The world of data and measurement in PR is consistently a mixed bag. In a perfect world, organizations would have a useful bounty of accurate data and insights. Unfortunately, many times this aspirational goal is unrealistic. The major downside to data-driven analytics right now is that people simply don’t trust the data.

According to recent (2017) studies by MIT, Cal Berkeley, and Northwestern University, technology alone, including artificial intelligence (AI), is not even close to delivering the needed insights. It’s going to take some hefty shifts to gain the right information along with the industry’s trust. According to a recent survey by PRNews, over 60% of communications professionals are asked by their CEO and executive boards for data-driven analysis and metrics. Gone are the days of measurement simply to prove one’s worth – measurement is now necessary as organizations look to tie efficacy of campaigns and broader business goals.

While it’s great that executives and board members are seeing the value that strategic data and intelligence can bring to their business, more than 75% of communicators found the data to be unreliable. This number is staggering considering that both communicators and executives all desire media analysis to drive both reactive and proactive strategies.

So what do you do when the data just isn’t up to par? When practitioners are wasting time cleaning up data to figure out what insights can be derived? Here are some things that communicators can do now to take steps toward this ultimate data utopia.

Be Your Own Advocate

55% of communicators use media analysis to drive both reactive and proactive strategies…BUT only if they can trust it. It’s essential to prove to board members and business leaders that smart communications data is in fact available and deserves a seat at the table. Mapping results to business goals is the best way to advocate for a strong measurement function.

Historically, the data executives saw wasn’t smart, helpful or insightful. In fact it was rather surface level including things like mentions, reach and impressions. Today we have copious amounts of relevant, helpful and strategic data at our fingertips that should be used to inform business strategy. Communicators don’t need to use data to prove worth and ensure job security anymore; they can instead turn it into something useful and become a strategic partner to the business.

Implement Efficiency

Nearly 40% of communicators find it difficult to understand the media data they receive and are spending way too much time hunting for insights instead of developing strategic campaigns. In fact, 69% of communicators said they’d rather spend time building strategic messaging plans and 65% said they’d prefer to put more effort into pitching or focusing on influencer outreach rather than media analysis. Basic metrics aren’t helpful, and automated tools aren’t enough to add enough valuable context to business leaders. Operating efficiently is paramount.

It’s essential to know that you don’t need to go overboard on measurement, especially when you clearly understand your business goals. In both cases of B2C and B2B – it’s the context and not the counts that are going to move the needle.

Similarly, we often see sarcasm used on social media and even in traditional media which can be easily misinterpreted when looking at tone. This can be as challenging to detect as contextualizing a positive statement about you in an otherwise negatively-toned article. Analysts expertly trained at picking up these nuances are extremely efficient and accurate, giving you back time for more strategic endeavors.

Gain More Insight

Over 60% of communicators would like media intelligence to be more “insightful.” Now that is an aspirational concept that could mean different things for every business, but in reality it goes deeper than surface level measurement.

Say goodbye to content overload. In today’s media landscape, business leaders would much rather have fewer pieces of very insightful data, than a mass amount of media coverage without much context.

Now to obtain this data can provide insight into share of voice and how companies are doing against the competitors, digging into sentiment for brand and reputation drivers, and also looking at how your organization is perceived on social media. Communicators need to illustrate how corporate social responsibility efforts are progressing along with sentiment at conferences and trade shows. At the end of the day, this is the type of aspirational data that is going to put businesses ahead of the competition.

As it stands, there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way communicators generate trustworthy media intelligence. With CEOs and boards demanding data driven analytics to help make decisions, communicators need to take the next step with their analytics solutions. The industry needs to rise to the measurement challenge so the information they are delivering is insightful, reliable and exceeding expectations.

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