Every new year brings about fresh plans, big ideas and new business and communications goals. And 2020 is no exception, especially with new technologies and a presidential election generating massive amounts of data – and noise.

As such, it’s more important than ever to measure the impact of your communications and brand management efforts. By measuring media results and determining the outcomes, you can make data-driven recommendations to your C-suite, to help inform future strategy and business decisions.

A comprehensive analytics program helps you discover what is working, and more importantly, what isn’t. Analytics should guide your decisions on a daily basis, in addition to providing groundwork for the months ahead.

Of note, do not develop an analytics plan to be activated only at the end of a successful campaign. Instead, create an integrated, structured and ongoing measurement strategy that comes into play in every stage of your work. 

Here are 20 tips to help make 2020 the year where you do more to connect business data and media analytics, understand the full impact on brand reputation and help steer communications success throughout the year. 

Twenty Tips for 2020

  1. Determine your business and communications goals, and make sure your analytics program aligns with them. This is always the starting point for meaningful measurement.
  2. Ask yourself what outcomes you hope to achieve, and what success looks like.
  3. Establish baseline findings with a benchmark report, so you can track changes over time. Without a baseline, there is nothing to measure against.
  4. Look back at media attention in the past, so you can understand what drove coverage and conversations, and which initiatives increased brand awareness and reputation.
  5. Look now at real-time data, so you can immediately respond if needed. Set up alerts for all your relevant brand keywords, and keep a close eye on sentiment that can warn of potential issues and fake news. In many cases, speed is a factor. Quick decisions might need to be made about whether a response or non-response is the best approach.
  6. Look forward, pinpointing trends and finding actionable insights in your data to drive future strategy.
  7. Make sure your analytics platform includes AI and machine learning to help you make sense of the massive and overwhelming amounts of media data available these days. These technologies make it easier to summarize thousands of media stories, recognize context, anomalies, themes and messages, and anticipate future outcomes.
  8. Improve the metrics that are the foundation of your analytics program. Don’t cast the net too widely by using dozens of metrics. Make sure your metrics matter, underlining the old saying, “It’s quality, not quantity that counts.” (Phrases become adages for a reason – they remain true over time.) Stay away from vanity metrics that simply give you numbers and do not represent the value of your communications efforts. They do not provide a road map to insights.
  9. Pay attention to the sentiment metric, as briefly mentioned in tip #5. This bears repeating and cannot be stressed enough. Positive sentiment frequently showcases success, and negative sentiment can help flag potential crises, including fake news. Disinformation might appear in legitimate-looking news stories, social media posts, phony websites or ads. Keeping your finger on the pulse of sentiment is crucial in 2020.
  10. Update your crisis comms plan to include a response process for potential issues and fake news. Use your analytics platform to help you be prepared. Crisis analytics provide a critical real-time understanding of your brand’s reputation during a media firestorm and public scrutiny.
  11. Identify endorsements given to your company, which underline positive sentiment. How frequently do people state preference for your brand or recommend it? Use the data to find your advocates and influencers on the topics most relevant to your company.
  12. Search data to find indications of customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, customer service, purchase interest and purchase intent. And be sure to follow up in your media outreach to these customers and potential customers.
  13. Test your company’s messages. Analyze if they are effective, if they connect to your goals, if they resonate with your target audiences, in what way they are mentioned and how often are they being repeated. By mining the data, you might be able to suggest ideas to refine messaging and further develop your positioning.
  14. Listen closely to the market and your company’s customers, so you can jump on trends in influencer opinions. This will also help you identify business and industry developments such as market growth or technology changes.
  15. Revise your media outreach plans based on the baseline findings in your benchmark report and ongoing analyses.
  16. Review your target audiences, and determine what topics and themes are of interest to your customers, stakeholders and others. Learn which media channels they use the most frequently. If necessary, shift your outreach plans to where your audiences can be more easily reached.
  17. Uncover competitive intelligence. By collecting and analyzing this information, you can spot competitors’ strategies and tactics, see how they position themselves in the media and the market, learn about their achievements, discover hidden opportunities and create compelling new ideas. Check to see what activities work for your competitors, and whether they are taking advantage of any situations that you might have missed.
  18. Refresh your strategy based on all the insights mentioned in the previous tips. Use this knowledge to inspire compelling and creative new programs and campaigns.
  19. Apply critical thinking throughout the year. Don’t simply accept all conclusions. Question everything, and carefully examine the data before forming a logical, well-thought-out judgment.
  20. Evaluate perceptions on a consistent basis, to inform an ongoing plan that responds to strategic change; recommend adjustments throughout the year.



Measurement and analytics provide a strategic roadmap for communicating with the public, and empowering your senior leadership with informed, data-based recommendations to drive creative and positive outcomes in the new year. 

If you haven’t started an analytics program at your company, now is the time to do so. If you already have one, now is the time to think about reinventing it to accommodate the technological changes, trends and events in 2020.

Want to learn more about how to pick metrics that matter? Take a read through part one and part two of Zignal’s special report series on measurement.