“In God we trust! All others must bring data.”
As a public relations and media monitoring professional, I can tell you that this quote from physicist and efficiency expert W. Edwards Deming has always inspired our industry. In fact, the desire to quantify our efforts so that we can improve is the driving force for all the major steps in PR history.
The first monitoring company, Romeike & Curtice, was founded in 1852 to compile physical “clippings” from news outlets; General Electric first used computing technology to assist in analysis of media monitoring in the 1970s and included television and radio; and the 2000s ushered in an era of social media and digital transformation that greatly expanded the scope of PR data.
But despite this appearance of linear progress, PR data analysis and media monitoring solutions operate in fundamentally the same ways they did 150 years ago. It’s an industry long in need of a disruption. But before we dive into what that disruption looks like, it’s helpful to understand exactly why it’s so necessary.
The greatest challenge for PR professionals has always been contextualizing the outcomes of our work. What impact does my story have in the marketplace if it’s shared by this journalist or that media outlet? How do I know if my PR budget is generating a return? And — most importantly — what should I do once I find out?
Answering these questions and establishing context with data should be the goal of modern media monitoring. But in practice, this context eludes us for several key reasons:
For all the advances in digital technology, media monitoring is still primarily a manual exercise for many organizations and agencies. This starts with the creation of monitoring models for the initial capture of data, which are coded by hand — a process that can often take weeks and must be repeated for each use case or customer instance.
When you finally do arrive at data after all that manual process, it’s still only as good as the analysis and the actions it allows you to take. Most monitoring agencies and tools code for specific parameters, so analysts must stay within those parameters as they interpret the data. This narrows your field of view in the marketplace, and it’s a process that must be repeated over and over again to generate new insight.
Metrics for PR performance often lack the veracity of other marketing indicators. Traditional measures like advertising value equivalent (AVE) conflate cost with value, meaning you may not get the bang for the buck that your metrics say you should. Advertising is also a unique discipline from PR, so using AVE isn’t a precise reflection of PR impact.
Earned media value (EMV) is more robust, but without additional supporting data, it is challenging to contextualize. Sentiment scores are important for understanding the feelings driving a story or identifying a potential risk, but they are often assigned manually, leaving you open to bias. And many important stats, like readership, are calculated differently in different markets.
PR metrics are often viewed in a vacuum, separate from other marketing reporting. But other metrics, especially those around social media engagement, can provide critical context for PR efforts and offer a much clearer picture of what’s working and what’s not.
Many brands are also organized into silos within the same organization, making it hard to share data consistently and quickly, or even come to an agreement on what the data is saying. If your brand can’t integrate PR data with other marketing metrics and share unified reporting across teams, you can’t take action.
I’ve encountered each of those challenges numerous times in my PR career. It’s often been frustrating, but it’s also given me a clear perspective on how to disrupt media monitoring to deliver better, faster results. The future of our industry will feature these key ingredients:
To take the biggest leap forward requires leveraging technology to the fullest extent of its capability. That starts with automating all the manual coding and process that currently slows us down. Be sure to select a solution that allows you to build (and change as necessary) listening queries so you can capture the broadest scope of insight from the most outlets and channels.
AI is another essential element for your media monitoring strategy. For starters, it breaks down the narrow parameters that restrict analysis by clustering information, so you can better understand the relationships among different kinds of coverage and filter out noisy data to isolate factors most relevant to your brand. AI also learns over time, so you can generate better data and even eliminate bias that comes from manual coding.
Building off a foundation of automation and AI also creates more meaningful metrics for success, allows brands to benchmark against competitors, and generate actionable strategies.
Sentiment scores and EMV are still important, but AI helps you achieve the former without bias and better understand the latter by combining it with more robust measurements like:
Impact score, which adds engagement metrics from news and web outlets to social metrics
Overall reach, which combines traditional and social reach into a single score
Web shares, which help you understand the life cycle and impact of a news story by tracking how it’s shared across social channels
The days of PR operating in isolation from the rest of your marketing apparatus are gone. In order to get the most out of media monitoring, you need the ability to view PR data side by side with other marketing metrics.
An integrated marketing team that incorporates PR data in its reporting gives you the fullest picture of ROI, helps you understand leading indicators from traditional media sources and how they might affect other marketing efforts, and allows you to quickly take action by unifying data across silos.
Imagine being able to create customized content that responds to changes in news coverage instantaneously, or track competitor performance with social listening and media monitoring simultaneously, or make last-minute adjustments to a launching campaign if a market risk is detected. It’s that kind of immediate action that is impossible in the old PR paradigm.
If you’re like me, you’ve been ready for these kinds of disruptions to traditional media monitoring services for years. Sprinklr is taking a huge step into that future with Media Monitoring & Analytics, part of Modern Research. This powerful solution allows you to:
Filter out noise and monitor the most brand-critical news stories and performance metrics with clustering AI
Automate queries to eliminate time-consuming manual coding, getting actionable insight into the right hands faster
Integrate traditional PR metrics with social listening and engagement metrics tracked across news outlets, top journalists, podcasts, and 30+ modern social channels
Reduce inefficiency, redundancy, and silos with the only unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform, which puts marketing and PR metrics side by side for better ROI and faster, more collaborative teams
To experience the difference Sprinklr can make for your brand, check out our recent Impact Report. It shows you visually compelling dashboards that reach across industries to explore the impact of important global news. After you’ve taken a spin, set up some time to discuss how you can become a media monitoring disruptor today.