We all use technology to be more productive and intelligent, to streamline, simplify, optimize, and automate. We focus on efficiency and look for any advantage, especially when measuring the success of PR programs and campaigns.
What if that advantage is not in the technology and the data that is displayed in microseconds but instead lies with the individual who is using that information to analyze, interpret, and curate? The individual turns data and information into intelligence that can be used to make more confident and strategic decisions. The convergence of an experienced team and technology produces the insight you and your executive team need rather than the technology alone.
You need more intelligence, not information.
Technology has eased many pain points for corporate communicators, particularly in streamlining workflows and making more efficient processes. There are myriad platforms available that collect and gather information at a fast pace. You can put away the tape and scissors and use a keyword search to find media coverage on any topic in just a few clicks. But how does an electronic data dump make you and your stakeholders smarter and more strategic?
There is a difference between having information and being informed. If you’re a corporation that inspires media coverage and social conversations — hundreds or thousands of times a day — how are you identifying what really matters? Gathering information is simple; producing intelligence that informs strategic decisions takes more than technology. It takes humans with experience and acumen that know your business to curate and analyze the information and data. Not all coverage or conversation is equal; culling the quality from the quantity is the challenge. Are you providing your executive team with a 10-album box set every day or a playlist of the greatest hits?
Four steps toward more actionable insight
1. Whether you are leveraging members of your team or working with a partner for curation and analysis, the critical first step in turning information into insight is understanding your business goals. Knowing what you and your executive team need to know — not necessarily what is easy to measure — will inform the content sources and metrics on which to focus. Do you need to improve reputation and track share of voice across influential media? Monitor regulatory issues that will affect your industry? These topics become sections of your dashboard and help your analyst team separate the signal from the noise.
2. Identify the content sources to be analyzed. There is a universe of information that spans websites, print, broadcast, and social media; it needs to be narrowed down to the outlets most valuable to you. You can track a variety of sources, but trying to cover it all — or doing so in an unfocused way that starts with a keyword search every day — will paralyze your team with frustration and provide you with inconsistent input. Start simply, refine your workflow and allow yourself the opportunity to become more sophisticated in your process and analysis in the future.
3. Once you’ve selected the content sources for consideration, the curation and vetting process can begin. In the simplest terms, you are creating rules and filters to inform analysts about which content and metrics are most relevant. If your dashboard has a section on competitive activity, identifying which companies, and related keywords, to include — and exclude — is part of this step. Then, decide which type of content makes it through your filter. You may want to be alerted to new partnerships, product launches, and media coverage in top outlets, while ignoring customer complaints that occur throughout the day on social media. For some companies, however, trends in those social conversations may be important. That determination is dependent on your strategic goals and how you plan to use that insight.
4. The last step is report creation or storytelling. Part of it is packaging the insight you have created into a format that your audience wants to receive. For many companies, it is an email newsletter that can be distributed quickly and viewed by an executive on the go. You also have to consider frequency. A daily news brief featuring your company’s top media coverage and that of competitors can provide more actionable insight than a monthly digest. However, that analysis of share of voice may be more meaningful if it tracks trends over the course of a quarter. Regardless of format, remember the goal is not in creating a better clip book. It is an opportunity for a PR to contribute strategic commentary and analysis that help answer questions that impact your business.
Mike Piispanen is VP and global head of media intelligence at Nasdaq.