Should User Experience Be a PR function? Should Measurement?

I was listening to a podcast from the Measure Mob the other day, and it made me think about what pieces of social media are owned by PR. More specifically, I mean which pieces we are willing to take ownership of.

The Measure Men offered an example about how marketing folks focus a great deal on how they are driving traffic to the website, but they don’t seem to care about bounce rates or conversions. In other words, they’re only focused on what they think is their job: driving the traffic. The user experience once they get there doesn’t seem to matter to them.

But it’s not just marketing. I think a great many of us are guilty of focusing on our own little silo without thinking about the larger picture. You may drive engagement with your online community, but are your efforts somehow driving increased traffic to your customer services department? Shouldn’t you care about that?

It seems as though it’s the same with social media measurement and PR measurement. Where do you draw the line? We care about impressions and the reach of our messages, but shouldn’t we also care about things like sales and cost savings? At what point does measurement cross the line of “that’s not my job”?

Honestly, I don’t have a perfect answer. Not yet. We’re all still trying to figure out this social media stuff, but this ties back to the idea that your whole business has to be social, not just marketing or PR.

As we begin to measure PR in social media, it’s imperative that we consider the whole picture. Don’t just stop with finding the bits and pieces that fall directly under your umbrella. Everything is so connected online, and you should use those connections to increasingly show your value and improve your own work.

If you help run a Facebook community, think about the larger implications. Are you helping drive traffic to the website? Is the user experience making them bounce? What can you do to ensure the whole experience is of the same quality?

If you help to empower brand advocates to be ambassadors, don’t just focus on the obvious results. You’re helping to drive more positive conversations and correct misinformation, but have you also helped out the customer services folks? Are they providing a totally different experience? How can you change it?

Measure more than you think you’re responsible for. You can use it to prove how you can bring value to more pieces of the business.

Do you find yourself saying or thinking, “that’s not my job”? What do you do or what barriers do you face in these situations?

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  • Great post Rebecca.  It’s important to get PR folks to not only be accountable for the results of their efforts but to develop a more holistic approach to their work that focuses on not only impressions, but conversions and increases in sales.  You are spot on with your observation that sometimes we are so focused on our silos that we tend to forget why we are doing what we do – increase sales and convert leads.  

    As someone who was just put in charge of summarizing our analytics for the past year, I have quickly noticed that my efforts have not always been paying the dividends I had expected and caused me to make some major shifts in my approach to how I structure our PR efforts.

    Thanks for the reminder that even though we may operate independently of other departments, we all have the same end goals in mind.

    • Thank you, John, for putting it better than I could: “we are so focused on our silos that we tend to forget why we are doing what we do – increase sales and convert leads.” Exactly what I was trying to get at.

      It’s really interesting to hear you say you’ve adjusted your own work based on metrics. Can you share how you figured out what was or wasn’t working?

      • Rebecca, excuse the late reply but here are a couple of examples of how I figured out what was and what was not working:

        What was working:1. LinkedIn – I rely more heavily on this platform than others because I feel it is an excellent B2B tool that can have a big impact on generating leads for our company.  Each time we create a piece of content (blog, Infographic, Webinar, white paper, etc.) I post it to LinkedIn Groups that are most applicable to our market with a Google Analytics url builder link tool and then tie that into a goal of converting anyone who clicks on the links and lands on our sites to a sales form conversion metric.  I monitored this over a three month period for click thrus as well as sales form conversions and found that the site accounted for for the 3rd highest lead gen and goal conversion source we had.

        What wasn’t working:

        1. Blog posts – Even though I make a conscientious effort to keep the blog content fresh, market applicable and timely I noticed after using Google analytics that despite the fact that the blog was driving traffic to the site, and the bounce rate was low for those that landed, sales forms were not being filled out and goal conversion rates were low.  Plus, per visit goal value stats were in the bottom tier.  Solution?   I did notice that the goal conversion metric that was the most positive for the blog was our guest blog posts, especially those about controversial topics (which for my industry tends to get the highest exposure) so I am focusing on securing more guest blog posts as part of the content mix moving forward.  Plus, I am making some other minor tweaks and adjustments to the content, adding more multi-media and restructuring the distribution strategy to more applicable platforms and outlets.

        Ugh, it’s hard work but wow has it opened my eyes.  Hope this helps.

  • Anonymous

     In all honesty RD, I think that everyone in an organization needs a way to measure what they do. Showing a value is a way to increase resources and flex muscle when it comes to demonstrating ownership or expertise in an area of focus.

    User experience is something that goes well beyond the realm of something that should be considered by someone in PR or new media. The reason for this is that the workflow and experience of a site should be driven by hard numbers not assumptions of things driven by just drop offs on the site. Sure they can be an indicator, but again push for the need to institutionalize the social web. 

    Smart companies are going to get this and really make SM a useful part of the marketing mix and not just another siloed team.

    • You know I wholeheartedly agree with you, Jeff. The companies that figure out how to measure across channels and teams will be the ones who will really be successful.

      So how do we make that happen sooner? We keep talking about it? How do we start pushing folks in that direction? 

      • Anonymous

        Funny you should ask that @rebeccadenison:disqus  I am actually doing a series on that for my blog now over the next few months with an article a week on an area of integration that will be put together as an eBook shortly after when I break out my crayons.

        You can see the first post here: 

  • Ross Johnson

     User Experience should be left to user experience designers. Unless you understand the psychology of human computer interaction you are likely to do more harm than good. Everyone should definitely care about and be aware of UX, but it should be left to those who are trained in it. care about and be aware of UX, but it should be left to those who are trained in it.

    • Thanks, Ross! I’m glad someone who understand UX commented because it’s definitely something I’m not familiar with. I know what it is… 😉

      I think you’re right. We need to be aware of it, and we need to be sure we understand how we could be impacting it, but at the end of the day UX should never fully be a PR function. It’s a full-time role in and of itself. 

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