Use competitive data to make smart PR decisions

Keeping with the theme we’ve been exploring in recent posts, here’s a look at the third step in our plan for using measurement to beat competitors:

Step 1: Monitor and compare coverage – be sure PR is in alignment with competitive business goals

Step 2: Analyze results and identify opportunities to outdo competitors

Step 3: Make intelligent PR recommendations and implement strategic action

Step 4: Evaluate on an ongoing basis

Once you’ve gathered coverage data for your brand and your competitors, and you have analyzed it to gain an understanding of how PR (and the overall business) is performing, you can put what you have learned to good use. How? By making data-driven PR recommendations and jumping on opportunities to get ahead of your competitors. Here’s an example of how to do this using a common PR scenario:

After comparing recent media coverage for your brand and its competitors you realize that your competitors are earning more coverage (with meatier executive quotes) than you. Closer analysis reveals that journalists tend to paraphrase your executives and quote just a few words from them. You conclude that executives aren’t speaking in a way that is quotable, and you identify this as an opportunity  for improvement.

Your PR team decides to recommend media training sessions for the executive team, and you begin working with them prior to media interviews. This helps them become better storytellers, and before long they are driving the discussion, earning better quotes and influencing articles.

The whole point of measurement is to learn how to do better PR. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out when and where PR adjustments are needed. But, it does take a little monitoring and data analysis to determine what actions are needed to edge out competitors. By leveraging measurement results your PR team can make informed decisions and take steps to help you get ahead.

Analyze PR results and identify opportunities to outdo competitors

If you’ve watched any coverage of the 2012 Olympics you may have noticed that the athletes rely on some pretty advanced equipment to give them every available competitive angle. Things like uniforms, shoes and helmets have evolved to be lighter, stronger, and more aerodynamic. Clearly athletes understand the tools they use impact how they perform, and that they need to take advantage of anything that will potentially put them ahead of competitors. This concept translates well to PR. No, I’m not suggesting PR pros show up for work decked out in spandex Nike attire, there are other ways to get ahead in the PR world. Instead, I recommend measuring and analyzing PR results to help identify opportunities to get ahead of competitors.

In my last post I shared four steps for using measurement to beat competitors. They are:

Step 1: Monitor and compare coverage – be sure PR is in alignment with competitive business goals

Step 2: Analyze results and identify opportunities to outdo competitors

Step 3: Make intelligent PR recommendations and implement strategic action

Step 4: Evaluate on an ongoing basis

One of the points I just can’t stress enough is that you really need to be collecting data for your brand AND its competitors. A lot of PR teams skip that step and therefore don’t have the information they need to understand what it takes to be the pack leader. Of course, just having competitive data is not enough. You need to understand how to use it to your advantage. That is where step #2 (analyze results and identify opportunities) comes into play. Once you have competitive data in hand you need to look for insights that will help you improve your PR efforts and strategy. Here are some things you may want to consider:

• Are you or your competitors earning more media coverage?

• How does the quality of your coverage compare to that of your competitors?

• What publications or reporters are covering your competitors but not you?

• What sort of visibility do your executives have compared to competitor execs?

• Is your message getting through to your intended audience, or are competitors drowning out your voice?

• Is there a topic or area of your industry that lacks a leadership voice – is there an opportunity for you to fill the silence?

These examples are a jumping off point and can help you get started. Sometimes your data analysis will reveal problems with your current PR course – that’s okay. Uncovering problems is a GOOD thing. What’s important is that you’re able to recognize problems in the first place and that you respond to them intelligently. Here is an example:

• Are you or your competitors earning more media coverage?

By analyzing coverage results for you and your competitors you’ll easily be able to see who is earning the most media coverage. And guess what, it might not be you. If earning more coverage is a priority then you’ll want to look for ways to make that happen. Maybe you need to target different journalists, ramp up your outreach, or revise your pitch. Turn to coverage results and use the information to figure out which of your competitors is getting the most coverage. Try to determine what they’re doing right. Are they capitalizing on industry trends? Are their executives more quotable than yours? Digging deep into your data will help you identify opportunities for how you can earn more coverage and achieve greater visibility than your competitors.

Ultimately, keep in mind that analyzing your results against those of your competitors will help you identify weaknesses in your program so you can make the adjustments necessary to pull ahead.

Give PR clients a competitive edge with measurement

Competitive businessHow do we beat our competitors? This is the question most clients and executives are looking to answer – and they expect your help. When C-suite decision-makers evaluate business strategy and opportunities, they rely on PR for recommendations and insights that will help put them ahead of their competition.  Clients and execs know that in order to make smart business decisions they need reliable data that explains the relationship between them and their competitors, highlights industry trends, and identifies weaknesses and opportunities. Thorough PR measurement and analysis is the best way to provide valuable competitive info to your clients so they can get ahead – and stay ahead – of their rivals.

I suggest following these four steps for using measurement to beat out competitors:

Step 1: Monitor and compare coverage – be sure PR is in alignment with competitive business goals

Step 2: Analyze results and identify opportunities to outdo competitors

Step 3: Make intelligent PR recommendations and implement strategic action

Step 4: Evaluate on an ongoing basis

To expand on Step 1, your PR team should make it a priority to collect coverage data for your client and competitors. The effectiveness of your PR strategy is impacted by the strategies of competitors, so it is important to keep up-to-date on competitive developments in the news. Grab information that identifies what publications competitors are getting coverage in, what messages they’re sending, who is being quoted, and so forth. You’ll need this intelligence to make side-by-side comparisons and see whether your client is an industry news-maker or a follower.

As you monitor coverage for your company and its competitors, be sure to always have one eye on the business goals. You don’t need to know every single thing about each competitor. Trying to capture that much data is too cumbersome, and doing so would give you a mountain of information to sort through just to find a few relevant nuggets. Instead, let business goals guide your data search. Is the company hoping to grow market share, steal customers from the industry leader, become #1 in thought leadership? Staying focused on the competitive business goals will enable you to capture the most important data so your analysis and PR recommendations will be just what the executive team needs.

For a closer look at Step 2 and more on how to use measurement to gain a competitive edge, check back soon. We’ll explore these topics further in our next blog post.

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