PR Evaluation – IPRA Beijing feedback

Posted on: November 23, 2008

One of the best attended panels at IPRA World Congress at Beijing was on PR evaluation, with the star speakers being Prof Don Stacks of University of Miami and Peter Verrengia of Fleishman Hillard


Measurement of social media was one of the main discussion points. Don Stacks said that data on social media output, such as traffic and click-throughs, was easy to collect but the penetration of messages was much more difficult and mathematically complex. His view was that social network analysis was the way forward with methods, such as Marcovian chain analysis, coming from sociological research.


To understand how messages are being processed and passed along in social media, we need to track bloggers, code the content of their text and work out who is talking to whom. “It’s a highly complex analysis”, he told a packed house.


[Since Beijing, I have seen an example of the use of network analysis tools to track movements of messages between websites and bloggers. I hope to report soon]


Peter Verrengia said that social media is difficult to measure but it is so important to the future of PR and communication that we must develop more sophisticated methods to track it. There is great (and growing) volume of internet traffic to track and the volume of analysis grows geometrically when more than one language is being monitored. Peter says that there are opportunities to monitor some message content by computer but human analysis is needed on tone and context.


Fact: China has 200 million ‘netizens’ in a population of 1.3 billion (and growing)


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Tom Watson

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