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Article • 16/06/2022

Demonstrating the effectiveness of Communications with accurate data

By Neil Morrison, Global Head of Measurement at Signal AI

At the risk of repeating myself, this blog will cover an area that I feel is missed in a lot of measurement programs. Like any team in a company, the PR and Communications team needs to demonstrate that it is both hitting its own objectives and, in turn, supporting the objectives of the business. In my experience how people go about this differs massively.

Without accurate data it can be tempting to paint an opaque picture. We can explain the intangible areas of PR, the art of influence, that campaigns have ‘landed well’. That there isn’t really a metric that demonstrates success. ‘This isn’t Marketing you know, it’s much more complex’.

These excuses are not really relevant any more. The metrics and data are available to demonstrate effectiveness. The next step is education. Education of people who do not understand PR & Communications and how it has evolved over the last few years. Who do not understand that the goals of PR & Communications have moved on from simply gaining coverage on the front page of the FT.

A quick list of what a measurement program should cover demonstrates the challenge here:

  • Sentiment of media perception and the impact that the PR & Communications team are having on this.
  • Success of initiatives in gaining traction in the media.
  • Success of messaging. This is a key metric that showcases the perception of your brand or company.
  • Prevalence of key spokespeople in media coverage.
  • What topics/themes are we associated with? Who within the competitor/peer group companies are leading the debate on issues we care about?
  • What issues are gaining traction that we want to have an opinion on?
  • What can we learn from competitors’ media perception? How do we adapt our approach?
  • What are the positive and negative drivers of the narrative surrounding our brand or company?

As you can see, we have moved on from saying we got five pieces in the Nationals and the campaign ‘landed well’. The difficulty here is that there is a lot to cover and with the best will in the world PR & Communications will get minimal air time at board level. The key then is to use what time is given in the most effective way. The two most important areas here are focus and data visualisation.

What focus looks like

By focus I mean we should make a conscious decision about what we are going to share and report on. Try not to bombard the audience with data, focus on the impact that the team has had and be as concise as possible. Practical examples of this could be:

  • We’ve increased our share of voice in the discussion around D&I from 10% to 25% over the last month which supports our initiative to hire the best talent.
  • 92% of our coverage included a brand pillar which demonstrates that we are getting the message across about the type of company we are.
    95% of coverage was non negative.
  • Spokespeople were quoted in 62% of coverage which is a 10% increase month on month. This has been a particular focus and accounts for the increase in coverage mentioning a brand pillar.

How to visualize this data

I work with clients every day on how to then visualize this data. This is only going to get 1-2 slides maximum in a board report so part of the challenge is to distil all of this information whilst making it accessible to a non PR & Communications audience. You will need to remember here that the board will come to this data with their own biases, their own media echo chamber. This means that you will need to be crystal clear with the insight and be able to back it up with data points if required.

The side effect of this approach is that PR & Communications is more likely to be understood and valued in a business. Yes, it is a real achievement to get on the front page of the FT (for the right reasons) but this should be a bi product of great coverage rather than the stated aim and subsequent achievement. More effective sharing of data will inform your colleagues about the role that PR & Communications is having on the overall business objectives, and a more valued team can also be a better funded team.

In summary

  • How Comms activity contributes to the overall business performance is better than standalone achievements.
  • Tell the story of the performance by focusing on specifics rather than bombarding the audience with too much information.
  • Make the data accessible to all audiences and be able to back it up.
  • Visualizing the performance data is key to getting the message across.

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