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When it comes to the success of a brand, there is one thing that is of the utmost importance, regardless of size or capital and that is reputation.

An overriding opinion on a business can turn it into a worldwide success or see it fail to connect with its target audience.

A key component of creating a strong reputation lies in the way that a company chooses to monitor and maintain its character. This has become imperative because of the increasing volume of PR activities that occur on digital platforms.

The Evolution of PR

Since the 1990s PR has experienced significant growth which corresponds with the expansion of the internet. In correlation to this the popularity of social networks has meant that the primary practice of the industry has changed.

A simple press release for a product or new venture is not enough to gain the interest of the masses. Instead activities such as viral videos, Twitter competitions and being featured on a social content site are needed for greater exposure. 

PR is no longer a one way practice but a two way conversation between a brand and the public. These conversations need to be monitored to determine if they are positive or if the campaigns have created a negative buzz.

By tracking these conversations and others surrounding an industry, companies will become aware of emerging trends that can place them ahead of others within that market.

The viral nature of PR means that it is important to track what is being said about your campaigns and who is discussing them. By having clear objectives and practices in place companies can successfully monitor their reputation while attracting new business.

Using Social Media Monitoring for PR success

Social media monitoring (SMM) collates a vast amount of data that can be used for various different tasks in the creation of PR strategy. Here are a selection of the key practices that PR teams should analyze to leverage exposure for their companies. 

Media scanning

Traditionally PR companies would spend a vast amount of time and effort trying to find mentions of their clients. This would have previously meant mundanely searching individual offline sources. However, with the move of many newspapers to online platforms it has become easier to track a client's visibility.

By using a social media monitoring tool, a search or query can be created to track a specific client or campaign. With the ability of many SMM platforms to narrow in on a specific source PR practitioners can now observe where their campaigns had the most resonance.

Also many social media monitoring tools provides real time data which allows PR companies to see what is being said about their company in the moment. This is especially useful for tracking Twitter where campaigns can go viral in seconds. 

Campaign comparisons

A great point to remember when analyzing the data from a PR campaign is that it can be compared to others which your company has previously executed. You may have several campaigns that are running concurrently throughout the year and wish to see what has been the most successful.

By analyzing the volume of mentions that these campaigns have received over a selected period of time you are able to pinpoint several key factors for evaluating campaign success.

Firstly, you can see when your campaign peaked and if these volumes are of a greater or smaller volume then the mean of these campaigns.

Similarly you can also see where your campaign has begun to lose momentum and tail off. This could be useful for future campaigns and understanding their life cycles.

Future planning

Researching your market is essential for understanding what new trends are emerging and how your target audience is evolving. You can use SMM tools to track this and plan what will be the best approach for any future campaigns.

There are several different elements that social media monitoring platforms can help you to identify. Firstly, finding out what key terms and topics resonate with your target audience. By identifying this you can tailor future content released within your PR campaigns. 

Another component available in SMM tools is the ability to identify the key sites where your brand or others in your industry are regularly mentioned. Knowing this means you can target these sites in your PR efforts when releasing new articles or products.

Handling negative publicity

By analyzing the sentiment of the mentions that your brand receives it is easier to eliminate negative correspondences. As previously stated SMM allows for real time interactions. By having queries in place to monitor online perceptions negative comments can be picked up immediately and dealt with.

Bringing these conversations offline and talking to people privately can defuse a situation and stop others from following the trend.

It is important that you do not ignore negative responses but instead address it to stop further negative sentiment occurring.

Top press hits

Another way to measure the success of your campaign is to look at the top sites where you have been mentioned. Through SMM tools you can have all of this available in one table.

Although volume is one way that you can measure this another is by blog influence. Quite a few platforms use the ranking system Mozrank to show the importance of a forum, blog post or news site.

Through knowing the influence of a page you can then determine which may have the most impact on a campaign.

There are numerous advantages that PR practitioners can receive through using SMM techniques. Tracking competitor companies, finding influencers and comparing news coverage to social buzz. Stick around for more insights into the subject.

Joel Windels

Published 10 January, 2014 by Joel Windels

Joel is Marketing Manager EMEA at Brandwatch and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Linkedin.

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