COMMENT: PLATFORM; Analysis brings the big picture into focus

Some PR professionals are ignoring the wider benefits of media analysis at a cost to company reputation, says Dermot McKeone

Some PR professionals are ignoring the wider benefits of media analysis

at a cost to company reputation, says Dermot McKeone

Media analysis is in good shape right now, and I happen to think it will

survive with ease. If it does, it won’t be any thanks to the more

obsessive advocates of PR evaluation, many of whom are missing a bigger

picture. The publicity surrounding the fledgling media analysis industry

has been driven by the need for PR campaign evaluation to such an extent

that the wider benefits of media analysis have sometimes been ignored.

The big picture I’m referring to above is the profile of The Company Plc

- with all its warts and pimples - which corporate communicators need

to study carefully from various angles if they are going to enhance the

company’s reputation. By evaluating a public relations campaign, and

analysing only the coverage they have generated proactively, they are

shutting most of this picture out. It’s like trying to appreciate a

painting by looking at bits of it through a microscope.

The trouble is, for many companies the big picture sometimes looks a

little tarnished. While their proactive PR may be of high quality, there

are forces that are working against it. A variety of influences - both

inside the company and outside it - can cause this. Perhaps a

manufacturing division has offended a local council with its noxious

emissions; perhaps a disgruntled ex-employee has betrayed a

confidentiality with disastrous consequences. A simmering industrial

relations problem, an adverse ombudsman’s report, or the departure of

one or two key executives can also add a few unwanted brushstrokes. And

of course none of these are the communications professional’s ‘fault’.

So, as often as not, coverage of such items don’t get included in the


This is a shame because the unwanted, problematical bits of the picture

are sometimes the most important. If your campaigns need the creativity

of a Cezanne and a Degas, then the problem areas need the genius of a


Viewing the big picture can bring benefits of other kinds. For a start,

there is a good case for funding it from resources other than the PR

budget - the market research budget for instance. A campaign evaluation

is more difficult to fund from anywhere but the PR budget. And a broad

picture provides the communicator with hard evidence of trends in

message deliver and image development, irrespective of what has caused

them - evidence which can be used to fight internal battles. As such, it

give the enterprising communications professional (in-house or

consultancy) the chance to broaden his or her sphere of influence.

The rewards for looking at the big picture are high. The charts and

graphs that represent the warts-and-all picture of an organisation’s

media profile have a place on the boardroom table even if they aren’t

pretty enough to hang on the wall. And the communications professional

who has the will to present such a picture in the boardroom can be said

to be one of the true guardians of the company’s reputation.

Oh, and by the way, you can also use media analysis to find out how

effective your media relations campaigns have been.

Dermot McKeone is managing director of Infopress Communications

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