Earlier this year, I was a guest on the #DigitalPR Twitter chat in a conversation focused on the use of Big Data by public relations professionals for content success. The first question chat host Sally Falkow asked was whether or not the participants believe Big Data is the future of PR. Being a PR Engineer, […]
We know, we know…sequels so rarely live up to the hype of originals, but I can assure you this part duex is guaranteed to deliver as much punch and pizzazz as what came before. A few weeks ago my colleague and engineering partner-in-crime, Frank Jing, knocked it out of the park with his succinct and […]
I’m not sure when it began, but it seems that “Big Data” is becoming THE catch phrase in every business meeting. The emphasis of each Big Data conversation may be different: it may be making sure no data is lost, or the privacy and security concerns of using the cloud, or the automation of analytical […]
Does anyone else feel like everywhere they turn there is some reference to Big Data? While that statement may be steeped in a bit of hyperbole, there is some truth to it. Big Data really is impacting every industry and what’s better, it’s rocking the PR world in a ridiculously awesome way. PR pros have […]
As a professional communicator and nearly obsessive people observer, one thing I often find myself doing at events is listening in on conversations between individuals and groups of people. Some may call this eavesdropping; I like to think of it as homework.
While it may seem totally creepy, the rationale is simple: Through these types of observations, I gain knowledge and insights about the evolution of language, culture, business, and inadvertently modern-day communication.
More specifically, I hear the jargon that emerges as we attempt to codify language within certain industries.
Bryan E. Jones, VP of marketing North America and the Dell, makes the point that jargon is typically used for two reasons: “It’s either a shorthanded way to speak to colleagues or others in your industry (which is fine); or it’s a shield that says, ‘What I do is hard and complex and I want you to stay on your side of the line.'”
Anthony Ray, aka Sir Mix-A-Lot, puts it a little more bluntly: “People think it makes them sound smarter.” He adds: “It’s not just the tech industry that’s guilty of this. It happens in every industry under the sun.”
As a longtime entrepreneur (Appboy) and investor (T5 Capital), Mark Ghermezian has seen his fair share of jargon: “I understand why it exists, and there are definitely some environments where pulling out your ‘industry speak’ will work; but it’s all about context and knowing your audience.”
In terms of the technology and business landscape, and in order to decode and rethink some of the most overused and overrated terms, I asked Jones, Ray, and Ghermezian to give me their take.
Here are their thoughts on some of the most pervasive catch phrases, what they really mean, and suggestions on what we should we be saying instead.
1. “Social selling.”
This something I’ve been hearing rumblings of for the past year. “Social selling as opposed to unsocial selling is pretty ridiculous if you think about it,” says Jones. “As if we would ever say to a customer: ‘Hi, I don’t want to get to know you or your business, but I would like you to buy things from me. Is that OK?'”
Let’s stick to simply “selling” coupled with a genuine interest in our respective buyers, shall we?
2. “Disruption” and “paradigm.”
These two are like the startup world’s Bobbsey Twins: completely different, each with their own adventures, but often finding themselves together at last. Notes Ray candidly: “It goes a little something like this: Company X will completely disrupt the industry and totally shift the current paradigm.”
What to say instead?
“How about just telling us how you’re ‘different,’ and what real-world problem you are trying to solve,” says Ray. “Using jargon is often a cover up for fluff and truly smart folks will see straight through it.”
3. “Data-driven insights.”
“In my opinion, there’s no reason to track data that’s not going to benefit the customer relationship,” remarks Jones. “We have a tendency to want to track every detail, but it’s our responsibility to take a step back and question the utility of it all.”
In other words, we could think of this as “information that will enable us to make better decisions around the customer.” While “data-driven insights” sounds super smart, it doesn’t mean anything short of context and application.
Last week, I had the pleasure of spending 14 hours talking, thinking, and theorizing about the future of Big Data at Dell’s 1-5-10 Big Data event at San Francisco’s Clift Hotel. The conversations included thoughts and insights from some of the world’s biggest Big Data experts.
Did I mention Big Data?
Needless to say, I went to bed with Big Data on my mind.
The next morning, after a smooch from my pooch and grabbing a coffee to go, I jumped into an Uber with one Arman, two bags, and three changes of clothes…and headed back to my home in Marin.
Here’s what happened during that drive:
As Arman and I rode through the city toward the Golden Gate Bridge I decided to put my phone away and think about how my morning was being affected by Big Data.
Let’s be honest. In an era when even the most challenged of industries are employing data-driven decision making, there’s no reason PR shouldn’t be able to catch up. As media mongers, we’ve long relied on vanity metrics to prove our work’s worth. From AVE (advertising value equivalency) to print circulation, these dirty-data metrics are often muddied with inaccuracies, and they fail to strategically inform our work.
Dirty Data is:
Think about the falsities of “print circulation” as a metric. Does the number of newspapers sitting in an untouched stack by the doorway of a coffee shop really equate to the type of exposure you’re looking for? Does that number help you decide what story to pitch next? Or, are you simply assuming the success of past campaigns? If the latter, you’re definitely playing with the little devil we call dirty data.
Reporting the success of a news story you’ve pitched using dirty-data metrics (aka “vanity metrics”) may show why you deserve your job, but it doesn’t tell you how to do your job better.
Before you blast off into a dark mood because you’ve just realized you’ve been working with faulty numbers this whole time, know that you’re not alone. It’s a problem within the industry and there’s already a solution out there — it just hasn’t been embraced widely yet. Why not be one of the first? I’m talking about improving your data literacy and applying clean data to your PR strategy.
Clean Data is:
- Devoid of inaccuracies
- Interpreted in a uniform way
- The basis of a strategy that works
Here, I examine three companies — that have nothing to do with PR — to demonstrate how data-driven decision making help achieve better business performance. Think of it as “data inspiration.”
How could PR can benefit from similar business tactics?
Data Beast #1: Square
Did you ever hear the story about the little, Seattle-based ice cream shop that got mobile and tablet payment provider Square to revert to an earlier version of software? The NPR article “Technology May Turn You Into A Bigger Tipper” outlines the stellar story of community-driven data and service.
In the merchant-preferred version of the Square software, customers were presented with a screen that suggested optional tip amounts before they could get to the signature page to complete their transactions. In the new software version, the tipping option appeared on the same page as the signature box. There wasn’t as much of an incentive to give a few bucks for a job well done, and tipping declined (in a huge way) instantly. Square’s solution? Revert to the preferred software version immediately and avoid the wrath of unhappy merchants (and potentially “bad PR”).
What the PR Industry can learn from Square:
- Community feedback is invaluable data.
- The ability to pivot on a dime should be a best practice for any business.
In Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Silicon Hills, and Silicon [insert any global tech region I may not be familiar with], big data is all the big rage.
As a founding team member for a company now selling a big data product (AirPR Analyst), I’ve been forced to come to terms with my lack of immediate enthusiasm for this term that seems as elusive as it does overhyped.
For me, it was on par with hookup dating apps.
What does the “BIG” mean exactly?
Does it mean “a lot”? As in: “Wow, you have A LOT of data.”
Does it mean that when I envision this data I should be thinking about really really, physically large numbers? Like the biggest number three I could possibly imagine.
Or does it mean important? As in: “Whoa…your data is a really big deal. Huge.”
Regardless of its roots (I should have just Wikipedia’d it), I know one thing for a fact: it’s very unsexy.
Perhaps the only thing unsexier than saying “big data” is when you slap the term “PR” in front of it. I mean, talk about a buzz kill. That’s the tricky thing about building technology in an industry that hasn’t seen innovation in over a decade. Don’t get me wrong – we are doing a series of things to sexify PR – but it’s going to take some time.
Standby though. Our engineering team is really getting into it.
During these “sexifying of PR” brainstorms, it dawned on me that we definitely aren’t at the bottom of the barrel. In fact, I found at least 138 things most people would find much unsexier than PR big data.
To prove my point, I will now divulge the Top 22 things (out of 138) that are unsexier than PR big data:
#1 – Aluminum extrusions
#2 – CEOs with big egos
#3 – Weird mustaches on guys unless it’s “Movember”
#4 – Man-cleavage
#5 – Non-Virgin America flights
#6 – Accidentally texing a boy: “I’m going to the gyn” instead of “gym”
# 7 – People who think they’re cool because they know other people who they think are cool
# 8 – Bad kissers
# 9 – Not opening doors for girls
#10 – Taking credit for things other people obviously did Continue reading…
Anyone who knows me, knows I have two pro-crushes:
Not necessarily in that order.
I’d like to point out that I’ve never met “Stevie-J” (that’s my pet name for him) in person, but I did see him speak at a conference once: it was definitely a nerd soul connection, at least on my end. I’ve also tweeted to him a few times, only to be completely ignored – but it’s cool, I know he’s super busy and probably, no definitely, thinking about my tweets even if he’s non-responsive.
Bill, on the other hand, I have the tremendous pleasure of spending time with on a somewhat regular basis – as he has been advising AirPR even before I took my place at the proverbial table. P.S. I happen to know and adore Bill’s wife so this is all totally kosher. My gushing about “The Tancer.”
A lil’ bit about Bill (beware: you may develop a crush too!)…
#1 – DATA GEEK: As the world’s preeminent expert of online behavior, he’s spent the last 10 years analyzing a sample of 10 million Internet users and what they do online every single day. In other words, he lives and breathes “big data.” He is also the general manager of global research at Experian Hitwise.
#2 – PATTERN FREAK: He studies 5-8 million search terms every week to reveal insights into online behavior patterns. These patterns, in turn, are used to help businesses find customers, anticipate trends and improve performance.
#3 – MEDIA CHIC: Last but not least, he’s is the author of New York Times Bestseller Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters — Unexpected Insights for Business and Life. His analysis of the online landscape has been quoted extensively in the press, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today and Business Week.
While data may be Bill’s main jam, what he finds most compelling are the stories derived from what people are searching for: The quantitative front-end to the qualitative back-end, if you will. Continue reading…
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