Insights 2021: Four ways an annual communications analysis helps your comms strategy
By Lee Roden
With the year ending it's time to take stock of how your communications strategy performed. Data insights are essential to make the most of the evaluation, understand how all aspects of your comms align, and deliver actionable learnings to get 2022 off on the right foot.
Taking time to conduct a year-end audit ensures you have a true overview of how media sentiment towards your brand developed this year.
An effective audit will provide you with data-based input for planning future communications efforts. Mapping the specific topics that drove positive and negative editorial coverage of your brand for example provides direction on angles that successfully drive earned media. Or the areas that must be addressed in order to provide balance to negative media.
With these insights gathered you can also compare the external picture of your brand with the internal understanding of it. Any misalignments should be addressed in future communications.
Key learnings from earned social sentiment
A thorough annual analysis also charts results from earned social media during the year. This includes details of how and why reach has changed, a breakdown of how brand sentiment developed, the key social topics associated with positivity and negativity, and a timeline reflecting peaks in social media activity plus their cause.
Combined, these insights provide solid evidence for the effectiveness of your PR work throughout the year, demonstrating value to internal stakeholders.
Detail owned social & understand ROI of paid efforts
Owned channels play a vital role in any PR & comms strategy so it is important they are studied in detail as part of any annual communications analysis. Metrics like reach, engagement, CTR and follower numbers should all be charted. Both in terms of the year total, and also how that has changed vs the previous period, in order to understand the consequences of your owned strategy.
A comparative look at paid initiatives breaking down metrics such as CPM, CPC, reach and spend per ad across channels will help you fully grasp ROI. It also helps you to judge how effective they are, and evaluate whether you need to rethink your paid strategy so it’s more in-line with your target group.
This provides the basis for a list of do’s and don’ts and key learnings to take with you when planning social media initiatives for the next year.
Track how key messaging and spokespeople break through
A powerful addition to an annual analysis is to track how key messaging broke through. Being able to show that you’ve earned ‘x’ amount of editorial coverage last year is one thing. But being able to see how much of that editorial coverage contained your core messaging is even more helpful when judging the effectiveness of communications.
You can strengthen the analysis even further by breaking down how much editorial coverage was a result of direct initiatives from your comms team, through media releases for example. Tracking the number of articles containing a spokesperson quote is also helpful: if certain members of the team are proving particularly effective at getting their voice heard there could be learnings for others to take going forward. In years where crisis communication occurred, and adding nuance to coverage was of particular importance, this metric is even more vital.