On Applying the 4T Filter: The Importance of Timing

We’ve written in the past about how to apply the 4T filter to your media tour: Talent, Topic, Timing, and Targets. Over the next few weeks, we’ll focus on breaking down those aspects. Today, we’re happy to offer 4media group’s four considerations for timing a tour. Check em out, and remember we’re always here to help if you want to talk more.

Can You Be First?

One of the most important aspects of timing has to do with where you can place a tour or story in the overall media landscape.

We recently saw some success after a PR survey and b-roll distribution pitch landed more than 50 earned television hits—including a national cable outlet and stations in New York, LA, and Dallas—because it was the first survey of the season dealing with a pretty hot topic.

If you can time a release just right, to where you’re early enough to be first, but not too early that people aren’t yet paying attention, timing can result in huge wins for both you and a client.

When Is the Tour Happening?

Harnessing the power of timing has to do with more than simply the dates that surround your tour.  The tour itself is another element of good timing, and the actual date of the tour can impact bookings in several ways.

How many SMT’s are happening on the same day? Is there a huge national news item drawing interest?

The timing of your tour is important in getting more bookings. Put simply, if there’s a ton going on in the world or even a particular locale, some stations won’t be able to make a booking a reality due to lack of real-estate—there’s no room in the show for an interview.

What’s the Runway?

When we say runway in this instance, we mean ‘how much time do you have to pitch this in for earned bookings?’

The time required for pitching can be impacted hugely by some of the other T’s, especially topic and talent. An SMT with a celebrity spokesperson can fill up in a matter of days as stations clamor to talk to a celebrity, and a strong topic should be the crux of any tour but is only made stronger when pitched at a time that makes sense.

But tours with talent pulled from the professional or industry sectors can take more time to book, and too short a runway can negatively impact those bookings. Always be certain you’ve built in time for follow-ups so that you can give stations the time they need to consider your tour.

What’s Your Clearance Window?

Fewer and fewer SMT’s are LIVE these days. That means that with the increased popularity of tape and ship interviews and segments, you have to consider the window for your piece to actually make it on air. This aspect of timing is hugely important and often misunderstood.

Remember that the end goal of all broadcast PR is in the name—a relationship with your public. And it’s the duty of agencies and SMT vendors to build in extra time so that they can create a tour that resonates with an intended audience.

For example, if you’re working for a brand that has a promotion starting or ending on a certain date, and you want to hit one of those points, it’s wise to try and conduct your SMT the week before.  Leaving only a day or two in your clearance window will limit opportunities for airing, which can limit exposure.

There is a bonus to taped interviews though: They can run any time if you give yourself enough time, and breaking news won’t necessarily ruin your moment in the limelight.

In the coming weeks, we’ll detail the other important aspects of dealing with each of the T’s—stay tuned.

Market Research Insights 8 Tips for Creating PR SurveysTrackers, Brand Tracking Surveys or Usage & Attitude Surveys are synonymous and intended to measure changes in consumer behavior related to brand, product or service over a period of time. They are also known as waves, as like a wave, they run repeatedly every X months or years, generally using the same questions and metrics. Brand Tracking Research differs from the normal consumer survey as it relies on metric measurement and changes in measurement from wave to wave. Tracking Survey.jpg Before you run a wave or tracker, it is important you have a clear segment and agreed brand positioning in mind; it must be clear why you intend to measure and how it will be measured. The research agency undertaking the fieldwork can help you establish HOW to do this, however it is your task as the client to determine WHY you are running a tracker. Frequency of the tracker is also important. You don’t want to run recurrently as saturation can result. Comparatively, you don’t want to measure too sporadically. Generally, you want to match them with launching, changing or testing new advertisements, products or services. You want to ensure you get data back in time for your company strategy meeting. Global brands will run trackers every month, big brands once a quarter, medium brands twice a year and smaller, yearly. The logic: unless your brand is omnipresent, it will be difficult to find a qualifying sample for monthly or quarterly studies. It is also unlikely that attitudes and usage would change quickly enough. An ubiquitous brand can experience changes in U&A fairly often with additional factors and exposure that can lead to such variations, so they monitor more often. It is advisable that smaller brands run trackers yearly or twice a year at most. With a smaller consumer pool to reach, constructing a decent size fresh sample proves difficult. As such, repeat sample may need to be used. In this case, respondents must be given adequate time before being re-invited to a tracker to ensure objective metric measurement, without previous wave bias. This is called an exclusion period. Now we ask ourselves: do we use fresh sample for each wave or use repeat sample? The answer is never straight forward. Tracker studies must be conducted with a sample that is brand aware, otherwise it would not be possible to measure changes of attitudes (i.e.: if X has never heard of XYZ brand, X won’t be able to measure/rank brand attributes). For well-known brands, it is easy to secure fresh samples, but for smaller ones, it’s often a challenge. This means samples must be re-used. Allowing enough time between trackers ensures answers are not affected by previous waves. Reasons for using fresh samples each tracker include avoiding bias, over-exposure, fatigue and subjectivity in relation to the answers. It also means there cannot be a true correlation in metric variations. A true correlation within a time interval should be measured against equal subjects, minimizing respondent dependent variations (i.e.: asking the same question each year for 10 years to the same person vs asking the same question each year to different people). Surveys.jpg The middle way uses a split sample of 50% fresh and 50% re-used and creates further correlations between U&A changes. However, this is not always an affordable luxury. To measure trackers the correct way, it’s important you are always using rating and ranking scales. For more in-depth insight, card-slot style questions are recommended. To avoid subjectivity and misread questions, the tracker would consist of rated questions with a clearly balanced scale. Rank questions are also used to define stratification and importance of a group. Card slots are hybrid questions where respondents assign a series of attributes to specific products and are more complex than MaxDiff and Conjoint studies. MaxDiff are used to obtain importance (or preference) scores for different items; also known as best-worst scale. Conjoint, similar to MaxDiff, select a group of attributes but don't need to be opposite each other and can be similar. Ultimately, trackers or wave studies, are cost effective quantitative research options to measure usage and attitudes. They provide insightful business analytics, allow consumer trend understanding, rectify mal-intended business solutions and generate lucrative material for marketing, R&D and advertising departments. Wondering if it's time for your brand to conduct a tracking survey?