Case Study: Communicating Effectively to Multiple Audiences with Diverse Interests

Challenge: Communicating Effectively to Multiple Stakeholders

At a publicly traded utility company where most employees are engineers, financial analysts, and lawyers, there is added pressure for public relations professionals to concretely prove the value of what has previously been considered by many as a “soft profession.”

However, reporting on communications initiatives is extremely difficult when a team must keep track of and communicate with a variety of stakeholders with diverse interests. It is essential for communicators to address the concerns of all interested parties, including investors, regulators, customers, and executives. To do so effectively, they must stay ahead of media coverage as much as possible to influence Wall Street analysts’ recommendations, customers’ brand perception, and manage executives’ expectations.

Solution: Comprehensive Media Analysis in Near Real Time

A leading electric utility company wanted to adopt a data-driven communications strategy to improve the effectiveness of their messaging and measure their contribution to overall business goals. When a new SVP of Communications came aboard, he recognized the value in the strategy that his team wanted to implement and provided them with a hybrid media analysis solution that utilizes top of the line technology and human analysis. The solution gives the team accurate data and insights in near real time from traditional, broadcast, and social media that they use to drive messaging strategy as well as manage potential crises.

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Result: Proactive Media Outreach

Positive public perception of the overall brand and corporate leadership are essential to the client because they are a publicly traded company with a guaranteed geographic territory. Daily media coverage in national and trade publications influences investor relations while local outlets influence customer opinion. This wide array of outlets adds a complex layer to the team’s strategy and it is vital that they ensure their brand messaging is present in coverage from all of them as it has a direct impact on corporate success.

The team uses data in every staff meeting to answer questions like, “How can we capitalize on this trending topic?” or “How can we course correct our strategy on this topic?” They use historical data to identify which authors and outlets typically write favorably about their company or the topics they care about so that they can build relationships with those authors and push their key messaging to the right audiences in both local and national media. This boosts reputation drivers, strengthening the company’s brand and contributing to overall business goals.

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Result: Crisis Management and Prevention

When one tweet can turn into a full-blown crisis, comprehensive social, traditional, and broadcast media monitoring is essential and ensures the team never misses an important mention. Since customers now take to Twitter and Facebook to voice their complaints, the team uses near real time social media data to identify potential crises and address them as fast as possible.

They also rely on PublicRelay’s proprietary trending score to recognize when traditional coverage could become a crisis. Trending Scores are assigned to articles receiving shares on social media and indicate whether the sharing volume, channel relevance and significance are above or below their average. If a negative story is trending upward, the team strategizes and responds before the situation gets out of hand.

The client’s analyst often alerts the team to coverage spikes and trends as they occur. The team uses special reports on trending topics to combat critical coverage and inform crisis messaging. They then use historical data to determine which authors to push this messaging to in order to disseminate information as efficiently as possible.

The team’s focus on author influencing proved valuable when there was a safety concern at the company’s nuclear power plant. While this story could have easily spun out of control into a crisis situation, a journalist with whom the team had a good relationship covered the incident. The author reported fairly, accurately, and ultimately in favor of how the company handled the situation.

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Result: Reliable Executive Reporting

Communicators know all too well that executives remember one bad story far longer than any amount of positive coverage. Quarterly and ad hoc reports ensure executives have an accurate view of their brand’s public perception from all interested parties- from Wall Street analysts to rural customers. These reports put negative coverage in context for executives. When the team shows at least four positive stories for every negative one, the negative coverage no longer seems as important. In Q3 2017, the team showed execs that positive key messaging was present in 66% of all coverage, supporting their strategy and demonstrating contribution to corporate success.

Analytics like these give the Communications team a seat at the table at an organization that places a premium on hard data and concrete outputs.

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