Terri Waters
Director of Public Relations

What PR Can Learn From Social Listening

Social media strategists know that social listening is a great tool to better understand what people are saying about their brand. This service, widely offered by media monitoring companies, picks up comments and assigns a “sentiment” to each, aggregating results to determine overall sentiment for a certain day, week, month, or year. 

These reports can pinpoint in real time how social posts are doing, as well as the mentions of your brand on other organizations’ social sites. Social listening delivers great insights for marketing departments, data that in the past could only be accomplished through expensive and time-consuming surveys and focus groups. 

Because social listening quantifies audience thoughts, feelings, and opinions, there’s increasing pressure on PR to do the same. More and more, social listening is being utilized to enhance PR measurement efforts, giving a clearer picture of how media coverage is influencing opinions.

More than just audience impressions

Typically, PR results have been measured by the audience size of the media outlet, word count or segment length, sentiment (positive, negative, neutral), and the advertising value equivalency (how much an ad of the same size would cost in print, broadcast, or online media). 

Recent enhancements to media monitoring services are helping brands dive deeper into the value of their PR coverage. For example, a search engine ranking score predicts how likely a media website is to rank in search engine result pages. These domain authority scores range from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater likelihood of ranking. Knowing the scores can help inform which media outlets to focus PR efforts on.  

When it comes to measuring PR, thinking about it creatively can help drive unexpected insights. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Use social listening tools to monitor what people are saying about the brand as related to a particular media story. The marketing staff can then consider whether these sentiments are different from the typical types of comments they get and use that as a means to determine the impact of the PR story on the brand.
  • Review what people are saying in the comments section on the digital story. What is the range of sentiment – Angry? Annoyed? Supportive? Excited? Track these sentiments and score them on a continuum over time to see if audience sentiment is changing. 
  • Following the publication or airing of a media story, track your website traffic and engagement on social media sites for a week or 10 days. Are traffic and engagement higher, or about the same? If higher, you might be able to conclude that the story had a considerable impact. 

Metrics can validate how media coverage spurs conversations and provide feedback on what people think and feel about a brand, product, or service. In an evolving media scene, PR can remain relevant by tracking and measuring audience sentiment while drawing meaningful conclusions from that data. 

If you’d like to know more about how to better measure your PR results or to find out if a PR program can benefit your organization, please reach out!  [email protected] or [email protected]