The Importance of Media Analytics in Public Relations

Media analytics are essential to helping public relations and communications professionals understand how well their current strategies are working and plot the path towards future success. By implementing an analytics solution, your team can more efficiently develop strategies based on data-driven insights to help you achieve your objectives.

According to the PRSA, the purpose of public relations is to forge positive relationships between organizations and their target audiences. These relationships can be developed in multiple ways: by gaining exposure to new audiences, building brand awareness among current audiences, and fostering engagement within less active audiences, to name a few. However, the various methods for building relationships with stakeholders are most effective when PR practitioners use reliable data to inform their strategies.

When explaining the importance of data utilization in the public relations industry, Keyana Corliss, Head of Global Corporate Communications at Databricks, said, “data can be the difference between assuming you’ve made a good decision and having a great data-driven strategy.” Of course, to employ this method, you must first understand what analytics are and how to use them.

What is Media Analytics?

Media analytics are observations and recommendations based on data drawn from media monitoring. Succinctly, media monitoring is the tracking of media output from various outlets and authors to gain a better understanding of a company’s brand and its communications strategies’ effectiveness.

At PublicRelay, we aggregate data collected from various media sources over time to pinpoint trends and outliers that provide key insights. These data points allow us to inform our clients of how well their communications tactics are performing and ways they may adapt their strategies to better reach their objectives.

Integrating Media Analytics into Your Public Relations Strategy

Public relations teams can be best served by incorporating media analytics into their operations strategically. You can apply an analytical lens to your own media data and make the most of the information you collect by keeping a few key principles in mind.

Be Objective-Oriented

While it is always important to keep goals in mind when making PR decisions, analyzing media requires clear, measurable objectives. Without objectives, there is nothing to differentiate a media campaign’s success from its failure. The act of establishing objectives also debunks the myth that PR efforts and outcomes cannot be measured. Further, when presenting PR outcomes in terms of accomplished objectives, PR teams can demonstrate the merit of their work, as well as prove the value of their allocated budget.

Setting objectives can look very different from one organization to another: a consumer-focused company may want to reposition its brand, while a non-profit organization may seek to raise awareness of a cause it supports. Both objectives are measurable using media analytics. According to Hootesuite, you can establish effective objectives using the S.M.A.R.T. goal framework, which recommends setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. 

Without objectives, your team is at risk of reaching the end of a campaign only to find yourselves overwhelmed by too much information that you struggle to make sense of. Or worse, you may find that you have been tracking the wrong data the whole time and don’t have the necessary information to assess your PR outcomes. 

Big Picture: Observe How Trends Form Over Time

While you may be able to find some noteworthy media mentions if you analyze your media coverage daily, becoming too detail-oriented can pose challenges to PR and communications teams. Without taking a step back to view your data over a longer period of time, you will most likely be faced with information-overload and struggle to identify the most significant coverage.

By allowing trends to develop over time and analyzing your data on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis,

you can see how patterns form and highlight the most noteworthy coverage. High-level reporting helps to cut through the noise and gives clear insights into trends as well as outlier events, putting seemingly important media coverage into perspective. Stepping back to observe the bigger picture not only saves time and energy, but it also produces better results by directing attention toward the most important data points.

Small Picture: Pay Attention to the Details

The details of your media coverage are most important during the set-up stage of your media monitoring program and later on in the analytics process when looking for a sensible narrative of your coverage.

The decisions made about the media coverage your team wants to track – like whether stock reports are relevant, or the factors that make a company mention significant or insignificant; positive or negative – may seem inconsequential and laborious, but these choices will have a big impact on the data you end up with and the story they tell when you analyze your coverage. These details determined during the planning stage will affect the narrative of your media coverage down the road. Thus, it’s important to consider these choices in the beginning when you set up your analytics strategy to minimize future changes and to make long-term observations and period-to-period comparisons more accurate.

After you’ve zoomed out to view the big picture, you can zoom in on the information behind apparent trends. By identifying factors such as authors, outlets, sentiment, and potential impressions, you can validate, explain, or negate what the numbers may appear to be telling you. For instance, a spike in a certain topic on social media may automatically signal to you that many people are discussing your brand. However, further investigation could reveal that the content is coming from one user with very few followers, perhaps even a bot, and the “trend” is not worth mentioning to your executives. In instances such as this, examining the details can help you to identify the information that is important and worth acting upon.

Media Monitoring & Analytics

It is with the perspective of analysis that your media data takes on a comprehensible narrative and becomes a more useful tool than media monitoring alone. While media monitoring can provide up-to-date coverage of all media mentions and in-depth statistical information, going one step further and analyzing this data significantly increases your return on investment. Through analysis, you can organize your data to identify the coverage and trends that are important, as well as the changes you and your team can implement to increase the success of your communications strategies.

Path to Success

A good media analytics program has the ability to both explore the nitty-gritty details and recognize patterns and significant moments within a large data set. The objectives you set to define success at the beginning of your analytics journey will guide the entire process, and a program that recognizes the value of big picture and small picture perspectives will help you to build a comprehensive understanding of your media coverage. With a strong program in place, you can recognize the key data that can provide actionable insights and inform your team’s PR and communications decisions.

At PublicRelay, we offer media monitoring and analytics programs that help our clients to identify relevant media mentions and compile informative and thorough metrics-based reports. Turn your media monitoring into media intelligence now!

ARTICLE AUTHOR
Sarah Kerman

Sarah Kerman

Media Analytics Account Manager
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