PR Measurement in a Multichannel World – Finding Sense in the Noise

The proliferation of social media platforms and the fracturing of the traditional media landscape make it necessary for PR and communications professionals to monitor a dizzying number of outlets. The simple step of logging into a monitoring platform can bring on a sense of overwhelm when you are faced with hundreds or thousands of results to review.

To effectively pull insights out of high volume from multiple channels, it helps to have a plan or process in place that allows the content that matters most to rise to the top. This helps to focus your efforts so you can be most effective.

Keep your Long-Term Monitoring Objectives in Mind

Tying monitoring and measurement activity to business goals is the instruction PR professionals have heard for years. But this guidance can quickly fade into the background, especially with limited time to review content from multiple channels.

If you’ve gone through the trouble of identifying how PR supports business goals, one way to focus your efforts is to get a sense of what type of content you are looking for on each platform. Make a list of each platform you’re monitoring for content, and then add either a reason why you are monitoring that platform for content or the type of content you think is important.

Your list might look something like this:

  • Trade media – Looking for company mentions and competitor coverage
  • Broadcast – News coverage of industry issues
  • X (Twitter) – Breaking news about the industry; crisis monitoring for our company
  • Facebook – Consumer responses to our product, target audience research
  • General media – Company and competitor coverage, and any regulatory changes that may affect the industry

Creating a list like this is a practice designed to remind you of the primary reason you are monitoring each platform. This doesn’t mean you’ll ignore content that matches your monitoring terms but falls into a different “bucket.” For example, if a trade magazine runs a piece about how economic conditions in a region you are considering expanding into are causing labor rates to skyrocket, that’s obviously an article you’ll want to pay attention to, even though it’s not specifically covering “company mentions and competitor coverage.”

This task is designed to help prioritize which content deserves your attention first and to provide clarity on why you are monitoring these platforms and channels.

Visibility, Prominence, and Reach Matter

Paying attention to visibility, followers, and reach can help when you’re trying to determine what’s important to your monitoring and reporting.

News and social content shared by outlets or individuals with large followings will reach more eyeballs. This simple fact drives everything from advertising rates to influencer opportunities. It’s why companies covet a mention in the New York Times or on the BBC.

However, having a far reach isn’t the only thing that matters. A prominent article about your business in a trade publication that is widely read within your industry might actually carry just as much weight as a mention in a high-reach media outlet. Visibility may even be higher, depending on the placement in the high-reach publication.

Make a list of your priority outlets and publications. Dividing target outlets into tiers can help crystalize what type of coverage really matters to your organization. Again, this exercise isn’t about ignoring other coverage, it’s about allowing what matters most to gain your full attention.

Use Tools to Help You Keep Track

Talk to your monitoring provider to see if there are features or tools available that can help you accomplish the task of flagging or highlighting key publications or coverage. Some programs have built-in tools that can help. Or, you may find it’s cost-effective to have their experts conduct an audit of your content, creating the reports or pulling out the data that you need.

It can be as simple as adding a tag to an item, so you can find it quickly later when you are running analytics or pulling together a report, or you might want to create newsletters or digests of key coverage. Whichever method works for you, the objective is to establish a separate pool of the most important coverage.

Separating out priority coverage can help in a number of ways.

  • It provides a side-by-side comparison to your overall coverage. By separating or flagging priority coverage, you can add helpful context to your analysis. Compare a quarterly report of media coverage that includes a pie chart showing 75% neutral and 25% positive coverage with another report that includes the additional detail that the neutral-sentiment passing mentions are in non-priority outlets and the positive coverage is all found in high-priority outlets. The first report would essentially be masking an important point—that coverage in target outlets is positive. You can also apply this process to your social media analysis, examining how your target audience is reacting compared with the broader audience.
  • It can show where you may need to refocus outreach efforts. While looking at all coverage as a whole can hide positive findings, it can also inadvertently downplay problems too. If your overall volume numbers are fairly stable, if you aren’t examining specifically how priority outlets are performing, you might miss subtle changes or drops in coverage.
  • Separating priority coverage provides an at-a-glance progress report – Showing how PR and communications efforts are resonating specifically in the outlets and on platforms that your target audience uses can help you identify important trends and which messages are resonating with your key audiences.

Analyzing your priority coverage separately from all coverage is a fast, effective way to zero in on the content that matters most.

Extracting Insight from All Coverage

The processes outlined above use subsets of data for analysis, looking specifically at either certain audiences or certain publications.

Sometimes, you need to look at the whole. In this case, charts should be your go-to tactic. For example, if you are generating a media report on a monthly basis and you are faced with the raw number of 10,000 articles generated by your keywords in the previous month, reviewing each item would be incredibly time-consuming.

Your monitoring tool’s charts can be a big help in tackling this task. See if there’s a chart that shows volume by day, using the time period you are analyzing. Looking at that chart should quickly show which days saw spikes in coverage. You can then use those content spikes to narrow your analysis and answer the question of what topics or issues drove coverage over the month. Sentiment, volume, outlets—charts can help you to quickly uncover answers, or refine the questions you are asking.

Having multiple channels to follow can be managed effectively by prioritizing, looking at the content that is most critical to your success, and getting full use of monitoring services at your disposal.

Speak with one of our experienced consultants about your media monitoring and communications evaluation today.