in between. It’s often difficult to assess, beyond gut instinct. The metrics to track, in this case, may include: session duration/time spent, content fully consumed, new users, repeat users, pages per visit, and quality organic traffic. It can be helpful to track the peaks and valleys of such metrics, noting the story or content or event that caused the noticeable change. That’s how you visualize and tell a quantifiable story.
Related Marketing and Engagement. Don’t light up a cigar, put your feet up, and bask in your metrics – take action and capitalize on the positive buzz. When there is increased, quality attention around the team, athlete, or brand, give the engaged users something with which to engage. It may be a simple related contest or offer, a live event, a chance to join a cause or community, a sponsor activation that enhances engagement, or any number of ideas that can come to fruition when all departments are on the same page. The key is enabling such thought and activities by inviting all of the minds and organization’s media into the same room and operating as a connected club. Every department can and should win when the consumers are at peak engagement and attention levels.
At a time when there is a rising demand, and ability, to show and measure the bottom line effects of any activity, the number of fan touch points and engagement channels renders this an increasingly difficult task. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t merit trying, tracking what is possible, and understanding what indeed does move the important oh-so-important ‘needle.’ The front porch of sports PR, social, mobile, and digital media can blaze the trail, and it’s time to show the value of the paths cleared along the way.