From mentions to business impact: The new rules of PR measurement

Mentions, share of voice and sentiment may not be cutting it, says Josh Ginsberg, CEO of Zignal Labs.

In an age of endless information, it’s easier than ever to measure the success and impact of your work — but only if you know what to measure, and how.

Here’s the good news. While the modern media landscape is becoming more blended and complex, it’s also becoming smarter. New technologies and business demands have opened up a whole new world for measuring PR and communications programs.

More specifically, we now have the opportunity to transform traditional metrics — like mentions, share of voice (SOV) and sentiment — with data-driven, forward-thinking metrics to help drive smart business decisions.

Here are three key metrics enhancements to consider:

Swap mentions for business impact. While most brands on social media track mentions, we’ve reached a point where simply knowing how many times your brand or product was mentioned is no longer useful without additional context.

Add that context by layering your mentions metric with data and analytics from various channels relevant to your business, such as Google Analytics, sales figures, site visitors, stock price and app downloads.

By considering how mentions impact different variables, and vice versa, you’ll get a more nuanced picture of how your brand’s reach is driving critical business outcomes.

Swap SOV for engagement. When it comes to measuring how you’re doing against your competition, SOV has traditionally been considered king.

But what if having the strongest overall voice isn’t having the right impact on business results, or reaching the right audience?

That’s where engagement comes in. Instead of focusing solely on overall share of voice, consider measuring engagement with specific authors, influencers and audiences. You’ll be able to identify areas where your brand is already a trusted voice and then build out your influence by expanding those footholds into larger communities and related areas of expertise.

Swap sentiment for media quality. No brand wants to be talked about in a negative light. That’s why sentiment has become such a valued metric for communications professionals.

The problem with sentiment, however, is that it’s kind of a blunt instrument. With only three outputs (positive, neutral and negative), it doesn’t provide a clear indication of brand health or an understanding of which messages are resonating in real time.

To more deeply measure the impact of your brand’s comms strategy, combine sentiment with a media quality score that measures five key dimensions central to modern media coverage: prominence, frequency, redistribution, reach and sentiment.

When you better understand the quality and resonance of the conversations happening around your brand and key messages, you can better ensure you’re hitting the right notes to drive your business forward.

Putting it all together. By making these metrics enhancements, you can bring incredible value and insight to your organization. Each is powerful in its own right. But they are even more powerful when combined to create a fuller, more contextual view of your media landscape.

However, as with any tool, metrics are only as good as the people using them. And while these metrics and tools can help to take your organization to the next level, data and analytics can only take you so far.

Your expert interpretation of the analysis and insights provided by modern measurement metrics is arguably the most important layer of context needed to confidently power your communications and business efforts in the future.

Josh Ginsberg is CEO of Zignal Labs.

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