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PR Trends and How to Stay in the Know!

Blog: Impact Analytics

9/24/2014
— Sanjukta Dutt 

Last week marked the first International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) Measurement Week, a worldwide campaign that underscores the fact that PR measurement is now firmly on the agenda of PR practitioners and encourages the industry to adopt standardized measurement practices. In the spirit of this initiative towards fostering greater awareness and expertise in PR analytics, here are some recent trends and associated blogs that can help PR professionals stay abreast of the latest developments in PR analytics and evaluation.

The March to Standards: The primary trend in PR measurement today is the move to the creation of standardized measures for PR activities that would allow comparative measures for all stages of the PR process, from outputs (contact/response level) to outcomes (perceptions/behavioral level) to outtakes (business results). This encompasses support of the Barcelona Principles and adoption of standards already in place in areas of traditional and social media measurement, communications lifecycle and return on investment created by the Coalition for Public Relations Research Standards. PR practitioners have historically used measures of basic communications output, especially for media relations, such as clips, coverage and potential audience, which are largely inadequate in analyzing business impact. Many have leaned on advertising value equivalency (AVE) which has very little to do with the value of a communications campaign. As a member of The Coalition, Paine Publishing drives research in this area under the leadership of its founder Katie Paine, renowned measurement veteran for more than two decades. I highly recommend Katie Paine’s Measurement Blog to stay abreast of the latest in areas of measurement standards, techniques and developments in the world of PR research and evaluation. Salience Insight’s The Measurement Standard is another valuable resource to glean insights on how to improve and standardize measurement strategies.

Standards for Social Media measurement: One of the core tenets of the Barcelona principles is “social media can and should be measured.” Standards on measuring social influence, sentiment, and engagement are constantly evolving. Additionally, with hundreds of service providers who offer secret sauces and black-box solutions, a PR practitioner needs to assess whether the social results offered approximate reality. Shonali Burke’sWaxing Unlyrical blog and monthly Twitter chat #measurePR focus on social media in PR, and are good resources to learn about evolving standards and techniques in social media measurement, units of content and definitions of terms.

Web Analytics for PR: As communications strategies become increasingly focused on the digital landscape, it also becomes important to measure actual user behavior and optimize PR campaigns to get the best outcomes. The Occam’s Razor blog by Avinash Kaushik has dozens of detailed posts on every aspect of web analytics and digital marketing. The blog covers qualitative analysis, competitive intelligence analysis, web metrics and more. Daniel Waisberg’s Online Behavior blog is another worthwhile resource for detailed web analytics and optimization information.

Big Data (first wave), Small Data (second wave): The analysis of big data is critical to effective public relations as consumers increasingly look up businesses online, read reviews, tweet about products and crowd source their experience with brands, creating nearly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. Big data seeks to correlate a variety of data streams to uncover opportunities for better business decision-making. For example, there are vast opportunities to incorporate big data in the areas of product development, crisis communications and customer service, which may not have been identified in the past through traditional means. Also, big data serves to provide a multidimensional perspective that can help PR translate company claims and brand attributes into the kinds of facts that warrant press coverage. However, communication experts observe that this first wave marked by automation is sometimes too literal to uncover context or to recognize human intentions. Emergence of the second wave is characterized by human understanding and insights guiding the speed and consistency of automation; in other words, the second wave is characterized by ‘small data’ driving ‘big data.’ While not directly focused on PR,TechRepublic and The Forrester big data blogs can help you stay in the know of the latest trends in big data analytics.

Data Visualization: As PR analytics gears up to speak the language of the C-suite, it becomes increasingly important to parse information into visually effective representations to convey insights. Recently at an External Speaker Creative Series at Waggener Edstrom, Mike Pell, Sr. Experience Designer at Microsoft, elucidated on how “data is not an insight – data helps inform insight.” In the age of data overload, buzzwords like ‘big data’ and ‘data visualization’ will become more important to communications strategies as more information is gathered on a daily basis for PR activities. Check out these great blogs for data visualization ideas in reporting business outcomes:Flowing DataInformation Is Beautiful and Tableau blog.

What are some other analytics blogs that you have bookmarked?

Image: AMEC Measurement Week, NYC. Left to right, moderator Peter Himler (founder, Flatiron Communications) and panelists Heidi Sullivan (SVP of digital content, Cision), Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer (CEO, AirPR), Shonali Burke (CEO, Shonali Burke Consulting) and Chris Penn (VP of marketing technologies, Shift Communications).

CC Image courtesy of Vocus on Flickr  

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