Can getting lucky be counted as blogging ROI?

In David Terrar follow-up on the recent “Return on Investment of Blogging “debate, he provides a list of useful links to other viewpoints and shares his own experience of the benefits of blogging. 

However, his example of how getting a mention on a target site had saved him the cost of employing a PR consultancy is flawed evidence of the value of blogging. 

Firstly, a single mention on a target blog is unlikely to be the sole achievement of employing professional PR support for 6 months as he suggests.  Secondly, you cannot evaluate the value of public relations by what you would have paid for a service.   There is illogical reasoning at work here – a price tag is not a value measure.  

Thirdly, in terms of blogging’s ROI, success must depend entirely on what you aim to achieve from this tactic.  If David’s objective was to: “get my name and brand picked up by the mainstream media” (presumably in order to increase his income) then spending time and effort writing a blog on the off-chance of being noticed is simply relying on luck. 

A pro-active PR strategy would have added a focus on including relevant links/tags/SEO/etc, selecting appropriate topics, building a reputation with other bloggers, establishing relationships with key  media and so on, to ensure this blog – and David’s name/brand – became recognised by his target media audience (or even better potential clients to increase his income). 

Blogging by itself is unlikely to be an effective promotional tactic – but within a strategy that encompasses building relationships, managing reputation and communicating a brand, then it can be a pretty useful tool.  Evaluating blogging needs to be part of the overall assessment of the relationships, reputation and outcomes of communications such as increased knowledge and behaviour change.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

7 thoughts on “Can getting lucky be counted as blogging ROI?”

  1. Thanks. He says the internet is already too big to monitor. Will this dilute the possibility for PR practitioners to use online social media to its maximum if they are unable to evaluate its true worth?

  2. I don’t think so – what is important is to know what you want to achieve as a clear objective and then you determine the usefulness of social media as a tool within the many that are available to PR. From the reputation point of view, you cannot afford to ignore the potential of social media, whilst at the same time keeping it in context as not every online moan is going to be crisis critical. I feel it is a useful time for PR to get smarter – perhaps it isn’t about ROI for every tool, but showing the wider contribution of PR to organisations and its abilities to achieve specific, corporate, marketing or other objectives.

  3. Hi Heather,
    Thanks for the mention. To quote Oscar Wilde “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”. It’s good to get a professional PR view on things.

    Firstly, AccountingWEB isn’t a Blog, it’s a magazine website, with a very traditional media style strategy. It does allow comments from registered users, and so has some blog characteristics. Actually they have enormous potential for their target market which they are missing out on, but that’s another story.

    I guess when I inject the kind of comment you’ve picked up on I should take care to add in some caveats and assumptions – sloppy writing I guess, but I hope my readers picked up on the point I was trying to make. Of course I would expect a lot more outcomes than one mention in one of my target publications from spending £2-3,000 with a decent PR firm over 6 months. I would expect a lot of deliverables from the firm in question, and results across a range of our marketing communications activities (as it happens I have a plan in place with my friends at UK firm itpr that will be put in to action as soon as I can afford it). However, I know from many years of experience, pre-blogosphere, that you would need to employ a decent PR firm like them for a period of time to get the kind of mentions that I now occasionally, moving towards regularly get in AccountingWEB. For me (and most CEOs or marketing directors) the budget spend does come in to it, so I was focussing on that one single outcome and contrasting against the raw cost and time of my blogging activity. Over that period, I’m please to say I’ve got an enormous amount of value beyond the press mentions in AccountingWEB or Accountancy Age. I’ve made connections, that I would never have made by traditional means, that have added business partnerships, great advice, and even got me involved in writing a book. The most satisfying thing, which has happened several times, is when I’m talking to a prospect who tells me that they know something about me because they regularly read my blog.

    One other aspect you might be interested in. One of my clients that have taken the advice and got in to blogging is Goodman Jones. The partner in question now, Philip Woodgate, now blog aimed at SMEs. He once said to me that he doesn’t care that much if anybody reads the blog, the act of writing it means that he does a much better job than he did before. He says that he now thinks and talks to his clients like a business advisor, whereas before he was simply an accountant. Getting in to blog technology has been great for them as it helped them win last year’s Accountancy Age award for best use of the Internet by a practice.

    I’ve been adding links to the post that you’ve linked to. Any blog that has done some analysis or commentary on Charlene’s report, rather than merely referencing it has been added – 30 and counting. The ones from Mario Sandar and Debbie Weil have some good points and great links to other good material. I hope your readers follow the trail.

  4. David – thanks for your comments. I take the point about how blogging can deliver real value – and doesn’t necessarily require large budget or specialist expertise. As you indicate, in PR you need to work with decent firms who aren’t always financially accessible to everyone, and may need time to deliver ongoing results.

    Also it is important to note that the “raw cost and time” we spend blogging can be considerable and needs to be assessed against other uses of our most precious resource of time. But, the connections you have made are proof of that value – and importantly they are your contacts, not those of an external PR consultancy.

    What I love most about blogging is the result of such connections – and the doors they open to opportunities we would never otherwise come across. And, I agree that the fact we can be talking to people who get inside our heads and want to connect with us is really helpful – especially if they turn out to be existing or future business contacts.

    I love the view from Philip Woodgate. I didn’t start blogging to be read – it was a learning opportunity, but I agree that thinking in this medium is really helpful. You can be more authoritative, especially when you are able to discuss thoughts with others. As you say, the proof in this example was winning the Accountancy Age award, which undoubtedly brought more business.

    I’ll keep an eye on the further links re the ROI report and encourage my readers also.

    Nice to blog with you…

  5. Cheers Heather! I shall be checking out your thoughts on how all of this stuff – blogging, Google AdWords, social media, etc. – is changing PR. I look forward too more conversations.

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