Why data is important in Public Relations - #ARM Worldwide

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In God we trust, all others must bring data- William Edwards Deming.

One of the most undesirable yet common scenarios in marketing is that brands invest their money and efforts in marketing but fail to get the desired results. When the question of where the money went is posed, most people are left with nothing but blank faces. However, as of right now, the scenario is finally changing since the digital space is offering us tools that can measure the impact of our PR efforts and avoid this situation. Every PR agency should adopt these metrics and use data to analyse their PR efforts. It is a better choice for not only them but also the brands they are working for, as they both can monitor the results of PR campaigns and move ahead with a clear picture in mind.

We are living in a digital era, and as PR professionals, we need to understand how relevant data is in the contemporary world to get better and impactful results. No matter what you do – be it converting leads or improving your social media strategy – data holds the key. It is the insights that are derived from data that shape up the entire marketing scenario itself in today’s day and age.

There are people in the industry who doubt the value of PR and consider it to be a waste of money and resources. To nullify that school of thought, PR needs to tap into the power of data and show more data-driven results. Results, when backed up with data, are more accessible and provide a clear direction on how to move ahead. Here, we list down three ways on how PR can explore the importance of data.

Note: We should have limited expectations from PR, you can’t measure the strength of media relation, you can’t measure how positive journalist are for your brand, you can’t directly measure the impact of media rounds but with the evolution of digital platforms you can map the results on organic growth of the business.

#1 There is more to data than just coverage tracking
When it comes to data, the number of impressions and the hits they have is not the only thing that matters. You should look beyond them from a bigger perspective. Analyse the news that interests the audience through the hits they get, then try and target this niche by publishing content and gauging the engagement. Figure out the news outlets that cover your content the most, along with the ones with whom you need to build better relationships. It will help you redefine your goals – after all, the ultimate aim of a PR professional is to create a landscape that helps them give their best.

#2 Be more curious, ask more questions
Have a 360-degree approach towards data. Apart from the media coverage you get, what else can you gain through data? What other aspects does a media coverage highlight? Think hard and look at the bigger perspective again; don’t just care about the number of hits, see the quality of hits as well. You should know what is essential. Continually asking questions about things around opens you to new ideas and better ways to engage in business. Analyse the data to understand the working trends in your industry. It can help you draw a better conclusion on the progress you are making against yourself and the competitors in the market.

#3 Data validates your work
Keep a record of your work in the form of data; The reach every article has, and the goals you achieved through every content piece. When you report to your clients, your data is your true friend. More than your words, your numbers will convince your client of the work you are doing. Today, data drives big decisions and statistics decide whether it will be a yes or no. People will always ask why you took a specific decision? For such questions, your data will be your way.

Casestudy: Since last one year we are putting lot of efforts around PR and content marketing for

Every time a brand or a business does a PR campaign, they invest a good amount of money and resources to make the PR campaign a huge success. It is necessary to understand how impactful the investment was and in what direction the efforts are going? To evaluate the PR efforts, there are majorly six metrics, and they are as follows:-

  1. Audience engagement
    The objective of PR is not just about communicating a message instead it is also about engaging your audience in striking a communication with them. Initiating audience towards better engagement will help you gain better results in your PR efforts. Audience engagement goes beyond impressions and depends more on the number of clicks, likes, comments a post gets.

    It is not about getting a large number of followers on your social media handles instead of getting a relevant audience that engages with your posts. Interactions add more meaning to your campaigns, rather than constantly posting content, we need to stop a while and try to focus our efforts on creating engaging content.

    When I say engaging content, you need to educate your audience entertaining them in the process. The first step towards creating engaging content is to understand your audience, knowing them will help them serve better. The point is people can hack into and buy followers, but engagement is something that is genuine and cannot be hacked.

  2. Social media reach
    In a world that is undergoing digitisation in almost every aspect, the influence of social media has proliferated in our lives. Understanding the social media reach of a campaign helps in understanding the context of the content written and the impact it can create on social media. It also helps in understanding the algorithm of social media platforms and create a campaign that is in sync with them. Calculating the social media reach also helps in understanding the audience and the rate at which they are growing.
  3. Sales statistics
    When the budget dries up for online marketing, you won’t have the option for giving paid online ads but if you had a well-featured article that ran on a major publishing house, you continue to rake in the goodwill.
    PR may not be directly related to sales, but good PR leads to better brand building, better brand building, in turn, leads to good lead generation, and excellent lead generation, in turn, leads to better sales.  In fact, if a well-executed PR campaign shows zero impact on sales, you need to review your PR and marketing strategy and evaluate what went wrong. Two factors need to be considered when you evaluate sales for a PR campaign, and they are:- Timeframe – Mark a time frame during an ongoing PR campaign in your PR and content marketing calendar and calculate the number of sales that happened in that particular period.  You can break the time frame into days, weeks, and months.Sales channel – When it comes to measuring sales, the channel through which sales happen is of utmost importance. Though omnichannel is the new trend, there are still many brands which operate in multi-channel. Break down the data of every single sales channel, and you can check if the sales are happening more through online platforms or offline retail platforms.
  4. Media impressions
    Media impressions is a common metric used by PR agencies to and measures the number of times people see your content or ad.  If a youtube video is watched more than three times by a particular person, the number of media impressions is three, similar is the case when it comes to a Facebook post or a tweet. The number of times a post is seen amount to the number of media impressions.
    The power of visibility can never be underestimated- Margaret Chu
    Media impressions help you in understanding the algorithm and working of a social media platform; it tells you the number of times your post could be seen on a social media platform. Though the general opinion is media impressions don’t make too much of an impact, but media impressions are quite useful when combined with other metrics and help in getting a clearer picture of the impact made through a particular PR campaign.
  5. Brand mentions
    “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about” — Oscar Wilde
    When a PR campaign is executed well, it leads to a rise in the number of times a brand was mentioned on guest blogs as well as different social media handles. Though the major problem is more than 90% of the people who talk about brands don’t do it on the respective social media handles of the particular brand rather a lot of talks is done on personal social media handles and forums like Reddit and Quora.
    So, it becomes really essential for brands to monitor all these discussions to understand the opinion of people as well as know the indirect impact a PR campaign had on the visibility of their brand.
    Monitoring brand mentions on different forums help in finding digital ambassadors of your product or service who can be used to amplify the reach of a PR campaign. When you map the brand mentions you are getting from different social media handles, it helps you in building better relationships and in turn gives you a gateway to approach them every time you have a content piece that needs to be reached out to a maximum number of people.
  6. Website traffic
    Website traffic is a significant metric to understand the impact of a PR campaign. Moreover, website traffic helps in evaluating various demographics of traffic, be it location, time, or age of the audience and these demographics in return help in assessing if the PR campaign is reaching its target audience or not.

    PR boosts web traffic through published media, and it has a significant impact on organic search rankings as well. Published media helps in earning brand mentions on social media, and if the publications have the link of your website, it automatically leads to visitors from the content source. When you track the traffic of your site, check the sources from where the traffic is being generated. It will give you a better understanding of publications that are generating better traffic for you.

These six metrics when analysed give us a clear picture of how relevant data is in determining the importance of PR. Data analysis is interesting, and the possibilities are many. For PR professionals, data is more than just the number of hits your content piece gets. Its importance goes beyond that. Data gives you the power of analysis and analysis gives you great insights. These insights help you come up with better ideas, leading to better campaigns.

Digital era thrives on data, and it is high time PR professionals understand the importance of data.  Whatever a PR does, be it communicating or public relations, it is a data-driven job. And for a PR professional to be right in their field, they need to be good with numbers.

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