It's amazing how a big-budget Hollywood movie can put a controversial issue in the public eye. Google Trends, a tool from Google Labs, can make information like this easy to track.
Marilynn Mobley, SVP, Edelman Atlanta, uses this illustration to show how trends in media coverage and Google searches can shed light on how a client's profile is faring online.
"Put in the terms 'blood diamonds' and 'conflict diamonds' and you'll see little to no online searches of those terms until late in 2005," Mobley reports. After that date, the buzz starts to build and media coverage increases. It spikes during Q4 2006.
"This shows a clear influence of how a movie can impact subjects being covered by the media," she adds. "[Blood Diamond], released in December 2006, resulted in more consumer conversations, which drew more media coverage."
PR pros say they are increasingly using Google Trends in their everyday work.
"I use Google Trends and love it," says Kipp Bodnar, an SAE at MMI Marketing in Raleigh, NC. "I think it has a lot of validity to a PR pro, especially when it comes to planning and also targeting the right online PR campaigns."
Finding the smartest keywords improves a campaign, says Stephanie Stadler, an account supervisor at the SheaHedges Group in Virginia. She uses Google Trends regularly to see what resonates with target audiences.
Amanda Setili, principal of Setili & Associates, a consulting firm with clients including The Home Depot, is another who finds Google Trends useful.
"Google Trends is a great way to see which stories and issues are being searched on and where," she says. "I use it to see which client and competitor news items are getting the most public attention."
Although a handy tool, Google Trends is by no means the only service out there, says Karyn Martin, an AE at Emerge PR.
"No matter what you're doing for your measurement, you're always supplementing it," she says.
Google Trends gives a quick overview of how often a topic has been searched in a certain time frame
It can be used to gauge internal PR's effects as well as media reach
Google Trends should be used in conjunction with other measurement tactics