We consider it one of our missions to help strip away the fear PR and communications strategists feel when their executives or clients ask for proof that what they’re doing is working. The PR metrics and PR data that are available to us today can help us do just that, but dealing with analytics is still a little scary to a lot of communicators.
Why is this the case? Well, we suspect that measurement and PR data can elicit fear because: (a) not every PR pro loves working with numbers, and (b) PR pros could discover that their PR work isn’t really helping their companies achieve the quantifiable business goals they’re after.
So today, we’re sharing the top takeaways from a fireside chat focused on PR metrics and the “d” word: data! Led by Gini Dietrich, PR influencer, CEO of Arment Dietrich, and queen of the popular PR blog Spin Sucks, and joined by our own CSO, Rebekah Iliff, this video interview showcases four tactics PR professionals can employ to become more data-driven and measurement-friendly, regardless of their fears.
Watch the full fireside chat or read the top takeaways from Dietrich and Iliff below.
1. Being a good communicator doesn’t mean you can’t be data-driven.
“We often hear that PR people went into communications because they’re not good at math,” said Dietrich. “Because you’re a good communicator doesn’t mean you can’t be data driven.”
“If you want to be a good communicator, you should want to look at the data so you can enable yourself to do your job better,” said Iliff. “It doesn’t mean that, all of a sudden, you’re going to be automating critical thinking, discernment, good judgement, or relationships. It just means figuring out if the things you’re doing and spending an extraordinary amount of time on are working.” If they’re not, the data showing what’s not working arms you with intel that can help you make better decisions moving forward. All data, whether it “makes you look good” initially or not, is valuable!
2. Critical thinking paired with iterative analysis of PR data can help build trust between you and your executives or clients.
“It’s hard for PR people to build trust with clients and CEOs,” said Iliff. “But over time, as you prove yourself to be a knowledgeable, critical thinker and get some wins under your belt, your CMO or CEO is more likely to say, ‘You’ve been right five out of seven times and I’m not going to question what you’re doing.’”
Build that trust over time by showing that you’re studying PR data/results and thinking critically about the PR strategy you have a play. You weren’t hired to be a yes-person; your company or client hired you to think critically and iteratively evolve your PR strategy based on observed wins and fails.
If articles in publication X consistently fail to drive demo sign-ups, and demo sign-ups is one of your goals, the data-driven PR professional knows that it’s smart to put their eggs elsewhere (…in another basket).
3. Consider the size of your company when deciding how to measure PR effectiveness and whether or not you’re in need of a SaaS tool for PR attribution.
“If you have between 20 to 30 pieces of media publishing every month, you really need a PR attribution model,” said Iliff, referring to having a system in place for tracking all company mentions in earned and owned media. “If you have less than that, you might be able to get away with correlating website traffic spikes with press using Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics and cobbling together reports . . . There is a point at which (PR attribution) really matters and for some super-small companies, it may not be as relevant. But when you’re spending $10-20K a month on a PR agency, you should know what it’s doing for the business.”
If you’re producing significant amounts of owned media (blog content, thought leadership articles, etc.) and earned media (journalist-driven editorial), understanding what behavior that content is driving is incredibly important. Get to the bottom of it with proper PR attribution.
[AirPR offers PR attribution solutions. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.]
4. When selecting the PR metrics you’ll be using to quantify success, decide whether you care about quality or quantity.
The easy (and, we’d argue, correct) answer is that you should care about quality — quality of brand-produced, journalist-created, and user-generated content.
“Number of impressions is just a number and doesn’t tell you anything about how to do your job better,” said Iliff. “If you care about quantity, we can continue to spam journalist and send press releases out over the wire, report on impressions and AVE, and call it a day. However, if you want to understand how people interpret your business and what kinds of content are driving people to take some kind of action on your website, consider PR the powerful lead generating tool that it is. When you report on quality, you can show that X drives Y, so let’s do Z next time around.”
Gini Dietrich, @ginidietrich | Arment Dietrich