All the software in the world won’t help if you can’t extract the data, interpret it, and present it in convincing reports. Your marketing and communications department may have a data geek to manage the process. But with the right tools, PR and social media professionals can learn not only to determine what needs to be measured, but to also create professional reports that best show off business value.
Media intelligence platforms often include dashboards with data visualizations (such as graphs, heat maps, and word clouds) that you can easily export and include in your reporting. Armed with this data, you’re ready to tell a data-driven story that illustrates your performance on a monthly, quarterly, annual, and ad hoc basis to prove the communication team’s business contributions.
Time to Consider Working with Consultants?
Before diving into what your reports should include, you may want to consider making a case for outside help. Whether you’re looking to take your reporting to the next level, or just getting started with data-driven PR, a consultant who specializes in measurement and reporting can help ensure you’re extracting the most relevant information and presenting it in a way that will clearly:
- Align to business goals
- Account for the full ROI of your PR and social activity
- Help you make a strong case to increase your budget
Industry-specific consultants help ensure clients are delivering boardroom-ready reports on a timely basis. Let’s face it, while keeping track of the data is invaluable for setting strategy and guiding day-to-day activity, carving out time for gathering and presenting it can be a challenge. Consultants can also develop more advanced competitive metrics, specific to various industries and business types.
Once you have identified the right KPIs to track, you’re ready to implement your reporting framework.
Reporting Frameworks: Monthly, Quarterly, Annual, and Ad Hoc
A comprehensive, insightful report is critical for making better, data-driven decisions. Don’t wait until the end of the year, when every department is asked to account for itself, to start measuring your KPIs. We’ve outlined how to best present your results at timely intervals. You’ll also find guidance on ad-hoc campaign reports as well as crisis reports, when the stakes are high and everyone’s paying attention to your every move. Here are the five reports we recommend you regularly produce, and what to include in them:
Your manager (and potentially their manager too)
Determine whether you’re on the right track with numbers that are (hopefully) trending upward. If a program is surpassing expectations, this is your chance to shuffle resources and do more of what’s working. If results are less than stellar, you can make adjustments or make a case for turning a program off and trying something else (or at least keep a careful eye on it while you formulate plan B).
Senior Director and/or VP of Communications, CMO (and potentially CEO)
Think of monthly reports as test scores, and quarterly ones as your report card. Here you’re not just tracking trends, but presenting and defending results. Do your KPIs demonstrate business value? An effective report will be able to account for every dollar spent and how that expenditure contributed to business goals. Certain programs will enable you to clearly tie dollars spent to revenue. For example, placing links that lead to landing pages that lead to sales. Others won’t, but you’ll still want to explain the business benefits of your results.
CMO, CEO, Board, Investors
At the end of every fiscal year, the executive team makes decisions about next year’s budget. Your report will inform their longer-term strategy. This is your opportunity to make a case for additional tools, resources, and program spend. Or at least, set very clear expectations on what your efforts can yield given available funds. Don’t leave any doubt as to the benefits this budget will yield.
Same as monthly or quarterly reports, depending on campaign size.
Campaigns should kick off with a very specific goal, for example, launching a new product, entering a new market, or getting the word out on a specific promotion, event, or theme. Your report then tracks your success in achieving relevant outcomes.
Depending on the crisis and its trajectory, this could range from your manager to the very top.
A crisis can break a brand. It can also be an opportunity to prove your commitment to customers and community. Most importantly, you’ll want to show how PR and social helped quell the controversy, turned the conversation around, and got back to typical levels of volume and sentiment. While benchmarking will help guide you every step of the way, you’ll want to be sure to report on what’s going on at any moment. Automatically updated, real-time dashboards are critical.
Sample Metrics and Key Reporting Elements
In addition to the KPIs you identify as being critical to your PR and business goals, we’ve identified three important elements that can elevate your reporting.
Whether you’re creating a monthly, quarterly, or annual report, you’ll want to include a clear summary of activity that indicates how your programs are trending. Here we see detailed brand and coverage summaries.
Benchmarking, especially important for quarterly and annual reporting, allows you to compare yourself to the competition as well as your own performance in previous periods. In the charts above, share of voice is benchmarked both by reach and volume.
An annual report is where you want to highlight your position within the industry (for instance by message penetration) and synthesize multiple factors (for instance, volume and sentiment) to illustrate your overall media presence.
Bringing Data-Driven Communications to Life
No one ever said it would be easy to change PR’s perception from cost-center to growth-driver through smart use of data. But by consistently tracking PR’s results, and reporting on them in a consistent manner, you’ll be on the road to building PR and social media’s reputation as a key partner in business success.
Not sure how to get to the right PR KPIs for your reports? For a deep dive into uncovering the right PR KPIs and the tools to track them, download our e-book “Everything You Need to Prove PR ROI.”
And, when you’re ready to invest in technology to help you prove PR ROI, we can help.