-Mary Osako, vice chancellor, strategic comms, UCLA
-Christopher Krantz, senior comms director, S&P Global
-Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., president and CEO, Institute for Public Relations (IPR)
-Paige Leidig, CMO, NetBase Quid
Media intelligence has always been a critical part of the comms function. Technology has made the gathering of it more efficient and effective than ever. However, the sheer volume of information to be gathered and analyzed has proved to be tough to handle, especially without a plan.
For help navigating this tricky terrain, NetBase Quid, in partnership with PRWeek, recently released an eBook, Media Intelligence: What to Watch For, that gives a snapshot on where PR pros stand on media intelligence and offers a roadmap for how they can bolster those efforts.
That conversation goes to the next level during this webcast, which from the get-go focuses on some of the top-level findings from the survey at the foundation of this NetBase/PRWeek project.
For example, the comms pros who took the survey clearly recognize they could do a better job collecting and analyzing insights about media coverage. Only 13% rate themselves as “excellent” at collecting ongoing real-time insights from their media coverage, while 43% rate themselves as fair or worse. And of those who deem themselves excellent or good, only 21% feel they are “excellent” at effectively analyzing and using those insights.
A unified approach
Improving those numbers, all panelists agree, starts with a unified monitoring and metric system platform – a step Paige Leidig, CMO of NetBase Quid, says his customers are increasingly taking.
“The amount of data we're having to process is just exploding,” he explains. “The market is changing so fast that aggregating that data effectively and understanding it quickly is getting harder. Having an aggregated platform to look at all channels – whether it's owned, partnered, paid or earned – in a single view helps you understand what's driving your business. It's not simply measuring brand mentions. It's understanding the context or the competitive environment and behaviors of your audience, and how they're engaging with not only your brand, but your purpose.”
The other leaders on the webcast support Leidig’s views, noting that successful single platforms are thoughtfully constructed to capture relevant data across all media platforms. Of course, success requires getting input from team members across the organization at the onset.
“The biggest challenge to providing meaningful and actionable analytics is so many metrics floating around that are not relevant,” notes Christopher Krantz, senior comms director at S&P Global. “Determining what is relevant requires thought at the front end. Bringing your team in early and getting ideas from everybody is hugely important. You have to work with your media aggregator and your coverage team to help them refine their process and their analytics so you're getting what's important to you.”
Partnering more effectively with your insights provider, whether internal or external, is also critical for an effective assessment tool.
“Companies must demand that insights piece,” asserts Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., president and CEO at IPR. “To do this effectively, the individuals responsible have to understand the business, the questions you are trying to answer and the overall goal of what you're trying to achieve.”
Webcast speakers were (clockwise from top left) Osako, Krantz, McCorkindale and Leidig.
Earning your way
While both earned and paid media have an important place in a brand's toolkit, 68% of survey respondents agree that consumers trust earned media more than paid or even owned media – and that goes up to 84% when those who say “consumers trust them equally” are not factored. So while earned media can be the most challenging to gauge in terms of impact on a brand, panelists agreed it’s worth the effort.
When it comes to media coverage, quality wins over quantity. “At Amazon, when we launched drone delivery, we decided to give it to one outlet, 60 Minutes,” shares Mary Osako, vice chancellor of strategic comms at UCLA, who has worked at a number of tech companies, including Amazon, where she was head of global comms from 2009-2014. “It was very measurable to understand the impact of that and to see the other social channels start lighting up and the narrative start to take over. And it happened pretty quickly.”
Factors such as amplification by other outlets, what the public or employees say about coverage or whether or not it even registers with an audience need to be considered. When you can look at how coverage gets “amplified by employees, by other people on social media, then you start to see what's really driving the conversation,” says Krantz.
Partnering with other business units can also help a brand better evaluate media coverage.
“At the end of the day, we're all communications professionals and we need to apply those same skills to tell the story about our media impact,” adds Krantz. “It’s important to engage with colleagues in other parts of the business – whether it's the commercial teams, customer-facing teams or senior leadership – to find out what their high-value targets are, not just from a media point of view, but from a broader point of view, as well.”
Working relationships with opinion leaders, top journalists and bloggers in critical markets has always been a keystone of any comms strategy, yet only 36% of survey respondents say “very much so” when asked if they have a good grasp of those leaders in their most important markets. And that is not good enough.
“We know the 20% of folks we want to engage with respect to our positioning or messaging, but that other 80% is changing so fast,” notes Leidig. “All of a sudden, your brand is tied to a topic that 18 months ago wasn't even relevant to your brand. And the speed in which your brand can be tied to that topic is growing so fast. We're constantly trying to keep up to speed on who they are.”
“The pandemic hurt us in terms of relationship-building with journalists, especially outside the industry,” suggests McCorkindale. While many agree with that assessment, Osako sees another side to the challenge of building relationships in lockdown.
“The past 18 months have given us an opportunity to bring our whole and authentic selves to work,” she explains. “Being on Zoom, having these national global conversations around some topics that are truly uncomfortable helped increase the relational side of our business. At the end of the day, as communicators, it's so relational.”
Krantz also focuses on the opportunities discovered during the previous year-plus.
“It’s broken down some of the barriers and introduced a bit of informality that can actually be beneficial to building relationships,” he adds. “I'm more likely these days to just pick up the phone and call somebody spontaneously.”
Panelists agreed that to be successful, relationships between PR people and journalists must be mutually beneficial. Keeping in mind how busy those professionals are, not wasting their time and avoiding overkill pitching have always been important to forging meaningful relationships, perhaps never more so than now.
Comms pros also must also be adept at determining which stories are – and are not – truly impacting how others see their company. And this is a skill in need of improvement, too, as only 24% of survey respondents say “very much so” when asked if they can effectively identify the stories driving brand perception.
“The prediction component is really hard. Attitudes are fluid,” concedes Osako. “Research shows that people make a lot of unconscious decisions, including brand perception, so a significant story can have tremendous impact, where coverage over time may not. People are not entirely predictable, even though we can be more predictive.”
Krantz feels a good place to start is by having a good understanding of what your brand perception is. Only then can comms pros effectively analyze whether coverage is amplifying or reflecting what people already think of your organization or whether it’s changing people’s minds.
For all the valuable insights shared during this webcast, click here to watch it on demand.
And click here to download the eBook, Media Intelligence; What to Watch For, that served as the foundation for this conversation.