Jan 22, 2019 / in Comms Best Practices / by Nadin Vernon

Editor's Note: This article was first published as a chapter within AMEC's free eBook "Demonstrating the Value of Communication"

Finding new ways to implement strategies is at the heart of those who embrace innovation and adapt to changes in the industry. Technologies already available, as well as those being developed as we speak, have the potential to revolutionize existing methods. There has never been a better time for PR measurement.

Working agency-side, you can let automation take care of the legwork and use valuable analyst time to interpret results and add value by storytelling. If you’re in-house, looking to set up your own program, you can benefit in the same way. There are hundreds of easy-to-use tools available that will help you on your journey. Several of them are free. To utilize these tools effectively you need to ensure that you are mindful of what each system can and can’t do.

If you’re looking to measure your global cross-channel impact and sign up for a social-only tool, clearly it won’t fulfill your needs. Equally, if you have an upcoming campaign and need to look at real-time social results to support tactical changes while the campaign is live, a human-led solution may not provide the necessary speed.

Here are my top three tips to help you along the way:

1. AI is Not a Threat, it's an Opportunity 

Automation plays a huge role in our industry and has done so for many years. However, there appears to be increased skepticism towards automation which is based on artificial intelligence. Algorithms that "aren’t working" and inaccurate sentiment analysis are frequently highlighted and criticized. There is significant discussion regarding the drawbacks and limitations of replacing human intelligence but often little focus on how automation has helped us do our jobs more efficiently. The solution must be to leverage hybrid models made up of both software and service.

2. Define What Good Looks Like

There is so much data out there that it can be tricky to see the forest for the trees. Don’t be overwhelmed — this is a good thing. What’s important is to focus in on what matters to your organization. What is it you are trying to achieve and how does that translate into metrics? Once you have defined this, make sure you track results closely and most importantly, study trends over time. Where are you now, where do you want to be and how are you going to get there? As you gather more information, the data will become more insightful and tell a story, it’s the movement that counts.

3. Be Prepared to Regularly Change Gears 

A good measurement program is one that continuously adapts. What works on a "normal" day is unlikely going to work on a day you find yourself in a media crisis. If you’re working with a partner, make sure you define a contingency plan ahead of time by pre-allocating budget and resources. This way you won’t get caught out and can instantly scale up. Scaling up could mean increased human analyzed content, more regular reporting or a plan on how to engage with those driving your critical media image. Once things calm down, you can hit the reset button and return to your regular settings.

Integrated PR and Marketing to Demonstrate Success

Traditionally, PR and marketing are siloed and clearly defined functions. However, because of the way brands are adopting social media platforms, the lines between PR and marketing have blurred. Ownership of social media can sit in both marketing and communications teams, depending on the organization. And it can comfortably sit within both because shared interactions really are earned and earned media is now viewed as the most authentic form of marketing.

In the last couple of years, we’ve really seen a break in trust and confidence following Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, fake news and the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. It’s a challenging road ahead for those who work on reputation and image.

According to Cision’s State of the Media report, 56 percent of journalists say fake news accusations are causing audiences to become more skeptical about the content they produce.

This break in trust, combined with the fact that we live in an age of influence, means that advice from friends and family increasingly shapes our opinions and drives our purchasing decisions. As a result, there is no better time to look to trusted third-party endorsement to amplify your brand. Partner with subject matter experts, build relationships with influencers and make thought leaders part of your content strategy. You can create new revenue streams via inspiring content from credible experts that become your brand stewards and ambassadors.

With the help of technology, it is now possible to identify audiences that are consuming your content and, more importantly, what behavior follows that consumption. By tracking the customer journey, we can measure the success of not only individual campaigns but also individual pieces of content.

If we now think back to the traditional roles of marketing (focused on promoting and selling) and PR (focused on maintaining a positive reputation), it’s clear that an integrated approach is the way forward, one in which both functions have a way of measuring their combined success, utilizing innovative as well as tried and tested research methods. 

Tags : measurement

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About Nadin Vernon

Nadin Vernon has over 20 years’ experience in the communication and research industry, providing analytics and insights counsel to global accounts. She joined PRIME Research as Strategy Consultant in 2017 and co-leads its UK operation in Oxford. Prior to joining PRIME, Nadin served as VP Client Services at CARMA and its predecessor companies Salience Insight and Report International. Her expertise covers the full customer journey from setting up integrated programmes to measuring impact. Nadin was elected Vice Chair of AMEC’s European Chapter in 2017 and promotes elevating the role of research in communication via thought leadership activities. You can engage with Nadin on Twitter @nadinvernon.