What are the current trends in PR monitoring? Tobias Hedström offers his expertise on the subject.
1. Social media
It comes as no surprise when one points out that social media continues to be a strong trend. There are two aspects here that are of particular interest: the first one is that deep down, social media is just another media channel. It is still individual people who tell stories about companies and brands. The recipient of the message is also human – so, in this way we operate pretty much the same way as we have done over the last hundreds of years. The second interesting aspect is that social media channels have brought with them a wealth of new ways to measure performance, as well as new data to utilize in order to come up with better insights about the results of our PR actions. On the other hand, one major restriction are the policies adopted by different social media channels when it comes to the availability of data.
2. Clear objectives
One can well question if there are any organizations which do not have clear objectives defined for their operations these days, but surprisingly few actors evaluate themselves in a functioning manner towards concrete goals. However, and even if the change is taking place slowly, we have witnessed over a longer period of time that more and more organizations take on this kind of evaluation. The change is closely connected with the professionalism that we have seen in the industry in the last ten years.
3. From output to outcome
Media analysis takes its central tenets from the so-called Barcelona principles. According to these principles, a general consensus prevails that we should move from measuring outputs to measuring outcome. This means, for instance, less emphasis on intermediate goals such as measuring the number of articles and their reach, and more emphasis on finding out what kind of an impact PR activity has on attitudes towards a given organization, or how PR activity has affected the sales of an organization. One key challenge here is again data: to find out the impact of media coverage on actual sales, an agency performing media analysis for its client does need access to the client’s sales data.
4. Integrated measurement
PR does not exist in a vacuum. More and more organizations realize that their other activities, such as paid advertising and owned media also have an impact on earned editorial media coverage. There is a trend towards coordinating different media channels so that they would support each other. Evaluation of different PR activities must also happen simultaneously so that optimal interaction between activities can be reached.
5. Monitoring of target groups
This trend has also been in place for a longer time already, but the change is happening slowly. For many years now, companies have followed up and evaluated their bought advertising towards specific target groups. This is easy to do also when it comes to earned publicity. Information departments of companies stand to gain large profits from knowing how their different target groups consume media.
6. Wider operating environment
In the same manner as PR operates together with other marketing communications functions inside an organization, earned media publicity cannot be isolated from the rest of the world either. For instance, what is the general economic situation like? How does the publicity around refugee crisis look like? And the leakage of Panama documents: this has a negative impact on the whole financial sector, not only the companies mentioned in the Panama papers.