The Outcome Relations Customer Journey
Over the last ten years as CEO of the North 6th Agency, I’ve sat across from thousands of CMOs, CEOs, founders, and brand marketers in pitch meetings trying to convince them to loosen their purse strings and hire N6A as their PR agency.
The common thread was that all of these companies felt they had to invest in public relations, but they weren’t sure why. More importantly, they weren’t sure how to measure and trace it back to the goals that actually mattered to their business.
Clients say they wanted PR, but what they really need is to reach their goals.
Outcome Relations (OR) is a model that takes all of the positive elements of traditional PR practices—messaging and positioning, earned media, analyst briefings, crisis communications, awards, and speaking— and combines those with a direct link to KPIs, analytics, and accountability.
If a PR person earns coverage of your company in the Wall Street Journal, they’ve basically done their job. But what if that Wall Street Journal article didn’t ultimately lead to the business outcome you wanted? Well, usually the agency eventually gets canned.
Even though it isn’t technically the PR agency’s fault, representing clients in the grand scheme of that client’s desired results is the agency’s responsibility. To effectively do that, agencies must reinvent themselves by being accountable for those business results. Agency and client alike should be married, transparent, and completely aligned in their goals to drive the client’s business outcomes — and that happens with OR.
Let’s do some role playing to illustrate how the OR process works in six steps:
Step 1: Choose Your Outcome
There are six categories of outcomes to choose from. Each category has multiple subcategories, but let’s say you’re a hip, young restaurant in a trendy area looking to boost recruiting and talent acquisition, and choose that as your desired outcome.
Step 2: Outcome Summit
The Outcome Summit is the first order of business for a client and our agency once the outcomes have been selected. Both the OR team and the client coordinate an Outcome Summit to kick off the campaign together, and create outcome personas — or the people you believe will be influenced by the outcome you want to achieve.
For example, in recruiting and talent acquisition, a good desired outcome persona to focus on is a millennial female who works in the hospitality industry in a major metropolitan area. The OR team then works with your team to determine which credibility assets make the most sense for this persona.
On to the next step…
Step 3: KPI Alignment
Overall KPIs should be set for each persona and tracked incrementally with milestones and credibility asset benchmarks along the way. Generally speaking, KPI benchmarks should be set on a three, six, or twelve-month rolling basis.
In our example, some targeted credibility assets for the specific female millennial persona include earned media coverage in millennial lifestyle blogs, such as PopSugar and Well+Good, a “Best Place to Work” award for your company in major media outlets, or a spotlight speaking engagement on a millennial workforce topic at TEDx, and so on.
Step 4: Execution
Here’s where the real fun begins — not to mention the real accountability!
OR pros will get that media coverage in PopSugar by further nurturing relationships with lifestyle bloggers and continue to be fluent in what they’re interested in. If the speaking engagement at TEDx is the number one priority, the team content whiz who understands how to draft speaking abstracts, or other team members who know how to nurture relationships with decision-makers at speaking events like TEDx, will make these credibility assets a reality.
Step 5: Amplification
Staying with the millennial female buyer persona in the previous steps as our example — once the credibility assets are secured in Step 4, the OR team will create amplification assets in Step 5.
These amplification assets showcase the credibility assets in front of the audience that fits the description of the targeted buyer persona — a millennial female who works in hospitality in major metropolitan cities.
They could be anything from Instagram sponsored posts, Google Ads, landing pages with lead capture forms, email newsletters, or more.
Step 6: Optimization & Analytics
Using the millennial female buyer persona mentioned above, you could take the audience from the amplification asset to a custom careers landing page with a lead capture form to convert them to the restaurant’s recruitment pipeline.
While the OR process is wrapped up, Step 6 remains ongoing. The OR team uses current results to deliver custom measurement reports to track the analytics and KPIs that are meaningful to the client for their desired outcomes. In the case of our example, these continuous metrics would be geared toward whether the campaign was able to help facilitate a recruiting and talent acquisition pipeline for the client.
Outcome Relations disrupts the outdated public relations agency framework. Ultimately, by creating an inherent level of accountability for the usual imprecise PR metrics, the result is that the OR campaign drives the true outcomes needed by the client to support their company goals.
Which of the 6 OR steps do you think makes the strongest impact on the outdated PR model?
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