March 12, 2019

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I have spent the first couple of months in 2019 speaking with my clients about their biggest hopes, dreams, fears, and desires. This includes senior marketing & communications leaders from some of the largest brands in the world, as well as the staff and agencies who support them every day. 

Overwhelmingly, I heard that a lack of credible metrics which prove the value of PR was keeping them up at night. In particular, chief marketers are increasingly unsure about the quality of the content that their teams are producing and how it is really driving engagement.

Earned media is hard to obtain. Earned media that is specifically relevant to your brand, shows up in the right publications, says the right things about you, and is highly engaged with? Well, that’s another “story,” so to speak.

So why is it that when companies do enjoy a great piece of coverage that they, often times, are simply “counting” that they got the hit? To paraphrase Paul Holmes quantity of content that you publish or the number of earned media pieces you garner is not enough. Counting the number of articles that mention your brand and your competitors' brands is just not a reliable indication of the quality of your communications or its impact on your business.

And as marketing and communications collide measurement meet a minimum standard and come with a certain level of consistency. Otherwise, it is impossible to compare different strategies and understand where to place your bets.

Is share of voice dead? No. But it is only the beginning of the journey along the measurement maturity path. As an industry, let us continue advancing along that path, towards metrics which demonstrate quality, engagement, brand impact, and even revenue. 

For years we had attempted to deliver this type of information using people - people that could be freed by technology to do more productive things. So rather than deploying valuable human resources to sort through articles to rate them manually in terms of relevance to the brand, reputation of the publication, repetition in social media, and article sentiment, we say let the machines to do that.

Today, we are reimagining this process using AI and big data accurate, and more scalable metrics than can ever be expected from human readers alone. We see a world where PR professionals can spend more time driving valuable business outcomes by crafting data informed strategies, reaching out to influencers, and telling stories that matter. 

The media landscape is utterly fragmented. between earned, owned, and paid media are gone forever. It’s hard to keep up, and even harder to know what to do next. But data science helps us to see these things as opportunities and technology helps us to capitalize on them. The result is better stories delivered to a more targeted, more engaged audience. And at the end of the day, PR becomes the hero. 

So as I continue my customer roadshow, I reflect back with optimism and excitement. Certainly for the work that we have done to date, but more for the growing awareness and enthusiasm within the communications industry of a future which we are racing towards at high speed. And we are in the driver’s seat.

Dan Beltramo, CEO at AirPR