What are people saying about… PR?

This is another in a series of posts in which I set up dashboards to get an overview of what people are saying, and where they’re saying it.

This time: PR. Public Relations. The art and science of spin, persuasion, influence. Whatever you want to call it, the chances are that today, you read, watched, saw or listened to something that had a PR agency behind it, and you didn’t even know it. More importantly, the likelihood is that somewhere down the line – not today, not tomorrow, but sometime, to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart – you will make a choice that was influenced by that ‘thing’ you read/watched/saw/heard. You may not like this idea, but it’s true. That’s why the entire industry – plus advertising, plus marketing – exists.

Anyway, click here to see the dashboard, or click the image below (if Posterous will let me include the image this time, that is):

I initially set out with this dashboard to throw in EVERYTHING – that is, social video, photo, comments, networks, news, the whole kit and caboodle. After a day or so of watching the results come in I started to tweak the keywords. At first it seemed fairly obvious: it’s just ‘PR’ or ‘Public Relations’, innit? Sadly, no. Here are some of the keywords you need to exclude:

  • Phrases for which ‘PR’ is short-hand. To wit: “Project Reality”, “proportional representation”, “page rank”, “power ranger” and not forgetting the world-famous “Pakatan Rakyat”.
  • Words that PR agencies tended to use to promote themselves, such as ‘sizzle’ (as in ‘sizzle reel’). I wasn’t interested in what PR agencies said about themselves. I wanted to know what people were saying about them.
  • Weird stuff. ‘Hockey’. ‘Football’. And ‘Run of the Cat’. No, really. Check it out on YouTube (don’t worry, it’s not rude).

After a while I started to get closer to what I was really after. I wanted specifically to know what people thought or felt about PR, not just what they were saying about it. So I started feeding phrases such as “I think PR”, “I feel PR”, “I don’t know if PR”, and so on. This was quite successful in giving an overview not of what people were saying about PR, but how they were affected by it.

Then, again, I realised it would be much more interesting to distil even further. So let’s look at a ‘Blair binary’. Let’s look at people who love PR, and people who hate PR. This is #PRLove and #PRWin, directly compared.

So, that’s what I’ve done. I’ve pared this right down so you can see the phrases ‘I love PR’ and ‘I love Public Relations’ compared directly with their counterparts ‘I hate PR’ and ‘I hate Public Relations’.

And you know what? Many more people seem to love it than hate it. This surprised me – a lot.

Way back in time Jonathan Hopkins created the #PRFail Tumblr blog so that people could generally whinge and moan about the state of the PR nation. In reaction, I created #PRWin to balance the books. #PRFail won, by quite some distance, and this told me that there was a vast, fetid, pus-filled ocean of ire and resentment reserved especially for the PR specialists.

But this dashboard tells me something different. Go and take a look. There are more tweets that love PR than hate it. There are so few ‘hate PR’ tweets that at the time of writing, no one has actually issued a tweet containing the phrase ‘I hate PR’ or ‘I hate Public Relations’. Ah, there we go – ok, some people have, but not many.

So, there you have it. Love and hate, the two basic drivers of human instinct, all neatly packaged into one dashboard. It might be interesting to extend this to advertising and marketing, just to see how we’re all faring relative to each other. And I’m working on a way to display stacked charts showing numbers of mentions for each platform in near real-time. All that needs to happen to make that possible is for Google to fix its importfeed function. Then we’ll be laughing. Ha ha.

Posted via email from Brendan Cooper – your friendly social media-savvy freelance copywriter and social media consultant.

2 thoughts on “What are people saying about… PR?

  1. Hi Brendan

    This promises to be fascinating – I for one am staying tuned! I suspect that the “love-in” for public relations may in part be as a result of PR people being extremely prolific in using social media – I suspect that this skews the results. Or maybe people really do love us after all. You’ll be giving Max Clifford a good name if you’re not careful.

    Jonathan Hemus
    Insignia Communications

  2. This is possibly true, although from what I gathered the #PRFail initiative was also really the property of PR people too. It sort of made sense that PR people were like ‘real’ people in that they were more apt to complain about things being bad, than rave about things being good.

    Part of me wonders whether I went too far in reducing this down to ‘love and hate’. Maybe I should amplify back up to what I originally intended – just everything everyone was saying about PR. But that left a lot of room for people to crow about themselves, which I also didn’t want. We’ll see.

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