Unlocking Hidden Insights in Media Coverage

8 Keys to Driving Measurable Outcomes With Brand Reputation Management

Uncovering the context behind your media coverage is the secret to making a measurable impact on your brand reputation.

When you show insights that move the needle on benchmarks your company cares about — from corporate social responsibility to customer service — you can prove your team’s value to the company’s bottom line in hard numbers. That’s one powerful way a communications professional can become a strategic partner to their business.

To get there, you need more than just good data. You need a critical eye on your media coverage and a plan to follow through on opportunities and challenges.

Follow these best practices to take control of your brand reputation and drive measurable results.

Measure the reputational drivers your company cares about most.

When creating messaging strategies, communicators first need to determine the desired outcome. Based on the macro goals of the business, do you need to increase positive share of voice against competitors, strengthen investor relations, demonstrate thought leadership, or something else? Establishing clear goals allows you to benchmark progress over time and shows when a strategy is working or where changes need to be made. If messaging strategies are data-driven from the start, it’s easy to provide your stakeholders with a clear view of the impact of your efforts.

Once objectives have been defined, it’s important to understand the context behind your coverage to answer these questions:

  • Which messages are getting covered (or not)? Overlay demographic information to uncover people rising in influence who could speak passionately for your brand.
  • What is the tonality for your brand, your peers, and your messages that are getting covered?
  • Is your coverage getting shared on social media and on channels that reach the right audience?
  • How do we respond during a crisis?
  • Are our resources allocated correctly?
  • Are there white space opportunities for new messages?

1. Understand Message Pull Through

You can’t improve your brand reputation without knowing where it stands now. Dive into your data to assess your baseline reputation across all relevant areas, including:

  • CSR (corporate social responsibility)
  • Leadership
  • Workplace culture
  • The quality of your product and service offerings
Deviations from those baselines will alert you when a crisis or opportunity bubbles up, provided you have the right data and the right insights.

Acting on low-quality data won’t help (and can harm) your brand reputation, so quality analysis is one of the best investments your company can make.

2. Measure your competition, too.

Analyze your competitors to measure current share of voice (SOV) using your most important reputational drivers, and identify gaps your organization can fill.

This helps you zoom out to see where you stand within your industry, what the public wants to see more (or less) of from your industry, and what your competitors are doing right and wrong.


3. Look at the context — the why behind the what — of your coverage.

Collecting accurate data from both traditional and social media can be frustrating when brand themes aren’t always tied to your company or product names, and a topic like “brand quality” may never appear in the text.

This is why context is just as important as content. If you read an article that describes your offering as “too expensive for what you get” or “very complicated and hard to use,” you can assume they’re talking about brand quality. Look at the tonality, social sharing, seasonality, authors, outlets, and reach of your coverage to find the underlying sentiment.

Context, Tonality, and Sarcasm

Let’s say you represent a popular video streaming service, and a blogger writes, “This app is so addictive, it’s ruining my social life.” While “ruining my social life” sounds negative, it’s really a ringing endorsement of your content. Sarcasm can be hard to gauge online, so context is everything.

4. Measure and mitigate the impact of potentially damaging coverage.

Crisis and opportunity aren’t always binary. For example, a homeowner might call a utility company to complain about a downed power line (negative story), only to receive excellent, timely customer service (positive story.) A surface reading of the initial coverage might interpret the incident as a net loss — and that inaccurate data could lead to a response that prolongs the problem — while a skilled analyst would seize the opportunity to promote a powerful problem-solving narrative.

Always look at good data before altering or executing a communications plan. Even if your analysis indicates that negative coverage could result in long-term negative impact, knowing the threat ahead of time and having a plan in place gives your team the opportunity to neutralize issues before they spiral out of control.

5. Uncover trends over time.

Reactive tactics for crisis communications and customer service are important, but analyzing your key brand drivers on a regular basis gives your organization a strategic playbook for handling those situations and proactively managing your brand reputation.

Meaningful measurement of your brand drivers over time will also uncover areas that need attention. After all, your PR efforts won’t always deliver the results you expected. Having accurate, complete information can help you adjust course or chart a completely new one.

Questions That Turn Context Into Strategy

  • Do certain outlets and authors cover a theme we care about, but never write favorably about us?
  • Are they only negative towards us on this topic but positive towards others?
  • Which industry experts are most shared or quoted, and on which topics?
  • Which of our influencers can best advocate on our brand’s behalf during times of crisis or opportunity?

6. Understand the interplay of social and traditional media.

You know that your traditional media coverage is shared on social media, but do you know which social channels are a better fit based on topics and themes? If you’re already tracking the themes of your traditional coverage, you can overlay social sharing data to reveal which platform each theme gets shared on most often.

You can use this information to find anomalies in otherwise steady trends. If you see that LinkedIn engagement spikes for a particular article or topic, that’s an opportunity to revise your social strategy to capitalize on those results.

7. Know your supporters and detractors — and who can be swayed.

If your story isn’t being picked up by the outlets you’ve targeted, revisit your data and revise your strategy. When something negative trends on social, don’t fan the flames — it may not be the story you want to go after with a certain person, organization, or media channel.

Use data to identify your allies and your adversaries. Who can you win over with the right messaging, and what sort of messaging would that take?

8. Learn from past efforts to continuously improve your response.

No matter how well or how poorly a media strategy goes, the data you get from it is priceless.

You can learn volumes about your own team and tactics from the speed of your response, results of your actions, the media’s perspective, and the public’s reaction. How has coverage impacted your bottom line, and what could you do differently in the future?

Communications leaders who discover reputational insights hidden within the context of their coverage are earning seats as strategic business partners.

PublicRelay can help you deliver timely and accurate insights that matter.

The PublicRelay Difference

PublicRelay brings the best technology and the best people together to deliver the insights that help you uncover and measure the influencers most likely to move the needle. Here’s how:

  • Fully analyzed results in near real-time
    Our team is responsible for making sure your media analysis is correct — no more valuable time wasted massaging “directionally correct” output. You can take our accurate analysis straight to the Board.
  • Insight into the impact of social sharing on your earned media
    Your Trending Score tells you how traditional and social media coverage interacts so you can be more proactive and strategic — leveraging each channel for maximum impact.
  • Context, not just counts
    Every article is categorized by what matters to you — from brand and reputation concepts, like thought leadership or workplace environment, to which authors are covering your peers but not you (and how to reach them).
  • An extension of your team
    We hire less than 1% of the media analysts that apply, so you get a dedicated, highly educated analyst located in the US that collaborates directly with you and your team.