Earlier this year, I was a guest on the #DigitalPR Twitter chat in a conversation focused on the use of Big Data by public relations professionals for content success. The first question chat host Sally Falkow asked was whether or not the participants believe Big Data is the future of PR.
Being a PR Engineer, I strongly believe that thoughtful use of data is indeed the future of PR. But in order to avoid data intimidation and data fatigue, PR pros must know how to best leverage this information. Knowledge of how to collect, analyze, and interpret data allows for the identification of key performance indicators based on past successes and failures, rather than subjective suggestions for how to determine success.
So how do you begin using data to ensure content success and make sure you’re working toward the outcomes you want? Here, I share three tips inspired by Nate Silver.
1. Make sure you’re identifying the correct signals.
Many marketers measure results against the KPIs they and their colleagues are used to — such as impressions — and not necessarily against the metrics that truly show successful performance. We get it. Changing your measurement and reporting structures is scary. But making sure you’re tracking the right signals is basically the difference between doing what’s asked of you and doing what works.
AirPR Data Shows: You are likely missing between 75 to 80 percent of the data that shows the result of PR efforts in terms of how potential customers engage on your website after reading press. How? Often articles do not link back to any of your web properties, and if they do, people will still visit your site via search or typing your domain into the address bar half of the time.
2. Separate the signals from the noise.
Once you are measuring the right data, review the results on an ongoing basis, not just at the end of the month or quarter. Adam Singer advises, “…think critically about your measurement plan and remember to consider success for clients, campaigns, and programs up front. And then don’t just measure, have goals and predictions before you begin.” Set benchmarks so that you have a barometer by which to gauge success during ongoing review.
AirPR Data Shows: After working with our customers to identify benchmarks, we consistently see that about 10 to 20 percent of their PR output is responsible for 80 to 90 percent of their business outcomes. The 10 to 20 percent are the signals to look and listen for.
3. Follow the signals to success.
After proving or disproving your predictions of what’s really driving the results you’re seeking, use those performance indicators to inform your strategies and tactics. Too often we inhibit this process from becoming circular by failing to make the final connection that closes the loop. Don’t just separate out the signals so that you can see them clearly, use them as a guide for the evolution of your efforts and embrace the way PR has evolved in recent years so you’re focusing on “…the speedy distribution of content and driving leads to digital real estate.”
AirPR Data Shows: When reviewing a visualization of a subset of our own content marketing strategy, we realized how powerful a connected web of influence can be. Aim for ubiquity in your niche market.
To ensure content success, answer this question posed by Seth Godin on his widely-read blog: “What does it mean to ‘win’? Is maximizing the convenient number actually going to produce the impact and the outcome you wanted?”
Last week, Director of PR Engineering & Ops Leta Soza kicked off our Optimizing PR Fundamentals series with tips for writing press releases that don’t get deleted. Next week, PR Engineer Rachel Kirschen will share how to write emails that your customers will (actually) give a crap about.