For today’s corporations, a commitment to diversity and inclusion isn’t simply the right thing to do – it’s a competitive advantage. Especially when it comes to brand reputation, customer loyalty, and recruitment. In fact, companies ranked in the top quartile for ethical diversity are 35 percent more likely to financially outperform their national industry medians, according to research from McKinsey. Those ranked in the top quartile for gender diversity fare 15 percent better.
From a recruitment perspective, no less than one-third of employees – and nearly one-half of Millennials – consider diversity and inclusion when assessing a new job opportunity, according to research from the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and Weber Shandwick.
Such perspectives also extend to what a company does externally – with its ad campaigns, marketing strategy, public statements, etc. We’ve noticed an uptick in analysis around inclusion of minority groups with our clients in the banking and insurance industries. In the banking sector, diversity is a concept growing in importance, particularly in understanding a key brand driver like workplace environment. In insurance, more industry leaders are launching campaigns to communicate the importance of minority inclusion in their customer base.
But analyzing concepts like diversity in traditional and social media coverage is tricky. The topic may be one of many in a piece about your brand, your mentions may be passing ones in coverage primarily about competitors, you may be actively pitching stories on this topic, or customers may rake you over the coals on social media. Whether it’s reactive or proactive, you still need to know the sentiment about your brand, your executives, your products or your services to understand what to do (or not do) next.
4 Steps for Tracking Perception of Factors Like Your Brand’s Inclusivity
So how do you build a report card that shows whether your brand is perceived as inclusive?
Here are 4 steps to follow if you want to see how your brand scores when it comes to diversity and inclusion or a similar topic:
Are we trying to increase positive SOV in our industry? Earn more positive coverage from authors currently not talking about us? Create more opportunities for our spokespeople to weigh in on the topic?
Any time you are trying to move the needle, you’ll need an accurate baseline from which to work.
Collect accurate data that relates to sentiment around your brand.
You don’t want to miss anything meaningful, but you also don’t need passing mentions or your digital ads in the mix. The most strategic information about how you are doing is often revealed during comparisons against your competitors and peers. This significantly increases the sheer volume of data you need to collect and clean up. In some cases, an outlet list can help you hone in on what content is most important. Is it counts or concrete results from your effort that chart your course?
Correctly categorizing topics and subtopics during this step is how you glean the intelligence from your analysis. This is also the step where humans are essential. The more complex the topics (like hot-button social issues), especially where keywords are nearly non-existent, the more critical it is to correctly identify sentiment. Was that social media post sarcastic? Did the author make positive statements about our brand but negative statements about our peers?
The analysis – time to answer the questions.
Some of these questions should relate back to your goals and progress measuring. Others should help define or re-define strategy. Popular ones that our clients ask include:
- Did we move the needle on the topics we put our efforts toward?
- Are we over-allocating resources on goals we are already crushing?
- Which authors or outlets produce high social sharing?
- What’s the SOV of our spokespeople vs our peers?
- Are there other industry influencers we should be engaging with?
- Where is the whitespace for message expansion? Can we own the conversation in another market segment?
Answering “Now What?”
With accurate answers in hand this is one of the easier ones. It could be as simple as stay the course. In other cases, you may uncover that you need to redirect resources or change course altogether.
Regardless of industry, communicators responsible for topics like diversity must be enabled to build and react to programs with trustworthy media intelligence. Technology with just the right dose of human input delivers the accurate research you need to drive impact when it comes to corporate goals.