June 28, 2017
/ by Lacey Miller
It won’t surprise readers of this blog, or anyone involved in PR, when we say that the practice of public relations is evolving quickly. We’ve made the adjustment to our new data-focused reality. Most of us have given up AVE and other outdated PR measurements in favor of outcome-based metrics. And we’ve learned to focus on quality coverage over quantity. The pace of change is not slowing down, so PR professionals have to be ready to embrace it.
The next shift to prepare for is a new way of understanding media monitoring. The passive tactic of simply watching what has happened is giving way to PR analytics approaches that let you predict what will happen and even shape it. Don’t get us wrong, it will always be essential to engage in media monitoring, but rather than being only a way to measure what you did, it is becoming the way to inform what you should do.
The old approach to media monitoring was to run a campaign, monitor the media, and assess how successful the campaign was. That’s fine, but what’s more valuable is to leverage the data to make decisions about what will make the campaign successful in the first place. Understanding which messages, reporters, outlets, and influencers have moved the needle on core metrics in the past helps you set the target for the next campaign. Spotting trends in coverage on both a macro level (your whole industry, perhaps) and a micro level (an individual media contact), gives you insight into what may resonate right now.
Too often, PR pros focus on the end result of a campaign. Once it ends, all of the mentions are tallied and assessed for sentiment. But that’s a bit like taking a class with no assignments and only a final exam. You won’t know if you are doing well until it is too late to adjust. On the other hand, if you engage PR analytics and pay careful attention to how information and messages are being received from the beginning, you can make game time adjustments as needed and predict how that type of information will be received in the future. When you can make accurate predictions about how your audience and media contacts will react to particular messages, you can begin to actually shape the conversation in a way that favors your brand. In fact, the patterns have far more meaning than any single mention.
Identifying media mentions of your brand is relatively easy, identifying those that matter is more challenging but vastly more useful. Google Alerts will tell you if CNN mentioned your brand, but it won’t tell you what impact that mention will have on business objectives. Today’s business leaders want more than a “feel good” catalog of media mentions from public relations. They want measurable ROI in terms of website traffic, lead generation, and revenue. Making those connections requires more than simple monitoring.
For a long time, PR pros focused many on reach to determine the value of each media mention, but reach is only one of the factors that determine how impactful a mention might be. Social amplification and sentiment are also essential in determining whether a mention will truly matter. (Check out our Article Impact feature for more on this.) Articles with high readership, positive sentiment, and lots of social engagement are the ones that will produce results and perform well on search.
In sports, players are often taught to go, not where the ball is, but to where the ball is going to be. That’s what PR analytics is all about, staying a move or two ahead so that you are ready for what’s to come. Media monitoring is not a dirty word, but it is definitely not the last word.
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