TYSONS, Va., Dec. 2, 2022 /PRNewswire — Leading communications, analytics, and insights agency PublicRelay announced the formation of an all-new Strategic Advisory Board. These renowned executives are respected worldwide for their communications savvy and strategic brand thinking. Their input will advance PublicRelay’s strategy to solve the toughest analytical challenges facing CCOs.
The new Strategic Advisory Board includes:
Charlene Wheeless: A speaker, advisor, and author with decades of experience in communications, including leadership roles at Bechtel and Raytheon, Charlene was Chair of the Page Society and is one of Marshall Goldsmith’s 100 Coaches. Her accolades include five years on PRWeek’s Global Power Book and The Betsy Plank Mentoring Award.
Jon Iwata: Leader of the Yale Program on Stakeholder Innovation and Founding Executive Director of the Data & Trust Alliance, Jon led IBM’s global brand, marketing, communications, and citizenship over 35 years. An inductee of the Page Society Hall of Fame and the CMO Club Hall of Fame, he was named a Brand Genius by Adweek.
Aedhmar Hynes: An experienced Board Director advising the IP Group plc, Jackson Family Wines, and Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, Aedhmar advised leading brands, including Adobe, Cisco, and IBM as CEO of Text100. She was Chair of the Page Society, a PRWeek Hall of Fame inductee, and recipient of The Plank Center Mentoring Award and Page Distinguished Service Award.
Tom Martin: Executive-in-Residence at the College of Charleston, he leads the Martin Scholars program for mentoring. Tom was President of the Page Society, founder of Page Up, and a leader at ITT and FedEx. His accolades include The Plank Center Mentoring Legacy Award, Page Distinguished Service Award, and induction into PR News Hall of Fame.
“We are honored to have this group of respected brand leaders advising us as we continue to innovate,” said PublicRelay CEO Eric Koefoot. “Each of these leaders brings a powerful set of experiences and deep strategic thinking that will drive value for our clients – the world’s leading CCOs.”
PublicRelay delivers quality analytics, insights, and advice that increase the value, influence, and impact of communicators. PublicRelay’s unique human-augmented technology helps prove communications’ impact on business goals, predict media outcomes, and guide future strategy. Known for exceptional partnership with clients, PublicRelay elevates communications data and insights to the standards of today’s C-suite leaders.
TYSONS, Va., Dec. 2, 2022 /PRNewswire — PublicRelay, the leading agency for communications analytics and insights, announced the addition of Travis Day as its Chief Revenue Officer. In this newly created role, he will be responsible for expanding PublicRelay’s reach among the world’s leading brands by helping CCOs enhance their analytical capabilities, achieve brand aspirations, and tie their work to overall business goals.
Travis brings more than a decade of experience helping companies develop their research and analytics capabilities. Joining Qualtrics during its early days, Travis was instrumental in growing the company and its Research Services division into an industry-leading insights provider.
Across his career, Travis has been responsible for bringing in more than $250 million in revenue, scaling the teams he led from $4 million per year to over $100 million per year, and taking a sales team from 5 to over 100 employees. Throughout that time, he has never missed an annual sales target and has won numerous accolades as a sales leader and people manager.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the PublicRelay team and am committed to doing all I can to help take this company to new levels of success,” Day stated. “PublicRelay’s unique human-augmented technology approach puts it in an ideal position to be the leader in analytics and insights for communicators at the world’s leading brands.”
“Travis is an exceptional addition to the executive team at PublicRelay and will significantly expand our ability to grow and deliver innovative solutions for brand leaders at complex organizations,” added Eric Koefoot, CEO of PublicRelay. “He has a stellar record of success and I’m confident that he will help us scale quickly while we continue to deliver greater value to clients.”
An alumnus of Brigham Young University, Travis lives near Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three young boys.
PublicRelay delivers quality analytics, insights, and advice that increase the value, influence, and impact of communicators in their organizations. PublicRelay’s unique human-augmented technology delivers data and insights that prove communications’ impact on business goals, predict media outcomes, and guide future strategy. Known for exceptional partnerships with clients, PublicRelay elevates communications data and insights to the standards of today’s C-suite leaders.
Actionable Insights to Elevate Your Communications:
Benchmark analysis from PublicRelay.
PublicRelay hosted a live webinar with our SVP of Analytics, Ted Ziemer, and Director of Analytics, Azhar Unwala, to discuss key insights that emerged in the communications landscape of 2022. As your trusted advisor, we want to share actionable insights to help you guide your brand strategy.
Most media analysis relies on automation, but we’ve found that including a human element can provide insights that truly impact your business. We created this exclusive, virtual opportunity to share the results of our communications landscape report that highlights what a human-augmented technology approach can achieve.
By registering for our event, you will learn best practices of top-performing companies so you can elevate your communications strategy and benchmark your brand’s performance against the best in the industry.
- How using your CEO as a spokesperson can make an impact on corporate reputation
- How to tailor your communications strategy to take advantage of the topics your audience cares about while protecting your brand against harmful media coverage
- How best to engage with major stories that shaped the communications landscape of 2022, like inflation, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the Russia-Ukraine war
Employer brand – your company’s reputation as a place to work – goes beyond impacting recruitment efforts. It’s an essential facet of your overall corporate reputation and can even influence consumers’ purchasing decisions.
You may think a satisfied workforce translates into a strong workplace reputation, but employee experience and employer brand aren’t always aligned. And that disconnect can come down to your communications.
However, employee brand ambassadors can help bridge the gap.
Engaging your employees as brand ambassadors can be one of the most powerful methods for improving public perceptions of your company’s workplace culture and managing your reputation.
What is an Employee Brand Ambassador?
A brand ambassador is an employee who promotes a company’s employer brand to their personal networks, usually via social media. As a prerequisite, they often have substantial social followings and online conduct that aligns with the brand’s values.
Traditionally, brand ambassadors were “influencers” – usually celebrities or individuals with significant name recognition – unaffiliated with the company they were paid to endorse (think Kiera Knightley and Chanel).
But rather than using prominent figures as they do for product endorsements, companies often turn to employees to advocate on behalf of their workplace culture.
Why Recruit Employees as Advocates?
Communications teams should recruit employees as advocates because audiences view employees as authentic and trustworthy sources of insight into their company’s mission, values, and ethics.
Stephanie Genin, Global Vice President of Enterprise Marketing at Hootsuite, explains that “brands are seeing value in influencer marketing because consumers are more influenced by an authentic, human communication than by corporate jargon.”
Not only does the public have more trust in perceived “normal” people, but the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer found that 53% of all global audiences view employees as the most credible source of information when forming an opinion of a company. Another 78% agreed that “how a company treats its employees is one of the best indicators of its level of trustworthiness.”
In other words, employees are one of your most valuable resources for managing your workplace reputation.
Create an Employee Brand Ambassador Program
Consider engaging employees as brand ambassadors an element of your internal communications strategy.
And by launching an employee brand ambassador program, you can more effectively mobilize employee advocates to deliver the key messages that support your communications objectives.
Here are three ways to build a program optimized for impact:
Assess Your Employer Brand
Implementing an employee brand ambassador program is an opportunity to evaluate and understand your existing employer brand.
You must assess two aspects of your employer brand: employee experience and workplace reputation.
Research your company’s employee experience on employee review sites like Glassdoor and social media platforms. For real-time feedback and suggestions for improvement, you can hold focus groups or conduct an employee feedback survey to assess your existing workplace culture.
Suppose it becomes evident your employees are unsatisfied with your company as an employer. This may be the place to start – by fostering a positive workplace environment and recognizing employee achievements – before recruiting ambassadors.
Alternatively, if your research indicates your company has successfully established a positive workplace culture, you can utilize this data to pinpoint your company’s strengths and identify themes for your ambassadors to highlight.
To evaluate your external workplace reputation, you can use reputation polls or corporate reputation rankings to gain insight into public perceptions of your company as a place to work.
You can also use media analytics for a nuanced understanding of how the media covers your brand on various workplace reputational drivers that shape public opinions of your company culture.
Analyzing the data on your company’s workplace reputation against its employee experience will reveal any misalignment between the two and the workplace topics that could benefit most from your employee endorsements.
The value of employee endorsements resides in their personal experiences with the company and their willingness to advocate on behalf of the brand. Accordingly, enlisting brand ambassadors on a volunteer basis is crucial to the authenticity at the crux of their support.
Not only do audiences view employees as more trustworthy sources of information on a brand, but an authentic employee endorsement of your company as a workplace is one of the most impactful methods of verifying and reinforcing your desired employer reputation.
Ramp up your internal communications and provide your team with frequent updates on company news and employee achievements, along with tools to simplify social sharing.
Encourage employees to take ownership of personal and company accomplishments by highlighting their role in successes and output. When employees are invested in their work and recognized for their performance, they will be more inclined to share positive company news with their social networks.
Take Control of Your Workplace Reputation
Engaging your employees as a part of your communications strategy will make your workplace messages more credible and ultimately improve public perceptions of your company culture.
At PublicRelay, we measure your workplace reputation as it’s represented in media coverage and on employee review sites, including Glassdoor and Indeed. With this insight, you can better understand your current reputation and benchmark your performance and the impact of your employee ambassador program in influencing your public perceptions of your brand. Start improving your workplace reputation now!
Once the public relations landscape is understood and your communications objectives are specified, the strategy development process begins. Of fundamental importance, stakeholder segmentation and media prioritization set the stage for strategy development (for both internal and external audiences). Once one understands the audience and the media to which they read, watch, and listen, the next step is to determine the messages to deliver.
Message engineering research helps pinpoint which messages perform best in terms of being compelling to the audience and credible coming from your organization. The result is stakeholder-centric communication that lays the groundwork for purposeful strategy and the tactics that bring the strategy to life. Unlike tactics, strategies remain in place over time and must support a variety of tactical bursts of activity to drive results. As such, research helps to inform the messaging and targeting approaches that are most likely to survive short-term market shifts to deliver positive and sustainable results.
Prioritizing Stakeholders and Targeting Media
Assumptions, intuition, and experience are not enough to make strategic decisions. Research, analysis, and evaluation must be conducted about stakeholders, including the media, to truly understand who they are and what messages will resonate.
It is vital to place significant focus on foundational research to discover which media perform best in terms of target stakeholder reach and penetration. To clarify, “reach” equals “circulation and audience.” “Penetration” means the “percentage of target stakeholders reached through an individual media outlet.” The media targeting process should involve some form of foundational research, which may include the following:
- Demographic/firmographic data available directly through attribution technology or indirectly through third-party data providers of media demographics.
- A survey to uncover the stakeholder’s awareness, attitudes, and behavior toward an individual medium as well as their media consumption preferences. These stakeholder attributes are further validated through a content analysis of news and social media.
- Social media analysis to profile stakeholders by their comments, how they self-identify, and the content they hyperlink through social sharing.
In addition to identifying the media with the highest potential, strategy research also reveals the relative authority and receptivity of journalists and influencers whose content appears in the media (traditional and social).
Using Media Analysis to Inform Your Communications Strategy
Professional communicators must find a balance among the media to identify just those which are:
- Important and engaging to the target stakeholder
- Most likely to cover news about your organization
- Least likely to cover competitors’ news
While an analysis of demographics and firmographics will tell which sources deliver the highest penetration among actual and potential customers, it will not indicate which media are more likely or less likely to cover a particular theme. However, a media analysis will tell which media are more receptive to the themes that matter most to you and your stakeholders. With this, content analysts can quantify the presence of intended and unintended messages, capture any reporting tendencies, and reveal a roadmap toward better results. This combination (the demographic audit and the media analysis) will reveal which media are considered the most credible, which match the often-subtle interests of the stakeholder, and which compel the highest levels of engagement among the targeted stakeholders. Combining media demographics and surveys with media analysis creates a basis for action and a foundation for success.
Positioning or messaging is not a purely creative endeavor; research-based “message engineering” is an example of how science and creativity come together to result in more effective public relations. The science behind public relations enhances the creative process and helps illuminate the most compelling and credible messages. Message engineering is a data-informed stakeholder-driven process of developing a brand, an issue, or corporate positioning. When developing an optimal messaging strategy, research helps the communicator to:
- Understand what motivates the target to act
- Determine the degree to which the proposition can be made credibly by the organization and match the target stakeholder’s priorities and reality
- Evaluate how the competition or opposition performs against the same criteria
- Consider aspects of the messaging that hold the potential to be misinterpreted, hijacked, or somehow otherwise detrimental from certain perspectives
When one combines message engineering with media optimization, one reaches the intended audience in the best possible way.
Why Develop a Data-Driven Communications Strategy?
There are six reasons for establishing data-driven strategies:
- The data-based strategy development process enables more efficient tactical planning and execution.
- By putting stakeholders first, the strategy focuses resources on the objective rather than conventional wisdom, pure creativity, or vanity.
- It mitigates risk by pre-testing strategy before execution.
- It allows for a sustainable strategy.
- It provides a common language to gain alignment in advance among executives who sponsor or evaluate corporate communications performance.
- It creates alignment with peers across the enterprise and within the function, enabling the communications department to prosper.
Communications Strategy Development Methods
Methods of developing data-driven communications strategies include:
- Quantitative research (surveys) and qualitative research (focus groups) to uncover insights about the media consumption preferences of stakeholders and the messages most likely to resonate.
- Analysis of news outlets’ published articles and social media channels to determine what topics they cover and how they cover them.
- Media demographic audit to determine which media deliver the highest penetration among actual and potential customers, employees, and other targets.
- Social listening – in the form of a digital focus group or media analysis — to uncover insight into stakeholder interests, preferences, and behavior.
- Analysis of journalists and influencers to identify target intermediaries to deliver key messages to key audiences.
- Competitor analysis to gauge which strategies appear to be most effective among shared stakeholders.
- PR attribution analysis to identify which digital media and messages are most likely to drive click-through to the website and to track how people engage with the site (e.g., the pages they visit and the information they download).
Example: How a Data-Driven Communications Strategy Leads to the Right Messaging
A company is set to launch a new product to drive revenue for the company’s second-half financials. Thanks to the communications team’s social listening tools and traditional media analysis, the team can see security concerns are being raised around topics related to their new product. These insights are considered and alter how the product is communicated before launch, and a security focus is dialed up as part of the product benefits. Ahead-of-launch messaging is updated, and product benefits are re-ranked to highlight security. The communications team can report its role as part of the business outcome through predictive listening.
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Mark Weiner is the Chief Insights Officer for PublicRelay and the author of “PR Technology, Data and Insights: Igniting a Positive Return on Your Communications Investment.”
Excerpt from “The Communicator’s Guide to Research, Analysis, and Evaluation,” originally published by the Institute for Public Relations in March 2021.
Editor’s Note: Interested in learning how you can demonstrate the value of your work? Read our guide to PR attribution!
In every business case, there is an objective: it might include generating a profit, attracting and retaining top talent, or giving back to a community. In every case, the goal is to build and reinforce relationships, reputation, and organizational performance. To advance an organization, professional communicators must clearly understand its aims to help the organization achieve its business objectives. While each component of the research-based public relations continuum is integral to achieving positive results, the initial stage of objectives-setting research is the most important. Yet, it is also the most frequently overlooked. Setting objectives is the foundation for the entire public relations program on which strategy, execution, and evaluation are formed. Setting and then exceeding objectives that are meaningful, reasonable, and measurable support the communicator’s ability to demonstrate the value of public relations and provide forward-looking insights.
Writing Meaningful, Reasonable, and Measurable Objectives
The difference between a goal and an objective is that goals are relatively vague but represent an overall outcome the public relations professional wants to achieve. They should align with the business goals and reflect the broad aspirations of the organization and often appear in the form of “vision statements” and “statements of purpose.” On the other hand, objectives are measurable and focused, serving as a guide and allowing professionals and others to see how and when they have been met or exceeded. To elevate public relations, one must generate and demonstrate a positive return. While demonstrating the value of public relations is among the profession’s most vexing challenges, the best path is also the most direct: work with executives who control the budget and evaluate performance to set objectives that are meaningful, reasonable, and measurable.
- Meaningful objectives align with organizational goals and the priorities and preferences of executives in charge of evaluating and/or funding public relations.
- Reasonable objectives are openly negotiated with the executives who evaluate and fund public relations programs and confirm what the public relations function can realistically be expected to deliver.
- Measurable objectives ensure that communications performance can be easily quantified regardless of whether the person evaluating performance understands public relations or not. Measurable objectives specify:
- What should be achieved (e.g., “to increase awareness of our socially responsible investment funds”)
- The target stakeholder (e.g., “female millennials”)
- The time frame (e.g., “from June to August”)
- The desired measurable change (e.g., “raise awareness by 7%”)
Objectives should follow the SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) format, which allows for the creation of strategies and tactics that clearly align with each objective and the ability to later demonstrate a return on expectations.
Unlike indeterminate objectives like “generate buzz,” “break through the media clutter,” and so on, the objective is specific and clear, such as: “to increase awareness of our socially responsible investment funds by 7% among female millennials from June to August.”
Why Set Objectives?
Research takes the emotion out of objective setting. There are six reasons for setting clear, concise, and pre-negotiated public relations objectives:
- Create a structure for prioritizing action among members of the communications team.
- Allow the team to stay focused and circle back to the objectives to ensure the strategies and tactics support achieving (and hopefully exceeding) the objective.
- Reduce the potential for disputes before, during, and after the program.
- Increase efficiency by concentrating resources where they will make a difference, thereby reducing waste.
- Help to form successful programs by focusing attention and action on those criteria by which the program will later be evaluated.
- Set the stage for evaluation by enabling public relations investment decision-makers to determine if the public relations program delivered on its promise.
Objective-Setting Research Methodologies
Research methods to inform objectives may include:
- Data or information gathered from conducting a public relations landscape analysis (i.e., market research, traditional media analysis, social media analysis, web analytics, and digital media attribution) to inform objective setting.
- Primary research (research conducted by the organization, such as surveys or focus groups with internal or external stakeholders) or secondary research (research that has already been conducted by the organization or another entity) that validates the problem or opportunity the objective seeks to address.
- Internal research to ensure that PR objectives align with overall organizational goals as determined through a review of the enterprise’s mission statement and publicly stated priorities.
- Leveraging prior company data as a baseline that objectives will be measured against.
Defining Metrics and Key Performance Indicators
When setting objectives, it is important to define metrics and indicators that communicate success.
For instance, the example objective above seeks to “raise awareness of our socially responsible investment funds.” To one person, raising awareness might mean securing media placements about the investment funds. To another, it might mean surveying the intended target stakeholder (female millennials) to gauge if they are aware of the investment funds. Having a clear definition of the desired key performance indicators and how they will be measured helps to determine later the success of your efforts to meet or beat the objectives. Regardless, the metrics should be valid, meaning that they must actually measure what they are supposed to measure. For example, some may use impressions to measure awareness, which is not a valid metric for measuring awareness.
Differentiating Between Outputs, Outtakes, and Outcomes
When writing measurable objectives, it is important to recognize the difference between measuring outputs, outtakes, and outcomes. Ultimately, all are reflected in your objectives since they are interrelated.
The number of communications deliverables the organization produces by using and resulting from a communications process; the number distributed and/or the number reaching a targeted stakeholder.
Example of an Output
How many internal messages did the organization send on a particular issue?
Outputs are a measure of production and distribution. They are focused more on what the organization does rather than how the program affects the attitude or behavior of the intended audience. Other important metrics include outtakes and outcomes, especially behavioral measures as communicators ultimately seek to ignite behavioral change.
Example Metrics Used to Measure Outputs
- Number of tactics, events, and materials produced, sent, or distributed (i.e., newsletters, brochures)
- Traditional and social media coverage, Share of voice Circulation/audience/reach
- Tone of coverage, intended and unintended message pull-through
Measurement and analysis of how stakeholders respond to programs, initiatives, campaigns, and content are foundational for optimizing and highlighting the value of public relations investments. Although many communications KPIs are more perceptual in nature (e.g., brand, reputation), outtakes are a key underpinning as they are clear and tangible (e.g., view, open, read, share, download, etc.). In this way, “outtakes” may be considered “short-term outcomes.” What did they take away from the communications program?
Example of an Outtake
The degree to which a stakeholder “received the message” is measured in terms of awareness, recall, understanding, and retention.
Example Metrics Used to Measure Outtakes
- Likes and retweets
- Engagement (i.e., comments, shares)
- Recall, awareness, understanding, and retention
- Web analytics (i.e., unique visitors, bounce rate, downloads, click-throughs)
- Open rate ratings/testimonials
This is the ultimate goal and related KPIs to which leading senior communicators aspire. Outcomes are more macro and often more perceptual in nature. These often include a quantifiable change in awareness, knowledge, attitude, opinion, brand/reputation equity, and/or behavior levels that occur as a result of public relations programs, initiatives, or campaigns. Outcomes result in an effect, consequence, or impact of a set or program of communications activities or products and may be either short-term – even immediate – or long-term.
Example of an Outcome
Outcomes represent what’s on the minds of stakeholders, including awareness, preference, and purchase intention, for example.
Organizations should also think about the impact of a program on business outcomes, such as: How did the PR program affect people’s attitudes toward the company or its product because of public relations actions taken or tactics deployed? To what degree did PR contribute to attracting and retaining talent? How did PR improve the organization’s ESG investment rating?
Example Metrics Used to Measure Outcomes
- Products/service preference
- Customer purchase/acquisition and retention
- Employee acquisition and retention
- Advocacy (e.g., Net Promoter Score (NPS))
- Brand equity
- Brand valuation
- Other behavioral changes (e.g., donate, vote, partner, policy change)
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Mark Weiner is the Chief Insights Officer for PublicRelay and the author of “PR Technology, Data and Insights: Igniting a Positive Return on Your Communications Investment.”
Excerpt from “The Communicator’s Guide to Research, Analysis, and Evaluation,” originally published by the IPR in March 2021.
Editor’s Note: Interested in learning how you can demonstrate the value of your work? Read our guide to PR attribution!