Date
17 March 2009
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so, why are you guys called 80:20 Communications anyway?

This question comes up with such regularity in meetings that I’m tempted to have a summary printed on the back of our business cards.  Why 80:20 Communications?

There are several good reasons for choosing our name.  For one, it’s a nice change from just picking a name out of London’s A to Z map (College Hill, Finsbury, Bankside are part of a long, long list – who ever said PR was a creative industry?!).  The real answer, however, is that it’s all about targeting. 

The bit I tend to steer away from, lest eyes glaze over, is how Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto came up with a rule suggesting that roughly 80% of effects result from only about 20% of causes – the Pareto Principle.

Instead, I explain that in a world of scarce time and resources, you have to focus your energies where you will get the greatest benefit.  And, sure enough, the vast majority of the impact you are after comes from only a minority of factors.  Think rifle shot, not blunderbuss.

This principle has applied for many years in media relations, particularly since email came along to make issuing press releases soooooo easy.  Ask any journalist on a top trade magazine, national newspaper or broadcast outlet how many press releases they get in a day and they probably won’t even know.  The reason is that they get so many that it is overwhelming.  An average newspaper journalist will easily be on the receiving end of 300 press releases in a day, so you can guess how many actually get read.

Unless you are a household name organisation with genuinely significant news, sending out a ‘one size fits all’ press release to hundreds of journalists is bad practice.  Does it still happen? Of course, and I’m embarrassed to say that sometimes we do it ourselves for clients who particularly require that treatment for certain announcements.  In general, however, we strongly advise our clients to adopt a far more tailored approach and focus on those few titles and journalists who really exert the greatest influence on their target audience.  Media relations is the subtle art of matching the needs of the company to the needs of the media, and the best results come from dealing with journalists as individuals.

In the online world, 80:20 has even greater resonance as a guiding principle for search marketing.  A while back a Google insider let a major cat out of the bag by conceding that 80% of searchers click on a natural or organic search listing, versus 20% clicking on a paid for Adword listing.  For a business that makes its money selling the latter this admission was something of a stink bomb. However, in truth, this is something we all pretty much knew anyway and is why 80:20 Communications is focused on delivering effective SEO PR services as part of our integrated communications approach.

While our focus is particularly on off-page optimisation, the rule applies equally to on-page work and the detailed business of analytics.  E-Consultancy has posted a very good Q&A on this very topic, which gives a nice account of how the 80:20 rule plays an essential role in SEO.

Marc Cornelius

Managing Director & Founder

Marc has over 20 years’ international PR experience gained at leading agencies and in-house. He has specialised in aviation and travel for a decade, devising and overseeing successful international PR programmes and building 80:20 Communications into an acclaimed sector specialist.

Article Author Marc Cornelius