PR Planning Success: Media Analysis

So you have decided to look into new ways to reach your audience, customers, and investors through public relations, but where to begin? When kickstarting your PR planning, implementation, and evaluation efforts, research should be at the forefront of every great strategy. Rather than an unending loop of trial and error campaigns, taking the time to conduct research can be the make or break of your PR efforts. With proactive and strategic methods, PR initiatives can and should thrive. 

In order to execute successful PR planning, understanding the role research has in developing those strategies can play a key factor in determining next steps. There are many different types of essential research, but the one I want to focus on today is media analysis.

A media analysis provides valuable insight into what is currently happening in the media landscape — and what competitors are talking about. Having this information can help guide and build the best PR strategy for inserting thought leaders into conversations. 

First things first: media analysis 

PR planning is fun and exciting, making it easy to want to dive into brainstorming ideas and campaigns right off the bat. However, it is important to take a step back and gain perspective on key market players and the conversations they are having in the media. By doing so, goals and strategies can be better aligned. Instead, starting with a media analysis prior to planning and implementation can provide crucial information, such as what kind of stories are being written, which reporters and publications are writing about similar topics or stories, and who is covering competitors. This can include an assessment of many things: 

  • Share of Voice measures the percentage of all online content and conversations about your company or brand, compared to those of your competitors. Share of Voice is a great tool for understanding how much coverage you are receiving compared to competitors, however, it does not provide a representation of the quality of coverage received. 
  • Media mix consists of the make-up of a company’s different types of coverage including contributed content, features, quotes, mentions, and press release postings. We recommend a mix of 50% news, 25% contributed content, and 25% interviews and quotes from subject matter experts.
  • Press release strategies include a sound cadence of announcements to show consistent innovation and growth. These strategies can consist of product announcements, executive additions, fundraising, customer wins, original data and more. 
  • Spokespeople are the company executives who will be sharing their thought leadership expertise with the media. Their titles, experiences, and bold ideas help stand out against others in the industry and build up a brand.
  • Website impact can be analyzed through an assortment of metrics such as domain authority, potential reach, backlinks and website sessions driven by articles. Understanding impact better determines underlying strategies for outreach and media placements. 

At BLASTmedia, we provide a media analysis as part of our research process. Our new client onboarding includes an analysis of their media landscape prior to beginning our PR strategy and efforts. When conducting this research, we take a look at all of the above assessment topics from share of voice to website impact for both our client and each individual identified competitor. Breaking down each facet of their media strategies can help us determine where our clients stand in relation to their competitors and set realistic expectations and goals for standing out and driving thought leadership. In doing so, we come across key findings that impact our overarching PR strategy. For example, if competitors are focused on a cadence of press releases but with minimal thought leadership campaigns, our team can plan announcements in-tandem as well as prepare unique and bold angles to fill the thought leadership gap in the industry that competitors are lacking.

Also with our media analysis, BLASTmedia is able to take a deep dive into the different publications and reporters for specific verticals. For example, we don’t want to reach out to the New York Times education writer about healthcare technology, do we? If one competitor is gaining traction in a specific vertical or publication, we use this knowledge to see how we can also best reach out to those writers. Knowing what they cover and trends in their writing we are able to insert our clients into the conversation. Additionally, taking the time to research competitors and the industries they are in as a whole helps us better understand our clients, build thoughtful campaigns that speak to their audiences, and overall execute on the needs of our client. 

By analyzing this information, one gains a holistic view of the media landscape. In turn, this helps guide the PR planning process and develop an educated and effective PR strategy moving forward. 

Challenges of media analysis 

Effective media analysis requires an understanding of who is writing what, when and how you can fit into their cadence of storytelling. Simply looking at coverage is insufficient in providing the necessary information for effective PR planning. Instead, analysis and application of information is what uncovers opportunities and drives successful initiatives. A media analysis can be tricky, as all of this information is open to interpretation. There are no formal quantitative methods of conducting a media analysis; it relies on subjectively looking at the company, competitors and the stories being told. 

Additionally, analysis is not a one and done effort. The media landscape is constantly changing as new stories, writers and publications pop up every day. An initial media analysis before the PR planning process is crucial, but it is just as important to continually research, explore, and evaluate new opportunities. 

At BLASTmedia, media relations and securing meaningful coverage is our priority. As each client is different, so are the opportunities with media. We prioritize understanding the media landscape prior to building a PR strategy to better educate ourselves and our clients on goals and expectations and best prepare them for PR planning initiatives.If you want to learn more about BLASTmedia and our dedication to educated and impactful PR strategies, contact Lindsey Groepper.

The Role of Research in PR Planning

Research is probably a term you hear a lot, but maybe you don’t really know what it means. Is there a drawback to not doing research? Is it really that important? The answer is an unequivocal yes. 

Successful public relations programs require proactive and strategic planning. That planning must be grounded in research. It should be the first step in the process — followed by planning, implementation and evaluation. 

Why Research Should Determine Your Goals 

Research, as defined by PRSA (the Public Relations Society of America), is the systematic gathering of information to describe and understand a situation, check assumptions about groups of people and perceptions, and determine the public relations consequences. Research helps define what the problem is, and the publics (a group of people) you want to reach. If you’re looking to influence any type of audience, like customers or investors, that’s done through public relations. Without research guiding the method of how you’re going to influence those people, you’re just throwing things at the wall and hoping something sticks. That’s not effective, or good for your brand.

Think about your company’s long-term goals as you’re trying to figure out what you want your research to help with. What do you want your target public to think? Goals shouldn’t be communications-related because we’re trying to solve business goals, and communications are only a tactic of how to do that.

Your goal shouldn’t be “I want to be in the Wall Street Journal;” but it could be “I want to show marketing directors I’m an expert in the marketing tech space.” This could be done through an article in the Wall Street Journal. It could also be done by a piece of bylined content in a marketing trade publication that marketing directors love to read. Think about the overarching goals when formatting your PR plan, and make sure they’re grounded in research, to identify objectives or OKRs that will map back to your overall business goals. 

Types of Research 

There are many types of research — and honestly, it can get a little confusing. This can sometimes drive people away from research entirely, which is the worst thing you can do. Let’s break research down into groups:

  • Primary & secondary research
    Primary research is new or original information generated through firsthand research. You’re deliberately initiating this research, like a scientist collecting samples of data. Secondary research is not something you’re undertaking. It’s usually an examination of research previously done by others (like when you Google prior research on the topic).  
  • Formal & informal research
    Formal research is designed to gather data from scientifically representative samples using objective measures. Results can usually be projected to the larger universe, and it can be quantified. This is how you come up with statistics like “36% of the population….” Informal research is everything else (that doesn’t use the scientific method).
  • Quantitative & qualitative research
    This one is a bit easier to understand. Quantitative = quantity, as in numbers. Quantitative research is numerically-based, can be compared, and uses closed-end or forced-choice questions (versus open-ended questions). Qualitative = quality, and usually provides a bit more in-depth answers than just a number. Qualitative research isn’t measurable since it isn’t based on numbers, and often provides more detailed information (think: focus groups). This type of research helps develop in-depth understandings of issues. 

Where to Start

Now that you’re an expert in all types of research, where do you begin? Your research ahead of any PR planning should answer some pretty basic questions:

  • Who do we want to reach?
  • What do we want people that we’re reaching to do?
  • What messages do we want to communicate to those people that will increase their knowledge and/or change their opinion?  

Think about what types of decisions will be made based on your research results. What information will be required to support that decision?  

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Other parts of your organization may have already done some type of research you can use (that’s that secondary research). Even if it isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, it can still be helpful when you’re starting. Think about these questions when you’re figuring out what type of research you’re going to do: 

  • How much time do you have?
  • What questions will you ask?
  • Will the results be made public, or will it only be used internally?
  • How will you collect data — via online surveys, telephone, mail-in, focus groups?
  • Does sample selection for a survey give you an accurate assessment of your target population (if you’re researching what common problems IT leaders experience, you wouldn’t survey a group of marketing professionals)? 

Information gathering usually begins with an analysis of relevant secondary sources. Sometimes secondary research is all you have the time or money to do. The key considerations in determining your scope of research are what you need to find out and how you plan to use research results. While secondary research may be enough in some situations, you will usually need primary research to establish benchmarks for assessing specific future outcomes.

Research Essential for Media Relations and SaaS PR

You’re likely reading this blog not because you’re a research aficionado, but because you want to elevate your SaaS company’s brand or public perception. And I’m here to help you do just that! There are a few specific types of research essential for media and public relations for SaaS companies. 

Content analysis
Content analysis is objective, systematic and quantitative description and evaluation of the content of documents, including print and broadcast coverage. An example would be reviewing your media coverage and your competitors’ media coverage to better understand how often each is covered and who has a stronger share of voice.

Media analysis 
A media analysis offers a more qualitative look at a brand’s media presence. This allows you to identify media opportunities that exist in the market and see why competitors are being covered. Could you steal their thunder? Perhaps — but not if you don’t know what their thunder is in the first place (cough, cough…research).

Both of these are important during the PR planning process, which is why BLASTmedia’s media landscape analysis (that all of our clients receive during their onboarding period) is developed using both content analysis and media analysis.. 

 PR is exciting, and it can be tempting to want to dive into planning or implementation right away, but it’s imperative that goals and the strategies and tactics to meet those goals are rooted in research, or else you’re just spinning your wheels. If you want more details on content and media analysis, make sure to follow BLASTmedia on LinkedIn; we have some more in-depth information on both of those coming to you soon.