When it comes to measuring the effectiveness and impact of PR campaigns, teams mostly assess a campaign once it is over, when the results can be analysed.
But for some businesses, live data and feedback are starting to help shape campaigns and media work while they are ongoing.
Paul Quigley is the chief executive of NewsWhip, a real-time media monitoring company that tracks news stories, engagement and interest.
He said at the conference that monitoring can offer brands the ability to spot both opportunities and risks, by understanding the issues people care about. The next question for brands is: “How do you fit that into a workflow and apply that to work?”
More sophisticated data
Jillian Ney, founder of the Social Intelligence Lab, said more companies are starting to use real-time data. “A lot of organisations started to invest in social listening and analysis, but after a crisis had happened – and that was too late. They’re now starting to use that data in more sophisticated ways and for a variety of use cases.” She said this can mean everything from managing crisis communications to understanding where certain products should be stocked to where manufacturing should happen. “It differs depending on what the business needs.”
Ney added that every business goes on a slightly different journey when it comes to becoming more data informed – and it’s rarely a simple one. “More organisations are starting to get buy-in internally from their leadership. It’s not an easy thing to undergo, but they are moving forward.”
Amil Kahn is founder and director of Valent Projects, a digital agency that addresses digital manipulation, disinformation and misinformation. He says data often comes into its own when organisations are faced with a confusing situation, or conflicting accounts. “Data is good for cutting through the noise and people’s perceptions. It helps us to understand the situation and present a clear reading, as well as to advise on what to do next.”
Balance resource and insight
Marcus Beard is a former head of media monitoring at UK Government Rapid Response Unit, and led a team through the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the pandemic prompted a big culture shift at the department, with data moving centre-stage.
Beard said any organisation looking to do more real-time monitoring needs to focus their resource where it matters. For instance, he suggested using data to find and focus on the most problematic sources of misinformation. The rapid response team identified 20 meme pages that were spreading most of the misinformation during the pandemic and focused its time and energy on those. “You’ve got to find a balance between the resource you have, and the insight you need.”