This Data Proves PR ...


I’ve been wanting to use this data for some time.

But I needed to allow the statute of limitations to run its course since the data comes from a specific client engagement.

The client was Novellus, a player in the semiconductor capital equipment space. It’s been over five years since Lam Research swallowed up Novellus, so I think it’s fair to say that these “state secrets” no longer have value to competitors.

Let me set the stage.

We won the Novellus agency review based on a simple premise, “Get the basics right.” What’s more, we took the position that if the company followed our guidance, we could quantify the difference in our approach to the company’s existing PR program.

This measurement consisted of conducting interviews with a cross section of influencers, journalists, market analysts, industry bloggers, etc. We asked each person to rate Novellus and the No. 1 player in semi capital equipment sector, Applied Materials, on the following variables using a scale of one to five, with five being outstanding and one being dreadful:

  • Regularity of communications
  • Relevancy of content
  • Responsiveness
  • Access to senior executives

Since our PR support addressed the U.S. and Asia Pacific, we conducted these interviews in both regions with the first set of interviews taking place before jumping into the execution phase to establish a benchmark.

This is when I cue up the virtual drum roll to introduce the data.U.S. PR ScoreAsia PR Score 01-16The point is, when it comes to the influencer relations component of a communications campaign, simply executing the fundamentals can make a difference.

It’s worth noting that at the time, Novellus’s revenue was roughly $1.3B, a fraction of Applied’s $7B in revenue. Yet, in one short year we were able to lift the Novellus communications and gain parity with the Applied program.

At this point, you might be thinking, “Nice job getting your act together with process, but this doesn’t tell us anything about changing perceptions.”

Fair comment.

We also asked influencers in both regions to rate how they perceive the overall public profile of both companies.

In the chart below, we roll up the U.S. and Asia data into one perceived public score.U.S.+Asia Public Profile Score 01-16Again, Novellus made up considerable ground on Applied – 2X to be exact – as far as perceived public profile.

Of course, I recognize that this is only one piece of the communications campaign puzzle. As the communications function increasingly moves to integrated campaigns covering earned media, owned media and even paid media, measurement takes on greater sophistication.

Still, this data reveals that on the influencer relations front, if you nail four fundamentals — regularity of communications, relevancy of content, responsiveness and access to senior executives — you’ve got the makings of a successful campaign.


  • Frank Strong

    Interesting way to quantify effort. I’ve done this for planning, perceptions and products, but never year-over-year as a benchmark. How big was the sample? What level — i.e. mainstream/top-tier, or trades, bloggers? Any push back from those surveyed?

    • Lou Hoffman

      Let me start with the caveat that the sample size wouldn’t satisfy the stat jockeys. We interviewed 20 folks in each geography, pulling from all quarters (business journalists, trade journalists, bloggers, market analysts).

      Because we’ve worked in the semiconductor space for so many years, we’ve cultivated relationships with the influencers which allows for this type of exercise. With that said, your point is a fair one. The PR function has played the media audit card so many times, journalists (and other influencers) do tend to resist.

  • Frank Strong

    It’s impressive. I was thinking about the mechanics of such an engagement.

    • Lou Hoffman

      Tricky mechanics. Without the deep relationships, it’s tough to pull off.


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