PublicRelay expands social media brand analysis to Twitter

The demand reflects the influence of conversations extending beyond traditional media.

PublicRelay CEO Eric Koefoot.
PublicRelay CEO Eric Koefoot.

TYSONS CORNER, VA: PublicRelay is expanding its social media brand analysis program to Twitter on January 1. 

The feature aims to help brands better understand current issues, trends, risks and opportunities, by gathering and analyzing data from Twitter.

Founded in 2008, the company has traditionally provided media monitoring and analytics for online print and broadcast. Its 100-plus client list includes organizations such as Prudential, Berkshire Hathaway, Merck and the New York Life Insurance Company.

Conversations affecting public relations continue to extend beyond the mainstream media. So, PublicRelay is applying its technology to Twitter to help clients assess brand sentiment and reputation, and make comparisons with competitors. 

PublicRelay CEO Eric Koefoot said in a written statement that clients for years have felt automated social listening technology has not accurately measured perceptions of qualities such as trust, leadership, diversity and inclusion—which impact reputation.

He added that PublicRelay’s added feature will increase PR professionals’ and marketers’ grasp of conversations concerning brands on social media.

PublicRelay’s director of marketing Marshall Richards, told PRWeek that keyword tracking and automated social listening could capture the number of tweets about a subject. However, he added that AI alone is not at the level where it can provide information with the accuracy that businesses need. 

So, PublicRelay uses “human-augmented technology.” Teams of analysts—people familiar with accounts, who know the brands, provide context to give the data more meaning.

“An AI program can assign a sentiment to content to understand the tone. But the problem is that it has a really hard time understanding nuance,” Richards said.

As one example, he pointed out how an aid organization could receive a great deal of media attention, when responding to a crisis. Typically, automated sentiment could capture words like “blood” and “disaster” as negative sounding. 

But a human analyst going through the data would understand that the aid assistance is actually mentioned in a positive way, as helping the situation, explained Richards. 

With the tool, brands can get a better sense of the success or impact of campaigns. Comms pros can learn about public sentiments on current issues, tracking influencers and overall conversations. This can help companies plan actions and frame more effective messages, he said.

Richards also said that users can pair the social media analytics with client data, such as from surveys, polls or website traffic, to drive business goals.

The immediate upgrade will focus on Twitter. But the company plans to next expand its social media tool to Reddit.

In September, private equity firm Tritium Partners made a significant growth investment of an undisclosed amount in PublicRelay. The funds supported its analytics and information services, along with AI applications for predictive capabilities, according to the company.

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