Confession: While media monitoring software was evolving into media intelligence over the last decade, I didn’t as a user. My media monitoring routine remained fairly static since the early aughts: Start the day scanning my inbox for the latest press hits, and occasionally log in to look up a journalist or run a coverage report.

But then I joined Meltwater’s team of product experts, leading up global product communications—and had to catch up quickly. I learned I was missing out on the powerful tools, best practices, and advanced technologies now available thanks to media intelligence—starting with my underutilization of dashboards.

Customizing Your PR Dashboards

Your dashboards are automated oracles always available to help out with everything from content marketing ideas to competitor intelligence—when they’re done right and designed with intention. (Secondary confession: I initially relied on a default template* and ignored half of the widgets.) Our in-house dashboards guru, Ryan Getchell—who’s interviewed clients from Fortune 50 companies to boutique PR agencies—says as PR pros become more data-driven, they’re increasingly using dashboards to drive their campaign strategies:

“Clients that use dashboards to design data-driven campaign strategies tend to rely on three types of PR dashboards: brand, competitor, and industry trends. Track these three staples to gain a real-time understanding of your brand’s PR ecosystem. The insights you glean may reveal new trends or validate what you already know—but backed by data. Armed with these metrics, you can identify areas to influence, strategize how to move the needle, then measure the effectiveness of those efforts through a campaign dashboard to demonstrate PR ROI.”

Read on for some tips* for setting up these three PR dashboards—based on our clients’ own best practices—and how to translate data gleaned from those dashboards into insights that can drive the direction of your next campaign or PR strategy.

PR Dashboards top widgets

1. Brand Dashboards—How to Optimize Them

If you’re already using a media intelligence platform, you likely have some form of this dashboard already. But what’s key here is keeping it focused on your brand, and making sure the metrics you track can accurately measure your brand’s performance. This will be your go-to dashboard to gain insights into how your brand is performing now and over time, creating a baseline for your reporting. You’ll want this dashboard to map directly to your KPIs, informing daily decisions, as well as your monthly, quarterly, and annual reports.

Tip #1: Filter out the noise of competitor and other market data to making sure the metrics you track speak only to your brand’s performance.

Tip #2: Make sure you’re using the right metrics to most accurately measure your brand and how its footprint evolves over time. Depending on your brand’s goals, you may want to include data like publications/social influencers, mentions by geography, or visits to your website (tracked by Google Analytics and integrated into your PR dashboard).

Tip #3: Measure news and social data separately. “Tracking news and social together gives you a holistic view, but oftentimes, the trends within these channels are vastly different,” Ryan says. “Collecting data separately—such as mentions or sentiment – makes it easier to drill in to identify patterns that you might not otherwise recognize when the channels are combined.”

Tip #4: Check daily. Use the content feeds on your brand dashboard as a way to make it part of your routine.

pr dashboard top elements

2. Competitor Dashboards—Get Ahead and Stay Ahead

Now that you’re acutely aware of your brand’s performance, apply those same principles (or metrics) to size up the competition.

Use this dashboard to exclusively benchmark competitors’ brand performance against your own. Identify where your brand and the competition are similar, and spot where you can stand out. Monitor how your competitor is being mentioned or where there’s an opening for your brand to have a louder voice in the conversation.

Tip #1: Just about everything you can know about yourself, you can know about your competitors. And since a good media intelligence tool doesn’t limit you on the number of searches you can track, use this single dashboard as your daily source to keep an eye on all of your competitors.

Tip #2: As Ryan says, “For PR managers, I would recommend checking your brand and competitor dashboards every morning to make sure you’re the first to catch any breaking trends—or every couple of days, depending on the tempo of your industry and news cycle.”

Pr dashboards competitor

3. Industry Dashboards—Keep the Pulse on the Latest Trends  

Your brand, and those of your competitors, aren’t operating in isolation—take a constant pulse on the greater ecosystem of your industry. Spot market forces that could affect your brand over time: What are the micro- and macro-trends or themes that could impact your brand? Who are the most influential voices leading key conversations, and what kind of keywords or messages are they using?

Not checking your industry is like flying a plane without checking the weather. Know what elements to expect so you can chart the optimal course,” Ryan says. “Using your industry dashboard in conjunction with brand and competitor dashboards, it’ll be easier to spot areas of opportunity or areas to improve—like geographic performance—to guide your PR strategy.”

Tip #1: Ryan recommends checking this dashboard at least monthly to make sure you’re not missing any key coverage or patterns.

Tip #2: Unlike your competitor dashboard where you’re keeping track of other brands, here you’ll want to keep track of key topics and thought leaders. This dashboard is a great place to find out which themes you’ll want to align yourself to when pitching for coverage and any new movers and shakers whose voices are growing louder—and more influential.

Pr dashboard industry

Translating Dashboard Data to Winning Strategies

So you’ve got your PR dashboards set up and you’re armed with analytics that help you understand where your brand is at, how it stacks up against the competition, and where it’s performing in your industry. Now what?

Make the leap from widgets to a data-driven strategy in four broad steps:

  • Digest your data. Export your dashboard analytics and review with your team—either as a PDF report or a living presentation, like Meltwater’s Shareable Dashboards (which can be shared with anyone, regardless if they have an account.)
  • Pinpoint opportunities for impact.SWOT analysis is a simple method that can help with this identification,” Ryan says. “Use your data to guide the mapping.”
  • Sketch out your strategy. Create a set of tactics that focus on the areas you’ve previously identified for impact.
  • Design your KPIs. Identify which metrics will be the best indicators of whether or not your strategy is working. For instance, most media intelligence providers – including Meltwater—offer a Google Analytics widget to help you connect a news article with the web traffic driven to your company’s site. You can also measure how your messages are gaining traction, such as share of voice or tracking trending themes associated with your brand. Use these custom metrics to create a unique campaign dashboard(Tip: Check your campaign dashboard daily. Generate regular summaries to detect trends and make adjustments, as needed.)

Want to learn more about setting up PR dashboards, and how to use them for better planning and to measure ROI? We can help.