AJ co-founded TrendKite in 2012 and oversees all aspects of the organization’s sales operations.
Let me first apologize if you are not a fan of the world of Harry Potter and are unfamiliar with the term “Muggle.” Here’s how Wikipedia defines it (yes, there is a Wikipedia page for Muggle), “In the Harry Potter book series, a muggle is a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born into the magical world.” And, oh, PR is a magical world. Just like the poor muggles of Harry Potter, those who are not versed in the nuances, vocabulary and sometimes dark arts of this world can feel overwhelmed and confused in the presence of practitioners. Conversations about the success of PR efforts can be frustrating for outsiders and wizards PR professionals as well. We get out of practice at explaining concepts that we understand in a way that is comprehensible for those without our special background. This post looks at a few PR analytics in particular and helps to lay out how to explain what they mean to someone as familiar with PR as Harry’s aunt.
It is probably useful to start your PR analytics conversation by describing the various media types and providing examples of each. We find that examples are critical when sharing concepts with the uninitiated.
- Owned media - Owned media are the communication channels what we directly control. The most obvious examples are your own website, blog, social networking channels and email.
- Paid media – This is usually called “advertising.” Today it includes things like Google Ad-words, paid placement on product portals, display banners, inclusion in sponsored event materials and newsletter advertising.
- Earned media – Earned media consists of mentions that are not self-generated or paid for. It includes mentions by traditional journalists, as well as bloggers, social media commentators, and product reviewers. A mention of your product on CNN, for example, would be earned media as would a tweet from Guy Kawasaki.
It is important to explain to your muggle friend the very different impact of each of these media types. This may be basic to PR professionals, but others may not know that earned media is far more likely to result in customer action than any other channel. In fact, a Nielsen study last year found that earned media is the most trusted source of information in every country it surveyed.
Share of Voice
“Share of Voice” is one of those terms that we may assume everyone understands because the words are pretty descriptive. But not everyone immediately appreciates the value of understanding the percentage of all online content and discussions about your company, compared with those of your competitors across earned media, online reviews, advertising, SEO and social media. You must explain that knowing where you stand in each area is helpful in determining the amount of effort and investment that will be necessary in that channel to best your foes. It is also important, when discussing share of voice to emphasize the importance of qualitative assessment in terms of the value of each mention and the tone of the conversation. Explain carefully that share of voice helps you make sure your company is present in essential conversations.
For example, if your company is a CRM provider and Wired does a story on the most innovative CRM solutions and you aren’t included, you’ve missed an opportunity to be part of that conversation and might target the reporter or publication with outreach about your recent innovations. In other words, your competitor’s successful earned media can help you identify your next targets.
You might be including sentiment in your PR analytics, but be careful. Without any context, it can be confusing for those outside of the PR realm. It is important to lay the foundation that sentiment refers to an analysis of the percentage of positive, negative and neutral tones in online conversations. You should also explain that understanding sentiment is a good way to keep track of how customers, influencers, writers and other members of the public perceive your brand. It can clue you into problems early so that you can engage, and hopefully turn, detractors.
Once you’ve explained these important concepts to fellow business leaders or clients, they will have a bedrock understanding of the importance of PR analytics, as well as the difficulties associated with obtaining them and will have a much easier time investing in supportive services and technology. Take the time to patiently share what you know. Because, as Albus Dumbledor explained to Harry Potter, “Happiness can be found …, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”