By Nick Lyon, Senior Account Executive, Corporate
When I decided on a career in the communication industry, I thought I was done with maths. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping numbers and data, even in public relations.
As technology continues to improve and allows us to track more and more information, our ability to analyse and draw insights from this data is more important than ever.
We’ve never had access to more data than we do right now, and that gives us, as communication professionals, power to greatly refine the way we communicate with our audiences.
We have at our disposal an array of tools to track and analyse more information than we know what to do with. Everything from simple Excel spreadsheets to Google Analytics can provide insights into the performance of our campaigns and programs, giving us often an immediate understanding of what worked and what can be improved next time.
This growth of research and analytics tools has allowed us to get a far deeper understanding of our target audience and tailor our approach to reach them via the content and channels that will resonate with them.
On top of this, we’re also able to create campaigns that can be targeted right down to specific audience segments, whether that’s mothers with a passion for fitness in South Melbourne, or males aged 24-35 who work in the technology sector. All this data is at our fingertips, and our role as communication professionals is to harness it. For example, we’ve managed to grow the Australian Foundation Investment Company’s followers by more than five times on LinkedIn through highly targeted campaigns, allowing us to reach a broader audience that we know will be interested in AFIC’s content.
Another important part of this data boom is the ability to more accurately measure and assess the success of our media initiatives, and use these insights to further refine our outreach.
The challenge for the public relations industry as a whole is how we show our value and provide a clearer understanding of how we impact the bottom line. The good news is it’s becoming easier as audiences move online.
Digital channels allow for far greater tracking ability, through engagement measurements and trackable links, however we are now also able to better measure awareness through a couple of Google tools; Google Analytics and Google Keyword Planner. Analytics lets you track website traffic which can be attributed to key media coverage, while Keyword Planner is a tool within Google AdWords that allows you to measure search volumes to see how coverage is impacting people searching for your brand. One way we use these tools is to measure web and search traffic for Hewison Private Wealth to see whether articles appearing in financial industry media or mainstream wealth sections are more effective in raising their profile, and develop content to align with these insights.
When combined with improved measurement capabilities, like our Buchan Overall Media Score (BOMS), it helps provide a more holistic view of how communication tactics are benefiting a brand.
As the media landscape continues to shrink and fragment, it will continue to be more and more important for communication professionals to harness the power of data to better refine their campaigns.
There’s a reason your teachers at school told you to pay attention in maths class.