Before the internet, PR accomplishments were measured by how many magazine or newspaper articles you could gather that mentioned your brand.
Today, more complex data informs PR professionals of their success. Business leaders and clients demand quantitative measurements, such as web traffic and click-through rates. Compiling these metrics can be overwhelming, but also incredibly insightful.
One popular gauge of these data is a company’s “share of voice“—or how your PR efforts stack up against competitors.
Defining ‘share of voice’
Power Post defines share of voice as “the percentage of the market a brand holds in a given time period compared to that of its competitors.” In other words, if you were to round up every article mentioning either your company or your competitors and create a pie graph, how big of a slice would your organization get?
Many companies offer “brand awareness” as a reason to spend on PR—however, brand awareness is difficult to quantify. Share of voice provides a way to look at media coverage on a deeper level and evaluate whether the brand is being referenced enough in material directly related to your industry. Analyzing a brand’s share of voice also provides tangible data that can help with ROI evaluations and strategic planning.
You can always measure share of voice manually. However, there are a number of tools that help with the process, including Cision and TrendKite.
TrendKite’s share of voice measurement tools allows PR teams to see how much mindshare they own compared to competitors. (Image source: blog.trendkite.com)
Using share of voice
This metric can do more than just illustrate how you stack up against your biggest competitors. Digging into the data that makes up your share of voice can help with planning and goal setting, as well as adjusting outreach mid-campaign and communicating success overall.
Share of voice can act as a great starting point to set goals for the future. Gaining a better understanding of where your organization sits today is essential before considering any change in strategy or tactics. It can also illuminate where strengths and weaknesses lie.
Share of voice can also help in planning or adjusting outreach if you see others earning media coverage in areas you have neglected to focus. If a competitor has a larger share of voice, digging into their coverage can provide direction for new media outlets to target. If your competitors are seeing more earned media success than you are, it might also be an indication that your message or outreach strategy needs an adjustment.
It also highlights any success. Tracking and sharing results is essential if you want clients or executives to continue investing money into PR efforts.
Looking beyond metrics
Calculating share of voice can be very helpful in measuring the success of PR efforts. However, the results can be very two-dimensional. After all, it’s only one metric.
One issue with share of voice is that only measures the amount of coverage, not the quality. It doesn’t take into account sentiment, where the brand name appears, how many other companies were mentioned in the piece or a variety of other qualifying factors.
For example, there could be a scathing review in The Wall Street Journal for your brand that syndicates to other media outlets and earns millions of potential media impressions and, consequently, a large part of the conversation among your competitors. In reality, owning the share of voice in that instance was more detrimental to your organization than helpful.
There could also be moments when your brand’s share of voice is lower than desired, but the media placements you did secure are very strong. After all, depending on your overall business goals, several mentions in various publications could mean less to the brand than a very niche, on-message piece of coverage in a trade publication specific to the industry.
How are you using the “share of voice” metric to measure your campaigns, PR Daily readers?
Kimberly Jefferson is a VP at BLASTMedia.