Communication’s funnel: Right understanding to true value

Mai Anh Le, Country Manager of PR Newswire Vietnam - Mar 24, 2020 | 08:49 AM GMT+7

TheLEADERCommunication and public relations (PR) has always been considered difficult to evaluate effectiveness. The measurement of a media campaign’s results is now no longer limited by the number of articles (press clips) or monthly direct traffic.

However, to evaluate the effectiveness of any media campaign, we need to base on a certain framework for communication and PR. This is called the communication’s funnel. So, what is the concept of the communication’s funnel and what does it include? In particular, CISION Group (NYSE: CISN) has introduced a specific concept of communication’s funnel in quarter 4, 2019. 

Communication’s funnel: Right understanding to true value
Communication’s funnel

From repeating PR theories to the specification of metrics that characterizes each metric, professional PR practitioners can then identify which phase of the product communication and marketing process they stay so that they can measure it accordingly. Thereby, companies' board of management can recognize as well as acknowledge those efforts from communication department in general or from the specialized department in particular.

Often at the top of the funnel, brand level is what most people think of when mentioning the impact of communication and public relations on a business. This is very important and obvious, but it is not the whole contribution made by PR. It is just a step of beginning. A brand is perceived in the market by appearing in the minds of potential customers or the majority of the publicity. It manifests itself through concepts such as awareness (the public even knows business or brand exist), mindshare (when they think about the business industry, which brands do they first think about) and reputation (good, bad, or neutral).

Once people are aware of, and facilitate the processing or interaction with an organization or a brand, then these communication activities are considered to be effective. However, it is clearly increasingly difficult to attract any attention among a world of chaos and uncertainty and thus awareness - in these days is really hard to archive while the media scene is riddled with VUCA by flooding overflow fake news. How do people in this sector measure the effectiveness of a campaign when people already know that this business or brand exists?

Mentions have long been seen as a way to measure brand awareness because it is a simple way to attract the attention that marketers and communicators are creating in the market. Besides, it is very important to know not only the quality of mentions a brand is getting, but also the quality of them (sentiment).

There is always the possibility that any metrics the company tracks are not going in the direction which the leadership wants. Secondly, it is the mindshare concept. When it comes, often we will imagine what searching trends in mentions are specifically referred to the distinctive characteristics/ identities of brands or businesses?

For example, a KOL mentions directly a specific article about the company or product, instead of a fleeting mention in an article on another topic. And this will affect the reputation of an enterprise (more or less). A successful media campaign will always have to keep track of its scope of activities to resonate with the society amplification, the target audience. This is considered a good proxy for the mission and corporate communications messages. 

Not only that, in the digital era, monitoring tool has made great strides in the ability to quantify everything including PR activities when people used to worry that this is a difficult to measure. 

Communication’s funnel: Right understanding to true value 1

CEO and Founder of Pencil Group Nguyen Tien Huy, who has 13 years of experience in advertising, software solution, and strategic consultancy for many brands, said that normally, there will be two ways to improve the traffic to a company’s website. They are media mentions in direct and through referral backlinks.

In order to get direct traffic, the content which is media message must be sufficient or can create enough curiosity for audience to actively seek out more information directly. Previously, most of enterprises put a lot of emphasis on having strong domains which contain short keywords with very high search volume. Owning these domains, when doing SEO (search engine optimization) will be somewhat easier. 

However, the fact is that Google's algorithms now focus on quality of content, no longer getting high scores for domain names. Therefore the most basic way to get direct traffic is by creating a killer content. In addition, Huy emphasized: "If the articles being published for the purpose of getting digital traffic, the key element that should be included is backlink. It will help to generate more traffic as well as create referrals for the website."

Communication’s funnel: Right understanding to true value 2

However, beyond SEO and traffic, one of the ways to measure the effectiveness of communication activities is social media. Thanks to social media's presence, the amplification in the media is more and more powerful. 

Social media is a great place for PR or marcom pro not only maintaining the relationships they already have in the industry, but also being able to connect with a wide range of people and KOLs. However, we need treat this networking tool professionally because the ultimate goal is to connect at the human level. 

Talking about this issue, CEO of Forbes Vietnam Duong Thu Huong said that in recent years, KOL/Influencers marketing is increasing. There is no doubt that the positive impact of that channel, but I personally think that KOLs or the influencers are not the key. 

"The key here is the targeted audiences that enterprises/ brands focus whom decides whether the enterprise chooses KOLs, the appropriate influencer or not. Communication is always a two-way and reversible activity, it aims delivering the message out and receiving the interaction by return," said Huong. 

Communication’s funnel: Right understanding to true value 3

Along with this comment, Deputy General Director of Kido Group Ma Thanh Danh (Albert Ma) said that Kido Group itself is quite careful when selecting PR campaigns. There are many game-show with "hot" KOLs but contrary to the KIDO’s communication message, we hardly can choose.

By all means, any communication or marketing activity has the ultimate goal of directing consumers’ behavior, generating revenue for the company. This is also the last filter in the communication’s funnel which is mentioned above. Danh added: "Media costs can be considered as an investment. However, if done wrong, it can become a long-term risk".

It is very common for all PR measurements to be concentrated in the top first 1/3 of the communication’s funnel, but the actual measurements is at the 2nd and 3rd filter of the funnel. They are the decisive factors for re-investment. A campaign is completed, however, measuring bottom line impact is still underway.