Written by Jessica Bottomley, Account Manager.
As marketing budgets get smaller, brands are placing more and more value on disciplines that guarantee they’ll hit certain reach figures come end of year evaluation meetings. It’s a tough time to be in PR, and it’s becoming increasingly important to be able to demonstrate our worth.
There’s no better way to show how we can make a difference to a brand’s overall reputation than with solid measurement metrics, agreed across the board. Once an area where AVE was king, for quite some time there’s been a shift towards different metrics, of which share of voice has become something of a buzz phrase, despite it being notoriously difficult to measure. Clever tools can help, and the market is flooded with them, but within PR, or looking at individual pieces of coverage – how much does it really matter?
Quite rightly, we’ve started looking at not just how many pieces of coverage our campaigns have generated, but also at the make-up of these pieces, and the quality of them. So, what is it that a consumer (or someone else in the industry) takes away from something they read – is it the brand mentioned most? Is it the brand with that lead image, sitting pride of place in the centre of the page? Or the brand that lands a message that resonates most with them?
Leading the commentary
You’d assume that having multiple mentions peppering a forward feature, or having that trends piece in a national paper where your brand had secured far more name checks than your competitors, would mean you’d won the day, but there are other ways in which you can succeed.
It can be just as impactful to be the brand with the lead comment. A piece of coverage which opens with your brand’s key message, placed high up on the page where even the laziest reader is still engaged, has got to count for something. Given that the average reader will probably only take a couple of key points away from that piece of writing, the strength of that one key comment or stat is vital, but when compared with inches of confusing, mind-numbing drivel from a competitor, does having 26% less share of the article really matter? It doesn’t only come down to what you say, but also, how you say it.
A good way of ensuring your comment leads the piece is to keep your commentary category focused – steer away from being self-indulgent or too self-reflective, and look at the bigger picture. An impactful stat gives your commentary context, and being bold, not shying away from hot topics or issues in your category, can add to media appeal and even set the overall tone of the piece, meaning you’re bound to be chosen to open the article.
Likewise, being the brand who has their product images scattered throughout a forward feature will catch the eye of the reader who might just have time for a quick flick through. Equally, tactics like infographics and box outs will serve the same purpose, but might not always mean you win when it comes to those heavily scrutinised SOV percentage figures.
Investing a little budget in creating some not too heavily branded infographics, which deliver some practical category advice, can help steer the piece for the journalist, and save them time and money by providing ready to use assets. Infographics should be simple – don’t over complicate them, but don’t be afraid to have fun with them.
Lifestyle photography is also a good way of helping out the journalist. They want to use something that looks nice on the page, rather than just products on a white background, so invest in getting some nice shots of your products.
Landing your message
Finally, it is important to make sure your content is working as hard as possible for you. Keep it industry focused rather than too focused on your brand by all means, but don’t forget that it still needs to land that key message for you. Weave this in in a clever way, by presenting your brand as the solution to a problem, or answer to a growing trend. Show that it is relevant to the conversation and has the authority to be seen as an industry leader, by backing your comment up with insight. Paragraphs of well written prose from your Marketing Director or CEO are great to have, but if they aren’t engaging and aren’t going to be remembered by the reader the next day, it begs the question, why did we bother?
Put yourself in the shoes of the reader, what is it that they want to see or hear – let this guide your comments and you’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to score a mention.
So, when it comes down to it, SOV is another measurement metric that has to be looked at in context. It’s all very well nailing it against your competitive set by saying the most, but if you aren’t engaging anyone, and no one is listening, it definitely isn’t as valuable. When it comes to securing coverage, build in imagery, back yourself with insight and look at the bigger picture, but ultimately bring it back to your brand – only then can you really guarantee that SOV percentage is working as hard as it can for you.