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Going Beyond the Data: Demonstrating Value through Public Relations Measurement

By Carly Owens

I love data and numbers.

That’s not normally a declaration you hear public relations professionals make, but because I’ve seen what a powerful tool data can be for our profession, I will shout it from the rooftops.

Data fuels public relations measurement, which can sometimes be an afterthought in our industry, but it shouldn’t be. Rather than an activity that is seen as a box waiting to be checked weekly or monthly, measurement should be treated as part of a PR professional’s strategic skillset, because ultimately, it can be used to inform strategy, identify new opportunities, and demonstrate value and impact.

All that from some data points?

It can sound too good to be true, but not only is it possible—I often see it in action.

I walked some of our members through this during a recent webinar and gave examples of how to leverage data points that go beyond the traditional metrics, like impressions, and how to paint a picture that demonstrates impact, and equips you with insights to share with your stakeholders. Below are a few takeaways.

Know what coverage matters most to your brand.

Have you ever looked at your strongest wins to see what commonalities they have? What was it that made it impactful? Some examples could be a thought leader was quoted, or your brand was mentioned multiple times. When your team identifies this, it helps ensure that you’re focused on securing the coverage that brings the most value to your organization.

Always go beyond the data.

Data is the foundation of the any measurement report, but you need to build upon it. Simply stating on a slide that there were 25 articles in a month doesn’t necessarily tell you much, but when you pair it with trending data, this gives a clearer picture of how efforts are performing over time.

Likewise, if you’re looking at tone, dive into the coverage and see if you can identify some opportunities to turn a neutral story into a positive one in the future. If your brand was mentioned passively in an article, use it as an opportunity to proactively engage the journalist and build a relationship. Once a relationship is established, you can actively engage the journalist for positive coverage in the future.

Ultimately, all your metrics should be presented with some context that helps demonstrate what it means to your strategy and brand.

Keep your audience in mind.

When compiling reports, keep your audience in mind. If it’s going to a leadership team outside the communications department, keep it high level and concise. Include the data points, along with your top takeaways for the month, competitive insights, campaign updates, etc. Be sure to include why a piece of coverage was a win, whether that’s a link back to your website or a spokesperson’s quote.

When compiling a report for your own communications team, this is where you can go a bit deeper into the data and share insights that inform your future campaigns. Identify what topics are talked about in the media consistently, or what topics seem to fall flat. Consider regular measurement meetings that can be used as a time to share best practices among teammates.

These are a few takeaways, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to measurement. When you’re measuring intentionally and consistently, you’ll be amazed at what trends you can identify and how it will impact your strategy.

Dive into the data, and you won’t be sorry.

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