Many life science companies inherently understand the importance of a public relations (PR) strategy. Often, however, they do not know how to articulate its importance or quantify the results. It is clear from the coverage of many life science companies during the COVID-19 pandemic that many have benefited from PR. But how do they evaluate the impact of this media attention and report it to the board? How do you determine if one story is better than another? Media analysis enables you to understand what the media is saying about you. It can also be used as a barometer for your reputation with the general public.
Understanding the objectives of a good PR and communications strategy is fundamental to evaluating its effectiveness. You need to know why you are spending money to understand what impact it is having. Typically companies are using PR and communications during the pandemic to communicate key messages, and to build reputation and trust.
Using a Media Analysis Strategically
There are four main reasons to do a media analysis:
- To measure the effectiveness of a PR strategy. Providing evidence of the success of your programs quantifies your return on investment.
- To provide competitive analysis. Many life science CEOs care about exposure versus competitors so this is a major driver for media analysis programs.
- To strategically plan a media program. Media analysis gives you data on which publications and journalists are the most effective for you to target.
- To understand what positioning, messaging and issues resonate the most. Seeing what topics and phrases journalists respond to enables you to confirm or refine your marketing.
It is important to decide on a set of objectives and metrics that are important to your company before starting any program.
Proving PR’s financial impact is one thing; communicating it effectively is another
Often, PR metrics differ significantly from the metrics that CEOs and their senior management care about. Reporting on media coverage may mean little to a team focused on financial and strategic growth.
This is a catch-22; reporting on the wrong things has resulted in PR losing its voice with top-tier execs. So how do you break through and gain a voice with the folks in the corner offices?
Discover what metrics are important to all stakeholders
Identify what senior leaders care about. Engage them in developing a communications strategy by running a metrics workshop. This will get them invested and focused on what you can and can’t do with PR, and it will unite everyone around common goals.
Challenge anyone who proposes a metric to consider what data they would like to see as evidence. This will focus everyone on available systems and data, and how they should be integrated to get significant insights. Any metric you can’t support with data should be tabled.
Document all the agreed-upon metrics, along with the required data sources, and have all stakeholders approve them. Creating a reporting methodology is an iterative process, so expect the reported data to change the first few times you present them. As questions arise, you will find new insights in the answers. After the third time, agree that no additional metrics or reports are to be developed. Otherwise, it will continually change and you won’t have benchmarks and consistent data sets to compare over time.
Adopt executives’ language
Frame your conversations around business impact and financial value. If you’re speaking the same language as the top bosses, they’ll become more comfortable both with you and the results you present. By adopting a data-led approach, you will naturally transition away from talking in the abstract to speaking a language they understand and value: one of financial impact.
Make friends with data gatekeepers
Accurate reporting requires accurate data. It is essential that you gain access to all the required data sources to prove financial impact. Be the leader in breaking down the information silos in your company; by bringing them together, you will get more powerful insights and reports. This will also enable you to evaluate effectiveness of PR as part of the whole marketing mix.
Perfect your reports
Develop different reports for each set of stakeholders. Top execs will want to see only high-level data: how you are positioned versus competitors, how your share of voice has changed over time, and how a key strategic message has resonated. Don’t give them all the data; a simple executive summary on one slide is enough.
To see an example of a media analysis project, Covalent Bonds produced a free-of-charge media analysis resource analyzing COVID-19-related news coverage of top life science brands. Take a look to see the kind of data that you can obtain from a media analysis project.
Laura Browne is Chief Effectiveness Officer at Covalent Bonds, a data-led marketing strategy company that works solely with life science companies.