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It’s hard to browse any remotely technical publication these days without seeing stories about The Internet of Things (IoT). A Google search for the term reveals about 729,000,000 results. There are probably just about as many ways of describing what it is. Here’s our take, and our thoughts on how it relates to PR.
What is It?
The Internet of Things is the collection of physical objects - mobile devices, cars, houses, buildings and other items which are embedded with software, sensors, and network connectivity, that enables these objects to collect and exchange data. Some examples that you might already own include your smartphone, tablet, TV, home security and environmental control system, Fitbit, and speaker system. Cisco estimates the IoT will consist of 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. The Internet of Things is a fact of life in the modern world and the number and types of connected devices will continue to grow at a breakneck pace.
But here’s the thing we think gets lost in the talk about all of our “smart stuff.” It isn’t the “things” that improves lives, it’s the data. Well, not the data exactly. As Jack Levis, UPS Director of Process Management said, “It’s not the data alone that helps us improve. It’s what we do with it that makes the difference.”
Ever sense the business began, insurance agencies have used demographic and geographic information to attempt to assign a risk level to drivers. Teenage boys in urban areas pay a lot more than middle aged women in the suburbs. This is based on the assumption that people in certain groups tend to behave like their peers and that, therefore, historical data related to that cohort can predict future outcomes. But of course, not all teenage boys or middle aged women a have the same driving habits. (Some soccer moms are downright dangerous.) The Internet of Things has enabled insurance companies to offer a new approach to risk assessment. A device installed on the car transmits data related to how, where and when the car is driven. Pricing can be customized to the actual risks of operating a vehicle rather than based on proxies such as a driver’s age, gender, or place of residence.
The Internet of PR
Not unlike insurance agencies, PR professionals once had to assign value to various campaigns, earned media mentions and content based on “proxies” like Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE), frequency and reach. Unable to accurately report on results, we produced reports that cataloged activity, like the number of press releases published or the number of mentions. But just as the Internet of Things has enabled insurance companies to make a more accurate risk assessment, the Internet of PR, our connected digital medial landscape and the tools we use to monitor it, make it possible to make a more accurate impact assessment of our PR efforts. We can now have visibility into how each mention or piece of content moves the needle on website traffic, conversions, and revenue.
The Internet of Things and the Internet of PR are genies that won’t go back into the lamp. Tomorrow’s successful brands (and professionals, for that matter) will be those who make the best use of data. The TrendKite team is dedicated to helping our clients do exactly that.