-Mary Elizabeth Germaine, partner/MD, global analytics, Ketchum
-Ann Marie Gothard, VP, corporate media relations, Henry Schein
-Allyson Hugley, VP, global communications, head of research and analytics, Prudential Financial
-Ray Kerins, SVP and head of comms, government relations, and policy, Bayer
-Julien Cerutti, global senior director, Enterprise, Meltwater (moderator)
With the importance of measuring PR activity broadly established and accepted, taking the conversation to the next level was the main inspiration as industry leaders recently gathered for “The evolution of PR measurement: The numbers and beyond,” a Meltwater-hosted webcast.
To set the stage, Meltwater’s Julien Cerutti proclaims, “There needs to be more nuance to measurement. And with all the technology advancements that have helped PR’s evolution, it is vitally important we find better ways to structure our data.”
Kicking the discussion off with KPIs, Prudential Financial’s Allyson Hugley asserts, “It’s all about context – be it historic, comparative, etc. You must parse your data by impact against discrete events and discrete audiences.”
In addition, Hugley emphasizes an often overlooked aspect of typical KPI conversations – employees.
“Organizations need to understand the degree to which they are driving employee engagement,” she explains. “What signals can you pick up that indicate the health of your employee base.”
Bayer’s Ray Kerins practices what Hugley preaches.
“During the global pandemic, we saw that our actual engagement scores went up,” he reports of the concerted effort his company places in constantly monitoring staff sentiments. “The way leadership handles crisis, particularly this one, goes a long way in terms of internal trust.” You must have your pulse on that at all times, Kerins adds.
Ketchum’s Mary Elizabeth Germaine challenges PR pros to “measure further down the funnel.” To do that most effectively, communicators must build a framework that ladders up to an overarching strategy and an overall business objective.
“You don't just throw metrics on a piece of paper and say, ‘Here's how we're going to measure,’” she advises. “You start by focusing on the business problem you’re solving and/or the business strategy you are supporting. Then you pick and choose metrics that allow you to showcase progress against that work.”
Webcast participants were (clockwise from top left): Germaine, Cerutti, Hugley, Kerins and Gothard
A READ ON REPUTATION
There are few words more important to a brand than “reputation.” When it comes to gauging its business impact, though, Cerutti counsels, “Reputation goes far beyond the product experience. The way brands look at it now must be omni-dimensional.”
Focusing on the vital role the media plays in this, Henry Schein’s Ann Marie Gothard highlighted a unique aspect of data gathering that has hit the forefront during the current pandemic for the global healthcare products and services provider.
“We currently find ourselves working with a tremendous number of reporters now assigned to us who had no idea what supply chain is about,” she reports. “We had to research these reporters to see what they normally cover so that we could do our part to help them understand what we were doing. In turn, this would help ensure reporting is accurate and consistent.”
Hugley suggests a much broader appreciation of what reputation truly entails.
“You can’t view – nor measure – reputation in a single frame,” she says. “There's reputation around your product brand, which is where you align yourself with the full customer experience. There's the employer brand, which gets to what you prioritize in terms of attracting and retaining talent. Then there’s the citizen brand, which is how you present in the marketplace as an entity who cares about the community.”
In an age where purpose is paramount, Hugley stresses the importance of calibrating all such initiatives to business impact.
HOW MEASUREMENT IMPACTS THE MESSAGE
As comms measurement continues to evolve, it is just as incumbent upon PR pros to expand not just how they measure, but what they measure.
To that end, Germaine is a huge proponent of looking at search data.
“Especially in a time of crisis, it helps to know what keywords people are searching for,” she counsels. “These are great indicators of the language consumers are associating with your brand. Search terms offer incredible insights to help you get a pulse on what people actually think.”
Circling back to reputation, Kerins underscores a benefit of constant monitoring – and subsequent efforts based on it.
“One of the things that always strikes me in a time of crisis is ‘benefit of the doubt,’” he admits. “All the work you do to build a good reputation, greatly aided by data, will help a brand when it faces a crisis because it will get that benefit of the doubt.”
Nuance helped start this conversation – and Hugley brings it full circle.
“A brand’s actions will often endear one part of your stakeholder base as it alienates another,” she notes. “That is why it is vital to have a more nuanced view of your key audiences. And you are not going to get that from media analysis alone. I would say the same for social media analysis,” which is valuable, but doesn’t give a complete picture.
“You have to make investments in proprietary research,” concludes Hugley, “so you can independently understand the views of all your stakeholders.”
The above is a taste of our esteemed panel’s views on how PR measurement in evolving. For much more, you can view the webcast on demand – for free – here.