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In a perfect world, you’d be the only brand trying to get the attention of your audience and media contacts. The coverage would be all about you, all the time. But alas, we do not live in such a world. In the real world there are competitors out there working just as hard as you are to shine the spotlight on them. If you want attention, you’re going to have to fight for it. Benchmarking your competitor’s PR performance is a great way to get to know their strengths and weaknesses and gauge your own relative success.
Establish a Baseline
If you haven’t done competitive PR benchmarking before or if you are entering a new market, developing a baseline for the competition is the first step. Of course, first you have to choose which competitors to include. We recommend thinking broadly about who your competitors are when it comes to PR. Some may be companies that offer a similar product, but they should include anyone who wants the attention of the same audience. Once you know who you want to benchmark, you should determine which metrics you will track. A few good choices are article volume, reach, and sentiment. Beyond just the numbers, assess the quality of your competitor’s coverage and to the extent you can, look at the outcomes.
Set Your Goals
With the competitive landscape mapped out, you can determine your own objectives. Do you want to attack your competitors where they are strongest to take them down a notch, or are there weak areas that you might be able to exploit? Which outcome based measurements will you use to track your own effectiveness against your competitors? Search engine rank is an obvious area to consider, along with website traffic.
Competitive benchmarking isn’t something you do once. You’ll want to look at the trends over the long term. It is important to notice when there is a change of sentiment related to your competitors and understand what happened to cause it. If your share of voice experiences a lull or a spike, additional analysis is needed to develop a strategy to capitalize on good trends or reverse bad ones.
In short, we love competitive benchmarking because we love learning from our competitors as much as we love beating them. If you listen intently (and with the right technology) your competitors will help you craft your strategy whether they want to or not.