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share of voice tips, share of voice pr metricShare of voice reigns as a popular and valuable metric for measuring the effectiveness of public relations. Share of voice can provide quantifiable data that illustrates how PR fares against competitors and helps demonstrate PR’s contribution to business goals. Although share of voice has limitations when examined by itself, PR pros can refine the metric to overcome those drawbacks.

PR measurement experts define share of voice as the percentage of all online content and conversations about your company or brand, compared to those of competitors. Media measurement vendors like Glean.info gather every earned news mention and social media post that includes your brand or your competitors and create a chart or pie graph that shows your slice of all media mentions. The graphic can be based on number of mentions, reach based on circulation/readership, or based on positive/negative sentiment. To get accurate share of voice results, you must monitor media for competitors’ names and brands as well as your own. The keyword searches must parallel each other.

Benefits of Share of Voice for PR Measurement

PR often aims to increase awareness of their company and products. But awareness is difficult to measure. Share of voice quantifies how PR impacts business goals and how its media placements stack up against competitors. The metric can also help PR set goals and plans and tweak strategies as campaigns move forward.

Share of voice can reveal your strengths and weaknesses. Digging deeper into the data can reveal what types of announcements or activities gain media coverage. It can uncover new media outlets to contact and competitors’ successful strategies to emulate, and tell you if media outlets and bloggers in your sector mention your company.

By showing clients or senior corporate executives how PR helps meet business objectives or where their PR falls short of competitors, PR can convince decision-makers to increase investment in public relations. “Business leaders, especially those in the B2B and SaaS space, make decisions based on hard data and numbers, so the more you can provide, the better chance you have of prolonging that investment,” says Heidi Harmon, an account executive at BLASTMedia.

Drawbacks – and How to Fix Them

Share of voice does have limitations. It only measures the amount of coverage, not the quality. It doesn’t take into account sentiment, where the brand name appears in the article, how many other companies may have been mentioned in the article, the publication’s readership, or other qualifying factors.

Sometimes less is more: Your share of mentions may be low, but the mentions may be favorable. Depending on your goals and desired audience, a single mention in a well-targeted trade publication may be more valuable than several mentions in general consumer publications.

Better Share of Voice Insights

Measurement professionals can compile more meaningful share of voice reports by ranking mentions by sentiment, publications’ circulation, reader quality, solo mention vs. mentions with competitors, and other factors. For instance, PR can assign a tier one grade to influential national publications or media outlets in a specific niche and give a tier two rating to local or generic media outlets. Measurement tools can also analyze share of voice in precise geographic areas or around certain keyword phrases.

Media measurement tools can analyze tone to grade sentiment of mentions on a positive to negative scale. While automated sentiment analysis can review large numbers of posts quickly and affordably, trained human analysts provide more accurate results. Some media measurement services like Glean.info can provide a hybrid approach, with human analysts spot checking automated assessments of media mentions.

If placing more thought leadership articles than competitors is your goal, a measurement tool can search and count only coverage that features the executive’s commentary, bylines from the executive or executive profiles, adds Kate Bachman, an account director at PR agency InkHouse.

“SOV is a flexible and useful metric when used correctly and in concert with other metrics and strategic considerations,” Bachman says.

Examine Media Coverage from Multiple Angles

“It is important to look at your media coverage from multiple angles,” advises Bethany Cramer, public relations manager at Marketing Works. “The amount of coverage secured is not the only available metric. It is essential to not only track your coverage, but to look deeper and compare your company to its competitors.”

Consider narrowing your search. Share of voice can become overwhelming if your sector is large. Try narrowing searches to particular areas of interest among your customers. Some share of voice computations consider only a select list of competitors. Discovering the top competitors enables you to figure out what portion of the market they’re attempting to influence, explains PR agency Walker Sands. You can also restrict your share of voice measurement to top tier publications, either consumer or trade.

Add share of search to your PR measurement, suggests Christopher Penn, vice president, marketing technology, at Shift Communications. Internet searches indicate customers’ intent, even though searchers don’t publically comment on the topic. Good AdWords can compare the monthly average volume of searchers for your brand to competitors. The Google keyword planner estimates the average monthly number of searches for a keyword. Google now requires AdWords users to meet AdWords minimum spending requirements to view detailed data.

“Share of search volume matters for all those people who are thinking about brands, thinking about choices, but not talking about them,” Penn says.

Bottom Line: PR measurement experts often analyze share of voice to learn how PR campaigns perform compared to competitors. The metric can provide especially meaningful insights if PR can dig deeper into the data and examine different components of media coverage.

William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.