“If I do not have access to your Google analytics, it’s like signing a blank check.”
I heard this phrase last fall in a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) conference on best practices for evaluating and measuring PR campaigns and it has stayed in my head ever since. Recently, the subject was also mentioned at Infopresse, which held a day of conferences on the careful use of marketing data. There were three elements from these presentations that caught my attention and have shared in more detail below.
Three new must have skills in PR
Marketing, video editing and data analysis skills. No, these are not the most sought-after skills in sales or advertising, but… in PR, according to PR Daily. These new digital vehicles generate a quantity of data that must be harnessed, compiled and analyzed to judge the real impact of a campaign. From a simple video broadcast on social media, we can draw: the number of views, shares, likes and clicks to a site, as well as the duration of the views and the engagement rate. These are all valuable statistics that contextualize the impact of a campaign.
Beyond Press Relations
Even the study of campaigns that unfold mainly in traditional media can be enhanced by numerical analysis. There are several options, starting with the interactions that arise from posting an article on social media. Major media accounts broadcast several pieces of news every hour and the end result provides valuable information. Tools like BuzzSumo also make it possible to obtain the number of sharing of report links in the main social platforms.
Data is nothing without context
Data has long been the choice of marketing specialists. Digital communications has changed the game and that’s for the best because we have new tools that will illustrate the impact of PR actions. The growth of available data, however, is accompanied by an explosion of reports filled with raw non-contextualized figures. Aviso’s Roger Kapena, who attended a workshop on the subject at Infopresse, calls for data throwing. Identifying the most relevant figures that will help identify trends and bring real value to organizations becomes an art that must be mastered. At CASACOM, we make a point of presenting data that brings added value.
PR in motion
The industry is changing, and within our team, we are experiencing this transformation in action. We are very proud to present our CASACOM Studio, which offers design and production of content (design, video, etc.) coupled with data analysis. How are you living through this era of digital transformation?
Companies are allocating more budget to social media, whether to sponsor their publications or to create their own written content, video, audio, infographic or other. All indications point to this increasing in 2018.
But will organizations see a profit following their investment? Some will, others won’t. Why? Unfortunately, there are too few companies today that apply the basics of an effective social media strategy. We’ve outlined a few reminders below to ensure your social media strategy is compelling and successful.
1. See bigger. Social media serves as a function in the overall communications strategy. Each platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.) has a specific purpose. All the activities that take place there must serve that purpose.
Why are you investing so much on this platform? What is the goal of a particular page or account? What would you like to achieve from this? These are the questions to ask yourself before going further.
These goals are too often hijacked in favour of tactical targets such as the number of “likes” or engagement rates. A strategic approach involves business objectives, such as a conversion rate, an increase in reputation or a change of opinion. The evaluation of the effectiveness of a campaign on social media is therefore often done outside these platforms.
2. Hit the right target. Which audiences do you want to reach on each platform? Are they influencers? Or strictly consumers? A wider base of followers? The approach and the evaluation measures will be different.
You have to define targets with very specific criteria. These should come from research or interviews with your target audience. At the beginning of the year, make sure you have a clear idea of the portraits of the people (personas) targeted by each of your platforms.
3. Be human. How will you communicate on social media? Are you going to leave that privilege to the “company” or the people who do it – employees, managers, customers, members? If you are a consumer of social media information, what is your preference? To ask the question, is to answer it. In 2018, companies that want to have a real impact on social media will have to put forward their best resources and bet on authenticity.
As the year begins, and the mad rush of content creation and production resumes, stop and ask yourself the right questions to make your social media activities even more strategic and relevant.
Public relations will not avoid the transformations generated by artificial intelligence (AI). CASACOM is actively thinking about the many changes that lie ahead. Will robots replace professionals? Will algorithms create press releases from scratch? Will technology detect the best target audiences to interact with? For Josh Ginsberg, president and co-founder of Zignal Labs, a digital intelligence and analytics firm leveraging these types of technologies, AI will become the buoy of PR in the sea of data that overwhelms us.
At the annual PRSA Conference in Boston, which I attended in early October, the San Francisco entrepreneur pointed out that 90% of all data generated in the past 120 years has been issued in the last two years. The proliferation of comments, sharing and interactions on social media creates a constant tsunami of information. Traditional monitoring tools are no longer sufficient to analyze tone and perception. It is especially in this field that AI will serve public relations.
The term artificial intelligence appeared in the 1950s. It referred to the first computers and their potential ability to think like humans. It was not until the mid-1970s that powerful algorithms originated to help analyze a lot of data and draw conclusions. This was called machine learning.
Today, researchers are busy developing deep learning. The aim is to model the conclusions drawn from multiple data analysis by creating artificial neural systems. Think about SIRI or Google Now.
Keeping up with the rhythm
Let’s go back to public relations. How will applications from AI help PR? For Josh Ginsberg, the functionalities pertaining to monitoring systems will shatter with AI. Professionals who monitor all insights available on the web using advanced tools will react more quickly and with more acuteness. On the other hand, those who continue to analyze reactions to a news story by looking at all mentions manually will be quickly outdated.
Not only will we be able to respond more appropriately to news developments through AI, but our ability to detect crisis will also increase.
Take the example of a brand that typically generates a thousand daily mentions on social media. Imagine that number fluctuating unusually. While most monitoring tools will detect an atypical change, the more powerful platforms supported by AI will do much more. They will make it possible to predict the evolution of anticipated mentions according to the analysis of variations recorded in the last months. Such features will improve our ability to judge the level of urgency of a situation.
Josh Ginsberg answered some key questions about AI and algorithms and how it will affect PR. See below:
- Will robots interfere with press relations?
- Will algorithms create content from scratch?
- Will new tools detect the best target audiences to interact with?
“I don’t think machines will ever call journalists. On the other hand, AI and related tools will become PR specialists’ best friends. With these features, they will be able to work faster, prepare better recommendations and be more relevant to their clients. ”
“We are not there yet. However, we will see tools emerge that will evaluate the best moments to publish a news story or recommend whether it is appropriate to comment publicly on a particular subject. ”
“Public relations professionals know the main audiences to reach out to in order to change perceptions. Data analysis will provide them with new opportunities to identify influencers who often go under the radar. I think of some of the behind-the-scenes decision makers who are rarely mentioned in newspapers and who feed a lot of conversations on social media. ”
At CASACOM, the advancement of artificial intelligence and the many uses that this technology allows, fascinates us. Our digital analysis consultants are here to recommend applications and new ways of doing things to better equip our clients for facing the changes that are transforming our industry. If you’d like more information on AI and how it will impact public relations, please do not hesitate to contact us.