How using data can accelerate your PR efforts in 2018

Plan now to use information-gathering tools to focus your campaigns and land more pitches for better exposure to your ideal audiences.

PR planning for 2018 is in full swing.

It’s time to organize what your clients are doing, to clarify who on your team is responsible for what (and when), and to put goals to strategies.

Creating a solid PR plan can be time-consuming. It also can be a bit maddening trying to anticipate all the elements needed to keep your client happy. For PR pros in the throes of planning madness, there is a better, more efficient way to create PR plans—and it revolves around data.

With all the digital tools available to PR pros, there’s excuse not to use data to uncover and highlight clients’ biggest priorities. Not using data is tantamount to uninformed planning. Analyzing your clients’ overall marketing and PR performance gives you an in-depth look at how they perform against competitors and how PR can fill in the gaps.

Before you start planning for 2018, here are five data-driven areas to consider analyzing to understand how your client stacks up against competitors in terms of marketing and PR performance.

  • Search. Tools such as Open Site Explorer and Spyfu give you a glimpse at the traffic volume and keyword focus of your client compared against other industry players. This is important for content and metrics planning, because it shows you how much ground you have to gain in terms the quality, volume and focus of coverage (from a keyword standpoint).
  • Owned content. If your client’s owned content isn’t performing well, chances are the same themes and perspectives you’re pushing from a PR standpoint aren’t making much impact. By understanding site and referral traffic, you get a sense of the impact and interest on blogs, white papers, e-books, etc. From there, you’ll know what content to push harder on and what to jettison.
  • Earned coverage. Focus on this area to understand how the volume, quality and authority of your coverage stacks up. Using Sysomos, you can look back at the last 90 days to see how many pieces of coverage the client’s competitors received. You can look for patterns and themes the client hasn’t promoted, new publications to consider and how the client’s competitors are being talked about or are talking to journalists. This highlights new pitch or campaign ideas for the plan, along with detailed insight on how to alter messaging and perspectives for clients.
  • Paid exposure. By understanding a competitor’s paid keyword strategy (what words and terms they’re paying for) you can see where they’re taking their company and the media themes they’ll be pushing in 2018. This type of information gives your client a leg up on beating competitors and securing stories journalists care about.
  • Social media. By analyzing online referral traffic and follower engagement of your client compared with that of competitors, it’s easy to see how and what their audiences are engaging with. Tools such as FollowerWonk and SEMRush can help you understand social media performance. Analyzing such data helps you put together a strong social media strategy, as you’ll know the sources and channels of conversation that are most important for your client to have a presence on.

Natalie Townsend is an account director for Shift Communications. A version of this post first appeared on the Shift Communications blog.

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