How to Measure the Media Impact of Your Corporate Values
You think your company is highly regarded when it comes to fulfilling your promise about corporate values and brand attributes such as CSR, sustainability, innovation, integrity and many others. But are you measuring it in the media to be sure?
It takes more than magic or guesswork to understand the impact of your brand’s communications efforts on your organization, stakeholders, consumers and other audiences.
This requires media analytics related to corporate reputation – particularly when it comes to public opinion about your company’s goals and values (sometimes also known as mission statements, brand attributes and/or pillars).
In “The Bottom Line on Reputation,” a recent Zignal Labs-PR Week survey of 174 senior communications leaders from top brands and agencies, 76.3% believe an entity’s role as an ethical company and good corporate citizen has a very strong impact on their brand’s reputation.
Yet almost that identical number of respondents (75.7%) say they do not have a strong, quantifiable, real-time sense of consumers’ sentiment about their brands.
Before you can gain that understanding, the first step is to make sure your analytics team is aware of your organization’s goals and values.
What Are Your Corporate Values?
These values might be part of your company’s employee handbook. But surprisingly, many organizations haven’t even decided what their values should be, let alone spelled them out to their employees.
If you’re in that position, it is crucial to determine what you want to be known for, and then your goals, values and brand attributes will easily follow. Once you have made those decisions, a meaningful measurement program can be established.
I once had a client team ask for such a program to demonstrate media opinion about their division’s brand. While they were very aware of their corporation’s goals, they stuttered when asked about the values of their specific division. Embarrassed, they admitted they had not made that decision yet. They then scheduled a senior leadership meeting, brainstormed about values that aligned with their company’s goals, and then called me back to customize a program.
What Values and Attributes Are Companies Measuring?
On a broad scale, companies typically want to know how their brand is discussed in relation to reputation. More specifically, they also are interested in whether their organization is recognized for values such as corporate responsibility, sustainability, diversity and inclusion.
Of note, the Zignal Labs-PR Week survey found that 76.2% of respondents truly believe a company’s CSR activity has a tangible impact on its value. This supports an earlier study by Cone Communications that concluded: “78% of Americans want companies to address important social justice issues; 87% will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about; and 76% will refuse to purchase a company’s products or services upon learning it supported an issue contrary to their beliefs.”
In addition to CSR, many organizations also measure public opinion about:
- Brand attributes such as innovative, inspirational or integrity
- Consumer sentiment such as satisfaction, confidence, loyalty or trust
- Industry topics such as cloud computing, AI, big data, jobs or mobility
- The Zignal Labs-PR Week survey showed 52% of respondents want to know the amount of time their brand is associated with a key industry topic.
What are the Next Steps?
Once you have determined your goals, values and attributes, and know what you need to measure, set up a system in your analytics platform. Keep in mind that tracking the number of mentions, followers or other vanity metrics will not help you understand how your brand, values and reputation are perceived, or the impact of your communications efforts. The context of those metrics is crucial.
For example, your analytics might demonstrate the number of people who use the word confidence in relation to your brand. The context will unveil whether they are actually expressing confidence, or perhaps a lack of confidence.
As another example, one of my clients in the consumer electronics industry wanted to know how many times the word innovative was associated with their brand in online media. They were pleased when our search turned up massive results.
But when we analyzed the data, we discovered innovative appeared in the boilerplate of company press releases, which were published by thousands of online distribution sites that were not important to the brand. The search terms had to be modified, and the context was needed to drive future strategy and increase the word association in a meaningful way.
A client in the technology industry approached analytics in a methodology that initially sounded good but ultimately was not beneficial. This group calculated how frequently their brand’s values and products were regarded in the media.
They ran complex search strings to show 1) how they stacked up against competitors in industry topics of data analytics, cloud computing, mobility and security; 2) how their messages were perceived; 3) how their vertical initiatives fared (e.g., healthcare and financial services); and 4) which media channels – business, technology and trade publications, blogs, and Twitter – discussed their brand. Indeed, this had the makings of a solid analytics program.
Unfortunately, they were not interested in conducting this research more than once a year. By the time they understood the data, it was out of date. Data-driven decisions could not be made to modify their communications strategies.
But a different tech client got it right. Members of the senior comms team wanted to measure their goal to improve strategic positioning against three competitors in four industry topics: big data, data management, data integration and data quality.
Our analytics revealed not only competitive intelligence, but also opportunities to revise strategies and build brand awareness around the most important industry topics. The research also informed which media channels and languages should be used in comms outreach in individual global markets.
These insights were so helpful that the client asked us to develop an ongoing measurement program, using the initial analysis as a benchmark; its baseline findings compared data each month. As a result, the analysis contributed to driving brand awareness and decision-making on an ongoing basis.
Are You Fulfilling Your Promises?
There are numerous ways to determine, via media analytics, if you are fulfilling your promises inherent in your corporate values.
Traditional measurement with complex search strings, word clouds and Google Analytics can help you analyze public sentiment about your values, brand attributes, reputation and messages.
These days, you can also apply AI, so hundreds of thousands of mentions can be synthesized and parsed, and combine it with machine learning to assist with comprehending complex language such as sarcasm and slang.
Measuring the public perception of your corporate values on an ongoing basis arms you with information to 1) see if you are fulfilling your brand promises; 2) protect your brand reputation; and 3) plan for the future.
Meaningful analytics also enables you to recognize the impact of your communications efforts on your company, stakeholders and other audience segments, and make data-driven business decisions.
Download the Zignal Labs-PR Week 2018 Brand Health Study for more findings in the survey.