Has Onalytica’s Flemming Madsen settled the PR blog debate?

Onalytica use sophisticated techniques to identify blogging influence and Flemming Madsen, its founder, has just published his take on PR Blog influence.

His methodology is summarised as:

  1. Using a topical crawl of the Internet, blog posts that discussed the topic of “PR” and “Blogs” in the same article were collected along with blog posts that were sufficiently referenced in this context. (Meaning: If you discuss the topic of “PR” and “Blogs” or being discussed in that context, then you are a candidate).
  2. Some blogs, that appeared to be very closely related, were consolidated and some blogs/websites were manually removed because they were not deemed relevant to the context.
  3. The posts were analysed for references/citations between them. The citations were extracted and turned into a massive system of simultaneous equations that were solved to provide influence.
  4. The influence was normalised to a scale between 1 and 100.

The resulting list looks like this (I’m hosting it here for comparison purposes and so I don’t pinch any of Flemming’s bandwidth – I recommend you read his posting in full for the details):

Can you see me? Yes, I’m second bottom. As Flemming says, different searches might yield different results, so I guess you could say I’m not exclusively PR and blogging because I’m also copywriting. Or perhaps I’m just not very influential!

A comparison of the blogs common to Onalytica’s study and my PowerPR index  shows this (both studies contained about the same number of blogs so these positions are comparable):

Onalytica    PowerPR   Blog
1 1 Micro Persuasion
2 22 Strategic Public Relations
3 19 PR meets the WWW (Constantin Basturea)
4 10 Pop! PR Jots
7 4 NevilleHobson.com
10 41 Murphy’s Law
11 38 PR Studies
12 11 Communication Overtones
14 7 On Message Wagner Comms
15 2 Online Marketing Blog
16 8 PR Squared
17 46 KDPaine’s PR Measurement Blog
20 43 Corporate PR
23 17 PR Blogger
25 33 PR Communications
29 3 Center for Media and Democracy (PR Watch)
31 51 Young PR
32 24 Tech PR Gems
38 40 Buzz Bin
40 27 Media Guerrilla
45 34 Common Sense PR
48 23 Pro PR
50 20 A PR Guy’s Musings (Stuart Bruce)
64 49 Alan Weinkrantz PR Web Log
66 67 DummySpit
67 26 IndiaPRBlog!
69 42 Piaras Kelly PR – Irish Public Relations
71 48 Heather Yaxley – Greenbanana PR
79 37 PR. Differently
82 58 Naked PR
84 56 Friendly Ghost

There are some agreements – Micropersuasion will always be pretty much in a league of its own, and there are occasional near-parities such as Communication Overtones and Dummyspit, but mainly Flemming’s study shows a very different picture. PR.Differently, IndiaPRBlog, Murphy’s Law and A PR Guy’s Musings (Stuart Bruce) all shift rank by at least 30 places.

It’s a telling comparison between simple home-brewed methodologies looking purely at publicly available metrics (ie mine), and a rigorous approach using established analytical techniques.

Of course, a lot of this boils down to the initial list. Flemming has some on his which I do not, and vice versa. However I’m surprised that a shel of my former self, Strumpette, Todd Andrlik and the world’s leading aren’t included because my perception was that they were heavyweights. Todd owns the Power150 which is competing to become a standard and whereas Neville Hobson is rated, his close associate Shel Holtz is not. And I can only assume it was modesty on Flemming’s behalf not to include Onalytica’s own blog in the study.

So what happens now? Has Flemming settled the debate? Or does it merely contribute to the ever-increasing number of measurement tools being developed? I think it’s very interesting to see how proprietary number-crunching systems throw up unexpected results. Having talked with Flemming and seen the system in action, I have confidence in the Onalytica study.

However, by its very nature it is proprietary, and therefore it still doesn’t ‘standardise’ on measurement. We don’t all have server farms or software that can solve huge numbers of simultaneous equations. So unless we all approach Onalytica with certain unspecified sums of money, we’re still largely working with what’s publicly available.

Personally, it also raises the question as to whether there’s much point continuing the PowerPR list. In the light of the Power150’s ascendancy to the firmament and pretty much proof positive that true influence has little to do with popularity, I struggle to think of a reason why my pitiful attempt at devising a ranking scheme should survive. It provided great linkbait, but that honestly wasn’t the reason I did it.

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10 thoughts on “Has Onalytica’s Flemming Madsen settled the PR blog debate?

  1. Not sure this method works as some of the best PR blogs, will actually talk about blogs and blogging very little, but about public relations and business quite a lot.

    One reason for my blog shifting rank significantly is I probably talk about public relations, far more than I talk about PR. In fact I only tend to use PR to help with SEO (and then only when I remember). I personally don’t like PR as it can also stand for press relations, where as public relations makes it crystal clear you are talking about a much broader management discipline.

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  3. I just checked his blog posting and that is indeed the case. However, looks like he may have messed up a bit with some copying and pasting which accounts for people like Shel Holtz being omitted. I’ve done this in the past – in fact in my comparison of PowerPR and Onalytica rankings my initial posting had all the Onalytica rankings wrong but I spotted it and changed it quickly. When you’re dealing with large amounts of figures and tables it’s easy to make a mistake, and I guess Flemming made one.

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  5. The question is, what does all these rankings accomplish? I think having a benchmark of some sort is nice, but it needs to be considered in light of its overall benefits.

    I like the Power 150 because it helps me discover blogs I didn’t know about before and it is automated to give me a view of where a blog is relative to others at any given moment. it also has new cache of authority with the AdeAge partnership.

    The Onalytica ranking is simply an ad for the capability of the company. I argue that assembling a list using citation analysis is a great way to start the process of building a relevant list for say, a blogger relations program. I don’t think it should become a defacto for ranking bloggers overall.

    And your ranking, while nice for the ego and interesting, doesn’t do much else in that it is neither automated or authoritative.

  6. True, Flemming’s post is an advert for the company but that doesn’t stop it from being interesting.

    The rankings show, I think, how influence is different from popularity, nothing more, nothing less. If you add up a load of popularity figures you get a different picture from really digging deep into citation analysis (and input/output analysis and automatic sentimenting which I know Onalytica uses).

    I also made the point that it isn’t a publicly available metric so you’re right, it’s something that would definitely form the basis of a blogger relations programme and whereas it is a good indicator of influence from Onalytica, we don’t have access to their resources. But I would never expect
    a decent PR company to launch a blogging campaign on the back of a few Technorati Authority and Yahoo Links figures either.

    Regarding my index, well I’m working on automating it (which is why it hasn’t come out in a while), but I’d question what you mean by it not being ‘authoritative’? Do you mean because it doesn’t have enough entries on it? Or enough metrics? Don’t think for a moment that I truly believe either the index or myself to be authoritative but I’d like clarification here. And in fact I’m questioning the ‘need’ for my index given that the Power150 is so comprehensive and has been adopted by Ad Age. In truth, I only published it
    in the first case to get an idea for how such an index created from my PR blogroll would look – don’t forget, on the very first edition I was virtually at the bottom!

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  8. Pingback: I cannot understand why Ad Age has decided to adopt Alexa as a metric « Brendan Cooper - A copywriter in tech PR

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