Vocus Webinar – PR Planning for 2009

I participated in a Vocus Webinar the other day.  They asked me to join Lenny Santiago, Director of Marketing Communications for International Speedway Corporation. We discussed PR planning for 2009 and the importance of a solid plan to reach PR campaign success.  I thought the Webinar went really well, but I noticed that after 20 minutes of me speaking, and then another 20 minutes of Lenny discussing how he goes about PR planning for his company, there were about 100 questions that we did not get to answer.

One question that stood out as it scrolled by on my screen was, “What is the conversation index.”  I had mentioned the conversation index as a part of my measurement slide.  Because of the short duration of my discussion, I could only touch on a brief definition, so I thought it would be good to take an excerpt from my new book, “Putting the Public in Public Relations” that explains the conversation index in detail and its importance. So many PR professionals are not familiar with how to measure conversations online as the old methods of measurement focused on print coverage and converting editorial coverage into what would have been spent if the same space required advertising dollars.

Brian Solis and I discuss the conversation index in Chapter 18 of the book on page 249 and we state:

A conversation index indicates your placement, status, ranking, perception, and participation in the Social Media sphere. By tracking conversations based on keywords, you can measure their frequency, tonality, and locations, and create a measurable baseline with which to compare all future activity.

Almost every online conversation is trackable. You can use conversations to measure the effectiveness of your PR program. Criteria include  frequency of keyword mentions over a comparable time span—for example, x number of mentions this month versus x number last month, or year-to-date equals x number in contrast to last year at x number. You can also track competitive mentions compared to conversations about your company or products.

We then go onto discuss the new trackable elements in a measurement program to determine ROI and success.  Some of the elements include:  Traffic, leads/sales, engagement, relationships, authority and perception.  Are you familiar with how to track the conversation index and the elements that help to determine ROI?  Please feel free to share your best practice approach to social media measurement.