Jan 20, 2011

Communicating (and capturing opportunity) in real-time

Opportunity Communications

It’s safe to say most public relations departments have a crisis communications plan firmly in place. And it’s probably been updated recently, to include responding in social channels.   But what about responding quickly to opportunities?  David Meerman Scott, in his address to PR Newswire’s assembled global sales and marketing teams, threw down this gauntlet.  And he’s got a point.  We shouldn’t save fast, smart, savvy communications tactics for crises.  We should use them for fast-moving market opportunities too.  Here’s an example he offered.

In May of last year, Oracle announced the acquisition of the intellectual property of the marketing automation company, Market2Lead, in a three-line post on its web site.

Joe Payne, CEO of Eloqua, a Market2Lead competitor, was at dinner when he was alerted to the acquisition, minutes after it was announced.  He responded that evening with a blog post in which he defined what the Oracle acquisition meant for the lead management marketplace.  The company also issued a response in a press release.

As Scott noted, Eloqua owned the soundbite.  Payne’s blog post and the company’s press release offered rich insight and commentary on the marketplace, the CEO’s sophisticated perspective and provided a treasure trove of quotes – none of which were to be found in the Oracle announcement.

The results were profound. Eloqua’s perspective was widely reported in the news coverage of Oracle’s acquisition, in publications such as BusinessWeek, InfoWorld and PCWeek.

Scott challenges PR to ratchet up our response mechanisms, suggesting that organizations need to equip themselves to identify and respond to opportunities with immediacy.   We need to move from listening and monitoring to responding with energy and enthusiasm.

“When you’re generating interest, the opportunity is NOW,” he says.  Steps organizations need to take to calibrate themselves to win in real-time include:

  • Appoint a chief real-time officer.  The person in charge of thinking about today.
  • Develop guidelines that enable, encourage and empower employees to communicate in real-time.
  • Fine tune the infrastructure to support real-time responses.  The front line – communications, customer service, sales – needs to be working in synch to deliver upon the promises real-time response makes.

What’s the ROI on real-time communications?  Scott delved into that question, researching the response times of the Fortune 100.  Only 28 companies responded to a query he submitted, with most of those responding taking a day or less to do so.

Scott then looked at the stock prices of the Fortune 100 for the eight months preceding his survey (December 31, 2009 – September 3, 2010).  The data was unequivocal.  The 28 companies that responded showed an average of 3% growth in their stock prices, in a down market.  Collectively, the companies that didn’t respond showed a loss in stock price of almost 2% for the same period.   That five percent swing, Meerman Scott says, is the ROI of real-time communication.

Information exchange is real-time, too

In addition to defining the conversation and grabbing a share of the immediate attention, real-time communications deliver other visibility benefits.  Search engines surface content from the social layer – blog posts, Tweets, information shared on Facebook – within seconds now, and display those results on page one of the search engine results pages.

Consumers and B2B buyers consult their social network before making buying decisions – whether they’re buying movie tickets, a new mountain bike or a new VOIP system for their business – trusting reviews and feedback from their peers in networks.

The opportunities to capitalize on breaking news and influence buying decisions are ongoing, and the imperative for communicators is clear – if your brand’s content isn’t there, these opportunities are being missed.  And, as David Meerman Scott reminds us, those opportunities to generate coverage, own the conversation and connect with our audiences are at hand, right now.

Authored by Sarah Skerik, VP social media, PR Newswire.

Other resources:

David Meerman Scott’s original blog posts on the Eloqua story, the ROI of real-time and another great example of real-time PR.

You need to listen before you can act.  PR Newswire Media Monitoring provides comprehensive monitoring of social and traditional media channels.

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