Use your brain to measure PR results

The technology age has done wonderous things for us as a society. I still think it’s amazing when I can log onto the Internet on an airplane, quickly snap and email a picture to someone using my phone and connect with my satellite television via my iPad.

But for all of the advancements we’ve made in technology, I’m happy to report, the human brain is still irreplaceable.

In the marketing world, there are lots of tools available to you now to help quantify and qualify mentions of your brand (either online mentions or offline in the form of newspaper, television or radio coverage).

Companies like Radian 6, Critical Mention, Burrelles Luce, Cision and Vocus (to name a few) tout the benefits of their various technologies to help you manage your brand mentions faster, better, more effectively. (Full disclosure: we use services like Burrelles Luce, Cision and Metro Monitor). 

If you just watch the demos, you might even fall to the conclusion that you don’t even have to lift a finger once you start using one of these services because it will do it all for you. You can just sit back, relax, and wait for the computer to do your job.

Wrong. Well, partly wrong. I’m not here to say that mention-gathering resources aren’t valuable. They are. But if you think plugging in some search terms and then sitting back to wait for the computer to do the work for you is the way to go, you’re going to end up with a lot of really incorrect data.

Why? Because the computer isn’t you. It might find the search term you told it to find for you and put it into the bucket labeled with that term. But upon closer review, you find that while yes, the search term was indeed included, the article was actually about something completely different. It may not have been the key message you were hoping for, or it might’ve been about an entirely different topic from what the search term was intended. The computer wouldn’t know that. You would.

My advice is to use the mention collection services for what they can do for you: gather large amounts of content quickly and serve as a starting point of your analysis. But then go back through that content with a fine-tooth comb to analyze what it means for you and your brand. Come up with a measuring stick that works for your brand’s bottom line. And then compare the mentions against that to see if you hit (or missed) the mark.

It can be time consuming and laborious, sure. But would you rather take more time to have a report that actually means something to your company, or pages filled with meaningless, inflated data?

We often have clients come to us for advice on how to help them better measure what’s being said about them. They may be using tools like Burrelles Luce or other sources but have never had the time to be able to actually sort through the material to see if the messages they’re trying to communicate are hitting the mark. That’s where we come in. We sit down with hundreds – sometimes thousands – of pieces of content and look at them one by one until each one is in the right place. That’s when we can show the client whether or not the message they shared is engaging the right people.

It’s tempting sometimes to want to buy into the notion that a computer can automate everything and make your life easier. But when it comes to measuring your PR results, take the time and use your brain to qualify the messages you’re sharing. Only then will you truly be able to know whether or not your efforts are impacting your business’s bottom line.

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About Liza Jones

Helping brands strategically tell their stories. Follow me on Twitter @LizaPJones.

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