By Ben Levine, Director & Partner, TRUE Global Intelligence, FleishmanHillard UK
Last month, we launched our latest edition of FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap research and insights. The Authenticity Gap surveyed more than 10,000 informed consumers across five markets, polling their expectations and experiences of 200+ companies across 20 industries.
This authenticity research provides unique insights into the emerging opportunities and threats facing some of the world’s most well-known companies and brands – and, crucially, what consumers expect business leaders to do about them.
This year results yielded some fascinating, and I would say culturally consistent, findings about what is expected of businesses.
For instance, the importance of acting for the good of society (e.g. caring for the environment, employees, and communities) continued to grow in its importance of shaping consumer perceptions.
In looking at this shift, as well as other data that outlines what informed consumers expect of companies, it’s clear that consumers want companies to be a part of the solution, not just discussion, on the most pressing issues of our time.
In other words, demonstrate your commitment through actions that deliver tangible change.
And while this provides us with absolute clarity on how we should approach communications, it got me thinking about the ways in which we should apply authenticity to PR and comms measurement programs.
Best practice measurement methodology
For starters, having an authentic measurement approach means you must adhere to industry best practice.
That starts with aligning PR objectives with the overall goals of the organisation, setting objectives that meet the SMART criteria, and selecting valid metrics and measures across relevant channels and target audiences.
I know the temptation is strong to start with selecting a flashy tool or developing a slick dashboard that will catch the eyes of senior management.
But, if you don’t put in the time to level set on what you’re trying to achieve with PR and comms, purchasing a piece of tech, or investing the time in dashboard creation will have been done in vain.
Going through the goal-setting process – either internally at your organisation or in partnership with an agency – will set the foundation for sound measurement practice and ensure your PR and comms reporting is grounded in authenticity.
Accountability and transparency
Secondly, having authenticity in your measurement and evaluation programs means operating ethically and transparently.
This includes not only handling data and information in accordance with GDPR and applicable privacy laws in your market but also understanding the limits of what certain data, information and tools are able to tell us about PR campaign performance and business impact.
For example, if the objectives of your PR campaign were to shift perceptions then demonstrating success with the use of metrics such as volume, impressions, or share of voice would be misleading.
Instead, focus on measures related to brand sentiment, message association, or better yet integrate campaign tracking data into your reports (if available).
Additionally, if you’re gathering insights on a target audience to power a campaign (especially a niche or hard to reach one) don’t rely on a single data source. Be multifaceted in your research as well as your measurement approach.
It’s an exciting time to be a research, analytics, and measurement professional in the PR and comms space.
The tools and technology available to us are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were just five years ago. Equally, the talent and cross-industry drive for developing innovative solutions is at an all-time high.
It’s because of this convergence of technology, talent, and innovation that applying authenticity to our work is more important than ever.