PRCA Data Literacy In Public Relations report – A guide to using data to inform strategy and decision making 

As one of the founding members of the PRCA Innovation Forum, we were pleased to be invited to once again collaborate with fellow industry professionals on a report looking at data literacy in public relations, the opportunities it creates and best practice examples.

The report, featuring contributions from a range of industry experts, explores the use of data in public relations and ways it can be used to inform strategy, decision-making, creativity, content, execution, and measurement. It covers a range of topics such as how data can be used to inform PR strategy, what numbers matter the most during evaluation, and as part of our contribution, how to design and utilise a listening and measurement strategy.

The following blog aims to outline Sensu’s contribution to the report, and provide an idea of the insightful information found in the full report. This includes an in-depth look into how businesses can create a listening and measurement strategy, and the best methods of public listening to inform and improve those strategies.

Creating a Listening and Measurement Strategy

The first part of our contribution to the report (written alongside Orla Graham) offers a framework for setting measurable objectives, aligned with wider business goals, for public relations activity. It also covers different types of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and what they can tell a brand, such as reputation and commercial metrics.

Organisational objectives are critical for this, and successful brands will continuously refer back to these when measuring performance. These objectives are not just relevant to a listening and measurement strategy, but communications in general and are often overlooked by PR teams.When it comes to identifying key metrics and performance markers in line with these objectives, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by an avalanche of data, which is where the See, Think, Do model can be helpful.

See, Think, Do essentially means you want the right people to see your message in media; you want them to think a certain way after seeing it; and you want them to do a certain thing as a result. This model ensures that all the right areas of measurement are being considered, and fall in line with the KPIs the organisation is looking to track.

These are;

  • Allocate a budget proportionate to need
  • Make KPIs relevant to the organisation’s objectives
  • Effectiveness KPIs, or outputs, such as revenue growth, return on investment, customer conversions etc.
  • Reputation KPIs, such as Share of Voice, customer sentiment, social media reach etc.

Full explorations into these steps and how to execute them into a design strategy can be found in the full report.

Identifying an audience and listening to the conversation

While the first part of our contribution looked at how to develop the listening strategy itself, this section provides organisations with an insight as to where the sources for data can be found.

The chapter within the report (co-authored Sophie Coley) focuses on how to develop different approaches to listening and understanding a public, such as surveys, social media and search metrics. It also explores how to filter the data to suit the need, such as through audience, content, sentiment, and behaviour.

Surveys remain the ‘gold standard’ to gain statistically robust measures on brand awareness, understanding and declarations of intent and allow you to pick specific demographic profiles or other backgrounds relevant to the campaign. However, surveys are only as reliable as the quality of which they’re formed and executed, meaning input from experienced research professionals is always advisable. 

Social media listening provides a wealth of data that often show the out-takes and outcomes that PRs are looking for. Engagement, emotional response, and areas of interest are all relevant metrics to consider when utilising social media listening. Tracking changes, trends, and patterns can be instrumental for product or brand launches, and it can also allow for attribution to specific responses to announcements or events. The data can also be filtered similarly to surveys, such as age, gender, ethnicity etc. It’s a great tool for understanding brand sentiment and understanding opinions and reactions to brand and employer activity.

Finally, there’s search data. It’s estimated that around 5.6 billion Google searches are performed worldwide every day. Despite this, search data is often overlooked as a source of consumer insight. Online SEO tools, keyword planners and other tools, such as Google Trends and AnswerThePublic, can be incredibly useful in measuring brand awareness, as well as how often the brand is being searched or talked about online. This data can be invaluable in measuring the success of campaigns and the out-takes and outcomes from PR activity.  

Further exploration and examples of all of these listening approaches can be found within the full report. Download your free copy of Data Literacy In PR here

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Steve Leigh
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