I recently hosted our inaugural Signal AI Exec Connect breakfast event at the Duck and Waffle. Despite having a fear of heights (40 floors with a glass lift) and being a vegan, the event was a real success. The subject, you may have guessed by now, was measurement of PR and Comms and it seemed fitting to write a few words about what we discussed and what I took away from the event.
I was lucky enough to be joined by Joe McMann at Virgin Media O2. I’ve worked with Joe for the last three years, helping to develop a measurement framework based on quality of coverage over quantity. This is integral to my thinking around measurement and is linked to my last blog and product demo session in early April. The need to keep doing more can be detrimental to the objectives of PR and Comms and can lead to some bad behaviour.
The breakfast was a great opportunity to share our grievances, discuss methodologies and share successes. Here are a few of the key takeaways:
This was a key area of the feedback. The people who joined us are continually fighting the PR battle within their companies. Fighting against media echo chambers that cause misconceptions. This must get boring really quickly so to discuss it amongst other Comms professionals and to share thoughts and ideas on measurement was cathartic.
A few people mentioned that they didn’t feel sophisticated in their measurement. However, when they started discussing measurement it was obvious that they were more sophisticated than they originally thought. There is a lot of imposter syndrome in measurement as sometimes the industry has made it too complex and academic.
If you want to make a mark in the new world of PR, get to grips with and understand data. I’ve been saying for a while now that this should form part of the education process within PR. The proliferation of data is an opportunity for ambitious people in PR. I work with people every day who are progressing through the ranks in their company by learning how to interrogate and interpret large data sets. Data is at the heart of what Signal AI offers, both at the start of the process and the interpretation stage.
I’ve always been a bit cynical about reach as I’ve never been a fan of big numbers as they can be misleading. One of the participants worked within a more B2B role where reach (relatively small numbers in this instance) was a key metric. I can understand that, there is a limit to the audience, and reach in this respect can give you an idea of how much of that audience has had the opportunity to see your coverage.
This is a long way from how I have seen reach used before. I was at an Agency pitch once where the reach figure of 140 million was displayed with the accompanying text ‘This means that every adult in the UK has seen your coverage 4 times’. This is why reach has been devalued but it can be used as an indicator of success or within a combination of metrics.
Having the data to support a quality over quantity strategy is key. As mentioned earlier, a lot of companies will work within an echo chamber and the PR team will be under pressure based on outside influences. Apparently some of these outside influences include the CEO’s significant other and what they have been reading! Measurement can provide context to help inform the business about what is happening, how important it is and how the business should react.