Can technology provide more accurate analysis than humans?

A PublicRelay Partnership with MIT finds that the answer is no.

A study that set human media analysis head-to-head with MIT’s natural language technology processors found that automated solution only had:

  • 9% accuracy on detecting key message presence
  • 20% accuracy on allocating the correct sentiment
  • 33% accuracy on highlighting the precise experience of the customer 


Social media analysis is one of the fastest-growing areas of text analytics.

For efficiency and economical reasons, most media analytics providers in the space rely on automated technology to extract emotion and sentiment.  But can technology actually provide more accurate text analysis than a human?

In collaboration with Toyota Motor NA Energy & Environmental Research Group, PublicRelay and the intelligent minds at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Analytics Lab set out to find an answer.

The Project

Over the course of three months, the MIT Analytics Lab team tested various technologies to:

  • Understand which topics car enthusiasts are discussing in relation to alternate-fuel vehicles on Twitter
  • Identify “significant” tweets based on topic inference from above.

The goal was to identify tweets that demand further tracking or direct engagement, and formulate messaging that Toyota might use to drive social media conversations themselves.

The Technology

  • MIT built two different modeling approaches to interpret the data– Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) and a Biterm Topic Model (BTM).
  • For both processes, the MIT team indicated to the machines which words were topically important.
  • The processes would then clean up the tweet text by isolating only the most “important” words and analyze those for key messages, sentiment, and experience according to pre-set definitions.

The Results

  • The accuracy of the technological solution versus the human in three key measured attributes was only 9% (key message), 20% (sentiment), and 33% (experience).
  • While the technology may be useful in eliminating irrelevant posts before humans analyze them, the MIT team found that 80% of their machine-learning work was simply data clean-up — the computer algorithms had a hard time deciphering commonly used symbols in on Twitter, like @, #, and even text emojis.
  • Lastly, the study showed how technology did not handle rapidly changing topics well:
    • Analysis over a short time frame fails to detect the quickly‐dissipating influence of one‐off news events and crises.
    • Rapidly emerging issues or breaking news such as the Tesla autopilot crash were slow to be reflected in a model.

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PR attribution

The Client

Our client is a U.S. humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance and disaster relief, including volunteer support, blood donation, and fundraising.

The Challenge

In 2020, the organization tasked its communications team with a tangible business goal: to boost the organization’s total fiscal fundraising and blood collection over four months.

For this to work, the team needed to implement a strategy for:

  1. Affecting growth in fundraising and blood collection using earned media, and 
  2. Demonstrating their role in achieving the results.

Our Solution

The communications team turned to PublicRelay for a data-backed PR attribution strategy to:

  1. Demonstrate their impact on engagement – the audience behavior most often associated with increased donations. In other words, the team wanted their earned media coverage to facilitate increased interactions with the organization via their website, mobile app, and volunteering.
  2. Establish their role in increasing brand credibility – the key dimension of brand health and reputation associated with audience engagement.
  3. Pinpoint the reputational drivers that contribute to concepts associated with brand credibility within their earned media coverage, thereby enabling them to focus their messaging on the drivers with the most impact.

Using PublicRelay’s human-augmented technology, the communications team received a highly accurate and nuanced analysis of the organization’s earned media coverage during the four-month period.

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When interpreted alongside the organization’s reputation survey results, measures of engagement, total fiscal fundraising, and blood donations, PublicRelay’s insights revealed that:

  • Earned media coverage in priority publications is positively correlated with improved brand credibility and increased engagement with the organization.
  • Engagement stemming from the organization’s earned media coverage can be directly attributed to increased fundraising during the period.
  • Though blood donations could not be directly tied to the organization’s earned media coverage in 100 priority publications, there is evidence to suggest that coverage in smaller local publications may have a greater influence on blood donations, performing 50x better than priority media on the blood services website.

With this approach, the communications team:

  1. Achieved their business goal of increasing total fundraising,
  2. Could present their CEO with data-backed evidence of their impact on the outcome, and
  3. Attained nuanced insight into their earned media strategy that they could apply to future campaigns.

Want to learn more about how PublicRelay’s PR attribution strategy can help your team connect your work to business results? Get in touch with our team at

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The Client

Founded in 1875, Prudential Financial has grown into a multinational financial services leader that now operates in over 40 countries. The Fortune 100 company specializes in insurance and investment management with a mission of helping its customers to grow and protect their wealth.

The Challenge

For years, the financial services industry has tried to reach affluent Black consumers by promoting CSR and DEI efforts.

It wasn’t working.

A study conducted over two years revealed a decline in brand health among Black Adults not just for Prudential, but across the entire financial services industry.

Company leaders suspected that different messages may resonate more with affluent Black consumers, but what were they? And how could their PR team develop a data-driven strategy for reaching Black audiences going forward?

Our Solution

Prudential’s PR team decided to use PublicRelay’s PR attribution strategy to generate insights from the company’s earned media coverage that would:

  • Uncover the themes and messages that have the greatest impact on brand perceptions among affluent Black Adults,
  • Connect the dots between their work, their earned media coverage, and changes in brand health among affluent Black audiences, and
  • Develop a framework for developing data-driven approaches to reaching specific audiences in the future.
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Trust emerged as the aspect of brand health that mattered most in Black Adults’ decision to become customers of a financial services company.

And, it turns out the company leaders were right: Trust among affluent Black consumers was less impacted by CSR and DEI and more affected by companies’ business performance and thought leadership coverage.

The findings revealed that, while Citizenship and CSR coverage could improve Favorability among highly invested Black Adults, it does not translate into Trust for that group. Research coverage, on the other hand, correlated with Trust for both high-income and lower-income Black Adults.

With these insights, the PR team was able to intelligently pivot its strategy and maximize the impact of its initiative to target Black audiences.

Want to learn more about how PublicRelay’s PR attribution strategy can help your team focus your messaging? Get in touch with our team at

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The Client

Founded more than 50 years ago, our client is an international fast-food chain with a significant global presence. The restaurant company is on a mission to provide customers with fast, healthy, made-to-order meals.

The Challenge

In 2021, the company was hit by coverage in a premiere publication followed by a national lawsuit that criticized the quality of its ingredients.

Both instances generated significant press coverage and internal stakeholders expressed their concerns over whether the communications team was doing enough to tackle the negative articles published.

The communications team needed a solution rooted in data that could achieve two things:

  1. Help them to determine which articles covering the story required a response, and
  2. Enable them to justify their strategy to their C-suite and other internal stakeholders.

Our Solution

The communications team decided to use PublicRelay’s Predictive Alerts tool to flag articles mentioning the lawsuit that had a high probability of going viral (i.e., generating significant social sharing).

As new stories were published, PublicRelay provided the team with viral probability percentages for any negative coverage in near-real-time.

The team was notified of articles likely to go viral once they reached a certain threshold of social sharing set by the communications team, allowing them to respond before the story spread.

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PublicRelay’s predictive solution indicated that the majority of relevant stories had a less than 2% chance of going viral.

Using Predictive Alerts allowed the team to focus their efforts on responding to the stories that mattered and ensure that all the stories being shared included their official statement. In doing so, the team was also able to ignore other, low-priority negative coverage, and avoid stoking any unnecessary fires by responding to coverage that wouldn’t otherwise gain traction.

Ultimately, the communications team succeeded in calming the company’s internal stakeholders during the media crisis by demonstrating that, though the lawsuit was receiving negative coverage, only a few of these stories were actually discussed. Further, the team was able to justify their data-backed approach to responding to the crisis.

The communications team has now incorporated PublicRelay’s Predictive Alerts into their crisis playbook, preparing them to respond meaningfully to PR crises going forward.

Want to learn more about how PublicRelay’s Predictive Alerts can support your team through a communications crisis? Get in touch with our team at

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Challenge: Update an Out of Date Brand Image

A leading consumer advocacy group needed to rebrand itself. Everything about their market had changed dramatically – new competitors had appeared, their mode of publication was becoming dated, and their brand name was associated with this dated perception.  Their competitors offered similar, yet less accurate, information for free. Their significant history as a print publication indicated that their current demographic was aging, and they needed to attract younger members. In other words, they needed to adapt to survive.

In order to tackle the issue of rebranding as a trusted source for consumer research for all demographics, they needed a clear picture of the current state of the perception of their brand. However, they ran into a problem when it came to measuring the impact of their earned media.

The group produces a large quantity of owned media for their members and affiliate websites. Their earned thought leadership was picked up and respected, but their efforts at reporting on that impact lacked precision. Previous monitoring tools worked best for brand mentions, not topics, so they primarily found their own content rather than earned media articles. Without an accurate analysis of which outlets trusted and shared their research, they couldn’t pitch new ones, and without new outlets, they had no hope of updating their audience demographic. 

A compounding factor is that their media coverage spiked rapidly. Their thought leadership was mentioned heavily the day it came out, but was always the first thing cut out of news stories. As soon as they published a finding, they needed to immediately start tracking mentions. Any report that wasn’t created instantly and updated constantly would be borderline useless.

Solution: Accurate and Fast Analysis as Needed

The team chose the PublicRelay solution because it allows the group to cut through the noise of earned versus owned media easily. The group generates analysis around their current news story topics by focusing on third party mentions. Detailed demographic data is provided for each of those outlets and the team can also search for additional outlets to pitch based on similar demographic criteria. 

Their research topics are very broad, covering nearly all sectors of the consumer market. They use industry-specific tags for each article, giving them insights into which specific industries and the accompanying outlets that value their thought leadership research. With these benchmarks in place, they can create specific media outreach plans for each market segment.

With the granular nature of the analysis by topic, industry and demographic, they have access to an incredibly deep and specific set of insights. They are no longer hampered by noisy data clouded by their own articles, or by the fact that their brand does not get mentioned often as the brands noted in their research.

These reports are ready as soon as the group’s research is finished – before it is even published anywhere. As soon as the findings are made public, the reports begin measuring every single brand mention, creating accurate data for the group in near-real-time.

Result: Measuring a New Name, New Audiences, Increased Trust

The rebrand had three major components: launch a new brand name, reach new demographic audiences, and become the trusted source for consumer product research. Their new earned media measurement and analytics program enables the team to not only analyze the progress on each of these core components over time but also make more strategic tactical decisions along the way. 

First, to manage their name change, they set up a view that alerts them whenever their previous name is mentioned. They then contact the authors and outlets who referred to them incorrectly. Not only does this allow them to effectively supervise their name change, it also gives them access to reporters they may not have had reason to contact in the past. 

Second, to manage their demographic shift, they needed to see who they were reaching. The PublicRelay solution appends detailed demographic data to outlets so the media relations team can understand where they are hitting the mark and where they need to find additional outlets to target. For example, they published research relating to childcare. The research was picked up by a number of new outlets that reach an audience of millennials. Those outlets  have a relatively small audience and had not been on the team’s radar as it had been calibrated to audience size, one of the few data points they had access to previously. Now they can easily find all outlets with the demographics they need to reach.

Finally, armed with insights about how their earned media is impacting their brand perception, the group began focusing on sign ups to their paid service. By integrating their existing Adobe Analytics with the PublicRelay solution, they are now able to view a direct conversion pipeline. They can see where their thought leadership is mentioned and backlinked, see who clicks through to their site, and finally see if that person converts and signs up for a membership

Overall, the consumer advocacy group has access to a deeper level of data and insights than they ever had access to before. Modernizing their earned media measurement program has enabled them to modernize their brand. The teams are better informed about how their work is impacting the broader business goals and are continually optimizing their programs.

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Challenge: Communicating Effectively to Multiple Stakeholders

At a publicly traded utility company where most employees are engineers, financial analysts, and lawyers, there is added pressure for public relations professionals to concretely prove the value of what has previously been considered by many as a “soft profession.”

However, reporting on communications initiatives is extremely difficult when a team must keep track of and communicate with a variety of stakeholders with diverse interests. It is essential for communicators to address the concerns of all interested parties, including investors, regulators, customers, and executives. To do so effectively, they must stay ahead of media coverage as much as possible to influence Wall Street analysts’ recommendations, customers’ brand perception, and manage executives’ expectations.

Solution: Comprehensive Media Analysis in Near Real Time

A leading electric utility company wanted to adopt a data-driven communications strategy to improve the effectiveness of their messaging and measure their contribution to overall business goals. When a new SVP of Communications came aboard, he recognized the value in the strategy that his team wanted to implement and provided them with a hybrid media analysis solution that utilizes top of the line technology and human analysis. The solution gives the team accurate data and insights in near real time from traditional, broadcast, and social media that they use to drive messaging strategy as well as manage potential crises.

Result: Proactive Media Outreach

Positive public perception of the overall brand and corporate leadership are essential to the client because they are a publicly traded company with a guaranteed geographic territory. Daily media coverage in national and trade publications influences investor relations while local outlets influence customer opinion. This wide array of outlets adds a complex layer to the team’s strategy and it is vital that they ensure their brand messaging is present in coverage from all of them as it has a direct impact on corporate success.

The team uses data in every staff meeting to answer questions like, “How can we capitalize on this trending topic?” or “How can we course correct our strategy on this topic?” They use historical data to identify which authors and outlets typically write favorably about their company or the topics they care about so that they can build relationships with those authors and push their key messaging to the right audiences in both local and national media. This boosts reputation drivers, strengthening the company’s brand and contributing to overall business goals.

Result: Crisis Management and Prevention

When one tweet can turn into a full-blown crisis, comprehensive social, traditional, and broadcast media monitoring is essential and ensures the team never misses an important mention. Since customers now take to Twitter and Facebook to voice their complaints, the team uses near real time social media data to identify potential crises and address them as fast as possible.

They also rely on PublicRelay’s proprietary trending score to recognize when traditional coverage could become a crisis. Trending Scores are assigned to articles receiving shares on social media and indicate whether the sharing volume, channel relevance and significance are above or below their average. If a negative story is trending upward, the team strategizes and responds before the situation gets out of hand.

The client’s analyst often alerts the team to coverage spikes and trends as they occur. The team uses special reports on trending topics to combat critical coverage and inform crisis messaging. They then use historical data to determine which authors to push this messaging to in order to disseminate information as efficiently as possible.

The team’s focus on author influencing proved valuable when there was a safety concern at the company’s nuclear power plant. While this story could have easily spun out of control into a crisis situation, a journalist with whom the team had a good relationship covered the incident. The author reported fairly, accurately, and ultimately in favor of how the company handled the situation.

Result: Reliable Executive Reporting

Communicators know all too well that executives remember one bad story far longer than any amount of positive coverage. Quarterly and ad hoc reports ensure executives have an accurate view of their brand’s public perception from all interested parties- from Wall Street analysts to rural customers. These reports put negative coverage in context for executives. When the team shows at least four positive stories for every negative one, the negative coverage no longer seems as important. In Q3 2017, the team showed execs that positive key messaging was present in 66% of all coverage, supporting their strategy and demonstrating contribution to corporate success.

Analytics like these give the Communications team a seat at the table at an organization that places a premium on hard data and concrete outputs.

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Challenge: Tackling a Competitive and Complex Media Environment

When a booming cloud services company became one of the top ten players in its marketplace, it had to take steps to protect the ground it gained. Being blindsided by new competition is a constant threat in the technology world. Companies need to be wary of giants like Microsoft, Oracle, and Amazon suddenly entering your market.

Thankfully, media intelligence can provide a lifeline to critical competitive information. For this cloud provider, share of voice (SOV) translates directly to market share. As a result, the communications team was tasked with answering ‘Who’s covering our competition but not us?’, ‘How does our coverage stack up to competitors?’ and, most importantly, ‘Who are our competitors?

Accurate media measurement had been difficult for the team, as mentions were too vague for automated systems to categorize. For instance, the company tracks mentions of PaaS and SaaS cloud-based solutions, its competitors offer these plus other irrelevant cloud offerings, such as cloud data center services. To make matters worse, technology does not handle rapidly changing topics well – a crippling issue for a volatile industry.

Solution: Accurate, Multilayered Coverage of the Global Market

PublicRelay developed and deployed a multilayered media measurement program divided into three categories: brand analysis, country/region specific analysis, and product/division level analysis. This approach would help the tech company see the full scope of its communications operations and measure the interplay of metrics between the different levels of the organization.

Coverage is reported on a daily, bimonthly and quarterly basis to help the company dissect its impact on SOV across all its markets as well as at the industry level over time. Reports contain analysis of key industry topics, top industry mentions, spokesperson mentions, employee news pickups, and social media mentions of the company on Facebook and Twitter. The same analysis is done for its known competitors.

All this data is compiled into detailed SOV reports toned for sentiment and broken down into topics so that the company knows not only its SOV across different product divisions and whether the coverage was positive or negative, but also what key topics are driving the conversation. Competitors are monitored closely, to see how they are weighing in on key topics and if their SOV is growing – integral data for the communications team as it decides where to focus resources to influence market share. Through this multidimensional reporting, they can continuously pinpoint areas where their competitors are dominating, to revamp spokespeople strategies, media engagement campaigns and media events – or launch new initiatives altogether.

Key themes like AI, machine learning and cloud innovations, as well as an influencer publication hitlist from across the globe are tracked to ensure that the cloud services provider has an almost real-time, 360-view of the industry. This information, often analyzed from multiple language sources, allows the company to find coverage whitespace and thought leadership opportunities. Additionally, this is the best way to identify new competitors coming up in the scene. In fact, the company relies on PublicRelay to tell them who to track as competitors. The company can then agilely refine its competitive outlook and set new goals, as necessary.

Result: A Partnership that Drives Strategic Decisions Across All Levels of an Organization

By delivering timely and accurate insights, the communications team is viewed as a strategic partner to the business. It has a direct connection to the executive team who relies on them for intelligence about the complex, volatile and highly competitive market. The team is one of the company’s key lines of defense, ensuring that it will never be blindsided by competitors as it continues to grow its market share.

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Challenge: High Coverage Spikes

Publicly traded companies with multiple business units pose several major challenges to communications teams. With high volumes of coverage around each unit and several brand drivers to keep track of, it is difficult to understand message pull through and if the company is in control of its own reputation. Add high coverage spikes to this list of challenges and it is even more difficult to understand the success of a communications strategy. Despite this difficulty, proving the value of the communications department becomes even more essential at these companies, with both an executive team and board of directors to appease.

A leading business services company produces a regular study that receives a tremendous number of media mentions. A four-day coverage spike around the study’s release accounts for the clear majority of the company’s media mentions each month, as well as for the quarter. These mentions consist predominantly of statement of fact references, not brand messaging that the communications team drives.

The large amounts of coverage around the study posed a problem for the company. The team wanted to move their media measurement beyond keyword counts and potential impressions to enable a proactive communications strategy. However, with a media monitoring tool they could not cut through the massive number of mentions of the study to uncover the success of other earned media and strategic communications initiatives.

Transitioning to a Data-Driven Communications Approach

The company transitioned to a media intelligence solution that utilizes both top of the line technology and careful human analysis. With this solution, the company extracts coverage of the study from all other coverage and analyzes it separately. This allows the team to cut through the noise to understand where their strategy is working, as well as where they need to improve brand messaging and pull through, especially against competitors.

Measuring brand and reputation drivers is important to the team because the company as a whole is highly invested in furthering brand drivers like thought leadership. By pulling through thought leadership messaging around research that the company makes significant investments in, and increasing share of voice against competitors, the team contributes to the achievement of overarching company goals, demonstrating tangible value to the c-suite.

The organization relies on detailed media coverage insights to drive strategy around message pull through and share of voice. For example, the company uses data to determine which authors and outlets to target for editorial coverage. Looking at data that’s been collected over several months, the team can easily determine which authors and outlets to target based on factors like the authors’ tone toward the subject in the past and which outlets typically receive the highest social sharing.

Solution: Augmenting PR Agency Work

The client did not replace their PR agency, but rather changed its role. While they rely less on the agency for metrics, they continue to work with their agency on strategic PR issues.

Armed with accurate traditional and social data, the company’s communications strategy is now proactive, rather than reactive. They can more effectively steer the conversation around topics they care about. They are not complacent with coverage that finds them, rather they are seeking out and finding the right coverage and reaching the right audience. This enables the team to boost reputation drivers, differentiate the company from competitors, and thus impact corporate goals.

Quarter over quarter data supports the team’s success with the more data-driven approach. The company continually increases its share of voice in the industry over competitors on topics they care about. Positive share of voice against competitors increased by 16% in one year. When coverage of brand drivers is broken down, the company has 5% more positive Thought Leadership coverage than competitors on average.

A Communications Crisis: Taking a Proactive Strategy in an Unexpected Situation

When a PR crisis occurred, the team was prepared because they had smart processes and a great partner already in place. While the company was fighting an unexpected situation that they could not prevent, the communications team was confident in their ability to shape the narrative around it and take a proactive strategy. The client requested 24/7 media monitoring which allowed the team to influence the story as much as possible by responding to any critical coverage right away. It also allowed them to assess the impact of their crisis management strategy in near real time.

Because the company had already taken a data-driven approach to communications, they used their backlog of data to quickly understand the scale of this media event. The team discovered coverage around this crisis outgained coverage of their regular study, an unprecedented occurrence. That insight helped them plan the resources and time needed to fight this crisis.

Result: Analyzing the Aftermath

The company was understandably worried about how the high volume of coverage affected their reputation and wanted deeper insights. They assumed coverage would negatively affect their reputation, but data revealed that only 2% of the company’s coverage was negative and only 1% of coverage about their CEO was negative. In fact, coverage around the crisis drove increased positive coverage of many reputational drivers because the team continued to push key messaging to the right authors and audience.

Armed with these statistics, the VP of Public Relations proved the effectiveness of his team’s crisis management strategy to the executive team and proved to the board of directors that this crisis did not negatively affect reputation or overall business goals.

After seeing the power of data-driven measurement in daily communications, as well as in crisis, the company is now looking to integrate this practice across international offices to ensure accurate comparisons through company-wide metrics and a more unified communications process.

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Challenge: The Complexity of Strategic Media Measurement

After the global financial crisis and numerous data breaches and scandals over the last decade, top banking and financial institutions have placed a growing emphasis on public perception and maintaining robust communications with increasingly wary customers and shareholders. With branches and locations both globally and across America, large banks must stay in front of news in individual regions and on top of issues like customer experience and perception, corporate compliance and responsibility, cybersecurity, and community relations.

A major national bank was struggling with the complexity and sheer volume of coverage they were receiving. They were attempting to track 7 reputational drivers, 8 corporate messages, 37 competitors (including 10 national and 27 regional banks), and 82 spokespeople, regional presidents, and executives. The bank also operates in many regional metro areas across the United States and their Communications team is responsible for media analysis both nationally and regionally. As a data-driven business highly invested in keeping tabs on what publications and which influencers discuss their brand and their competitors, they needed to find a media intelligence solution that could handle a high level of complexity and deliver accurate, reliable insights.

A new Communications leader joined the firm with a keen understanding of the value of media measurement and benchmarking results. He realized the need for a comprehensive solution that could break down national and regional coverage as well as track key industry topics like cybersecurity, a growing threat in the banking and financial industry. The bank focuses on tracking reputational drivers and company goals to better understand how they can improve and where they are doing well. Reputational drivers, often surrounding broader themes and not directly mentioned in the text of articles, are easily identified by human analysts. As they work on gap plans to push and refine their messaging, particularly in weaker performing areas, PublicRelay helps them answer questions like “Are we improving coverage? And if so, is it positive?” and “Is our share of voice increasing?”. By taking a more strategic approach to media measurement, the team has insights that they can act on and not just report on.

Solution: Tracking Coverage in Near Real-Time

A website crash in the heat of the summer caused a considerable scare as scores of irate customers turned to social media to express their frustrations with the bank. In order to stay abreast of mounting negative coverage, the bank received hourly updates detailing who was saying what and quickly directing their Communications team to the customers and influencers they needed to immediately engage with. The analysis of social media included hundreds of tweets without the bank’s identifying Twitter handle. This ability to track untagged tweets allowed for a much more comprehensive understanding of social media coverage in real time. Their customer service team was empowered to promptly reach out to hard-to-identify customers and offer much-needed assistance and updates.

The bank also receives near real-time coverage for important events like economic forecast reports and major philanthropic events. Daily reports on events of this scale help them to understand how and where they are getting picked up in the media, especially with initiatives that are launching nationwide. Prompt media analysis on these occasions, particularly when there’s a steady stream and high volume of articles, allows the bank to stay well-informed of the bigger picture but also swiftly pivot and plan. Daily morning clip reports, defined by a complex, subjective changing set of rules, allow their Communications leader to come prepared for meetings with the C-suite. Irrelevant mentions are also weeded out to eliminate noise and clutter, allowing for the most suitable stories to receive a deep-dive analysis. The bank reaps the benefits of actionable insights on outcome-based metrics like message pickup and share of voice against peers and brand drivers.

The team also measures the impact of social media on their traditional coverage using PublicRelay’s Trending Score. Trending Scores are assigned to articles receiving shares on social media and indicate whether the sharing volume, channel relevance and significance are above or below their average. These trends help the team become more predictive over time as they are able to see how certain themes or concepts are shared on various channels.

Result: Setting Benchmarks and Steering Business Directions

Through dashboards, daily clip reports, and quarterly reports, the national bank identifies and tracks three major gap plans (cybersecurity, CSR, and community education) bolstered with a concrete measure of how each is performing. Key messages like brand quality and customer perception are tracked separately from corporate messages like inclusivity, so they can easily parse out how each is performing individually and not just as a collective whole.

This data is incorporated into narrative-based insights that go straight to their board and CEO. Actionable data—such as widespread positive coverage on company statements regarding natural disasters and the resulting impact on job performance and recovery time—allows their team to understand the results of their efforts and reinforce strong, effective communications strategies.

Before implementing a comprehensive media intelligence solution, the bank could only look back at their output. Now the team understands precisely where their effort needs to focus—on effective and proactive gap messaging plans. With historical benchmarks now set in place for a diverse set of reputational drivers and key messages, the bank can now measure how its communications efforts are performing over time and not just at a moment in time.

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When you run the communications department for a pipeline company, every day is a balancing act. You need to push positive messages to key stakeholders while also countering key opposition and general coverage of safety and environmental issues.

Two key metrics for the team are whether or not they are successfully improving their brand’s corporate perception while mitigating the impact of negative coverage. At first glance, it is overwhelming to determine which of the seemingly endless negative coverage is just “loud noise” and which directly impacts their stakeholders. They need to get deep into the context of their coverage to uncover any useful insights.

Key Message Penetration

The team’s top priority is to counter negative information about the pipeline by emphasizing its benefits to local communities. Secondarily, they focus their effort on keeping a positive perception to stockholders and potential acquirers – as mergers are prevalent in this industry. With PublicRelay’s analysis, the company can see what messages are having the most positive mentions whether it is CSR initiatives, investor relations, or community benefits. They can also see if their message penetration is growing or shifting and how the positive coverage of these messages compares over time. This helps put all coverage both positive and negative into context.

PublicRelay was able to notify the team that although they were dealing with legal backlash for one of their pipeline projects in Pennsylvania, their key messages about operational excellence and investor relations were essentially drowning out the negative coverage. They recorded a 12% growth in positive mentions on the topic of investor relations, as the company received praise from a major Wall Street publication for its restructuring arrangement and overall operational superiority. Insight like this allows the communications team to double down on communication strategies that are working and shift resources to other messaging campaigns that are not pulling through.

Gauging the Severity of Issues

In near-real time the team can measure and compare the traditional and social coverage around current and past pipeline projects down to a sub-topic level. This access to past analysis is essential to both identify if negative commentary is in a normal range or if they need to devise a strategy to quickly react to it.

For instance, PublicRelay was quick to alert the company when an issue with protestors affiliated with a religious group started driving the largest portion of negative coverage on the topic of land rights. They helped the company quickly pinpoint which social media users were driving around 60-70% of negative mentions about environmental issues, specifically gas and fracking concerns. Insight like this helps the company quickly create engagement strategies to counteract some of this negative publicity.

Measuring Opposition Coverage

PublicRelay’s media intelligence solution enables the team to break their opposition coverage into three different categories:

  • The highest potential reach across traditional media
  • Most likely to be shared on social media
  • The types of social media mentions shared by influencers (users with high numbers of followers)

They further categorize this coverage into topics such as: safety, environmental, and legal issues so they can pinpoint exactly which topics are of main concern on a regular basis. This two-dimensional look their data enables the team to build out granular strategies for each of the key themes.

Furthermore, this data is analyzed quarter over quarter, to uncover areas where they historically dominated positive coverage and are now losing traction. For example, one quarter, the company’s positive mentions of community benefit and job creation had significantly decreased – particularly in Pennsylvania where their latest pipeline was being constructed. Given history, this outcome was not unexpected. The team used the data to pinpoint authors and outlets in the region and quickly set a plan to turn around positive coverage on those topics.

Maximize Company Value

In volatile and regulated industries, quickly understanding your reputation in the market and how, or if, you need to react is critical. Using accurate and timely data to build and execute their PR strategy has made the communications team much more efficient and agile. They are also able to show their impact on key company goals like maximizing company value to potential buyers, investors, and local communities.

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