When it comes to marketing analysis, public relations has been known for output—media relationships developed, placements gained, awareness garnered, and perceptions changed. In-depth analysis and measurement of the outcomes of this output is a fairly new practice. Thus, standards around this measurement are still in development.
With guidelines still being agreed upon, when a PR professional views data about the results of their work for the first time and the data does not show what they expected, many do not accept that data as true. This is due to an unconscious bias.
In this post, I want to explain why, even if what you see or learn is not what you expected, having data about public relations efforts is always valuable. The following are examples of potential reactions and how to check their effect on your use of PR data.
PR DATA BIAS 1: THIS DOESN’T MAKE ME LOOK GOOD
After reviewing data about the results of PR efforts, many are surprised by comparisons such as share of voice. No matter the reason for this surprise, the fact that you may feel this way means that the information is novel and that you are learning something. These should be a part of your goals. When you feel surprised or impressed, the data that caused that reaction is worth investigating further and analyzing.
PR DATA BIAS 2: THE LARGEST EFFORT IS NOT SHOWING THE STRONGEST RESULTS
It gets really exciting when you can see the amounts of website traffic that result from PR efforts! But in analyzing this data, you may find that smaller publications or placements that were garnered in a shorter timeline happen to drive more traffic than more arduous content. Again, this is a key lesson. It is likely that you may find that a fraction of your outputs drive the majority of your outcomes. That is OK. Use that knowledge to better align and direct future output.
PR DATA BIAS 3: THIS DATA DOESN’T HELP PROVE ANYTHING
Before you begin data review and analysis, you should of course decide what to focus on. This seems easy to remember, but it is hard not to get sidetracked when there are 4,625,397 data points and you’re seeing spikes and dips in eye-catching data visualizations. After focusing on what is most important, let the data be your proof! Allow the facts to show you where the insights are, and to decide what you plan to do as a result. If you begin this process with preconceived results you may be missing key signals.
It definitely takes more than just numbers to see the whole picture, and hopefully I’ve convinced you of the importance of using data and the opportunities it provides. Beyond a count of output levels and subjective commentary on the amount of work involved to reach them, using the vast data that can be made available to public relations teams and their partners can both unearth lessons for future strategy development, and provide data that may be used to create a cyclical process of analysis.