Analyst platform gives PR a seat at the table

AirPR adds hard facts about a PR campaign's return on investment

AirPR is the first to attempt to boil down marketing efforts to specific value and worth, which represents advancement for the industry. Credit: AirPR

AirPR is the first to attempt to boil down marketing efforts to specific value and worth, which represents advancement for the industry. Credit: AirPR

Proof can oftentimes be a touchy point for CMOs and public relations outfits — but that worry could be diminishing in light of ventures like AirPR, a new analytics platform aiming to turn big data into tangible PR results.

Pinpointing the results of publicity can be fickle. While PR professionals can easily identify hard-earned placements, big-ticket media mentions and a successfully run publicity campaign, it’s much more difficult to show the one thing that matters most to the companies and clients that employ them — return on investment. Just because a brand gets a mention, a feature story in a major publication or even a full-on media flurry, doesn’t necessarily mean that a business boon will follow. AirPR is hoping to be something of a guiding light in the often-murky waters of publicity worth by using hard data.

“Without proper data insights, PR will render itself obsolete,” said Rebekah Iliff, chief strategy officer at AirPR. “Creative thought must be informed by strategic insight, and having access to data is the key to strategic insight.”

Tracking engagements in real-time

But do numbers really equate to proof points of success in PR? Like most analyses in the age of big data, it largely depends on the application. The startup, which has a history of providing comms tech solutions to companies, doesn’t necessarily use data to tally what’s working and what’s not. Truth be told, with Twitter, Reddit threads and the ambiguity of “virality,” tracing the efficacy of any PR effort can be nearly impossible in the 21st century, no matter how many Twitter direct messages, sent emails and screenshots of G-Chats with publicists are proffered.

Rather, AirPR provides users with a metrics “dashboard” to track how their PR efforts stack up against competitors, and against previous pitching attempts. The analyst dashboard tracks engagements in real time, and attempts to synthesize whether the nature of the attention is positive or negative. In addition, users can focus in on individual mentions and traction on certain messages or slogans. The level of visibility, according to the creators of AirPR, offers a better perspective on the most effective messaging coming from a brand. Ideally, the aid of big data helps both agencies and companies to finally put a price on PR.

“Analytic solutions cut through the fat and diffuse the massive amounts of information into relevant, actionable insights that matters to business objectives,” Iliff tab

No room for serendipity?

The repercussions of identifying the tangible effects of a PR and marketing budget are huge for the CMO. But with that kind of algorithmic knowledge, of course, comes a few downsides. The most obvious: Tracking services attempt to replicate a human ability to identify quality engagement, which can miss important conversations happening in unexpected places or discussions unfolding in surprising terms. And, of course, analytics services take a bit of the intuition and serendipity out of the game. Subsequent decisions to cut certain campaigns may wind up eliminating efforts that would have created value in unforeseen ways down the line.

More sophisticated analytics

Still, you’d be hard-pressed to find a PR pro arguing with the value of pinpointing engagement with a brand’s specific slogan or marketing message. The ability to acutely track PR is bound to grow as more data avails itself and technology matures to identify subtleties in tone, decipher unexpected engagement and help marketers better align custom-tailored messages to intended audiences. AirPR isn’t alone in vying for the role of sleuthing PR’s ROI problem.

Many of today’s biggest companies, firms and agencies use some form of analytics-monitoring tech, including Cision, Vocus and Google Analytics. But AirPR is the first to attempt to boil down marketing efforts to specific value and worth, which represents advancement for the industry.

PR often has to fight for a seat at the table in organizations. Tech programs like AirPR could give agencies, companies and CMOs the confidence and the proof they need to better articulate their PR ideas, fight for strategies and finally provide a data-rooted defense about their value and worth.

Katie Manderfield
Katie Manderfield is a writer, producer and digital strategist based in New York City. She specializes in thought leadership, emerging trends, and cultural intersections. Her work has appeared in Fast Company, Business Insider and on NPR.
Katie Manderfield
Katie Manderfield
Tags: Software,Technology