The coronavirus has clearly altered how people act and how they feel about businesses and other organizations they patronize and support. That means brands will need in-depth communications measurement to form a new marketing and PR roadmap when lockdowns ease and the economy improves.
Measurement experts recommend that communications professionals immediately kick-start measurement work. Effective measurement informs PR and marketing teams about what customers think about their brands, how employees feel about their organizations, and how they can better communicate with those stakeholders. Measurement may show that organizations need to revamp their PR and marketing strategies, develop new messages, and perhaps new products and services to meet consumers’ new needs and preferences.
“A post-pandemic world may be the same, or it may be different,” warns Brent Diggins, managing director of measurement and analytics at Allison PR. “You can’t assume either. Therefore, the brands that invest in research, insights and optimization today will be the ones that accelerate the fastest in a post-pandemic world.”
“It’s the organizations that do the research that will be the fastest to recover. The ones that operate in the dark may find their businesses are no longer viable,” says PR measurement guru Katie Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing. Paine and other PR measurement experts outline these basic measurement steps to survive in a post-coronavirus world:
The Communications Measurement Path
Survey employees. Seek to determine how employees feel about the organization. Are they feeling connected or disconnected or lost or what? Do they love the independence, or hate the intrusion in their home of constant conference calls? Do they want to continue to work from home? Or are they biding their time until they find another job?
Survey customers. Find how customers’ views of your company and its product have changed, if shopping practices have changed, and if preferences for products have changed. Establish a baseline trust score. Repeat the survey again next quarter to find out if your trust has eroded or improved. Inexpensive solutions like Google Forms, Survata, Survey Monkey and others now allow even small organizations to conduct surveys.
“Your survey should challenge every assumption you had prior to February 2020,” Paine says.
Check on key stakeholders. Survey a key influential segment of your stakeholders to determine how they perceive your organization. Find if their habits are changing and if you can meet their changing needs with new products or services.
Seek competitive intelligence. Improve your industry and competitor insights. Your competitors may develop new marketing strategies and products and your industry may change, possibly forever. “Marketers or communicators that don’t monitor their industry and competitors in multiple channels are likely doing their entire organization a disservice, at best,” warns Diggins at Allison PR.
Measure social media ROI. When budgets get tight, you may need to make tough decisions about spending, says Susan Hallam, founder and CEO at Hallam. Some companies may consider cutting social media marketing, viewing it a time-consuming yet nonessential activity. But before they reach such a decision, it’s crucial to analyze how much social media contributes the bottom line in terms of engagement, visibility, and profitability.
Bottom Line: Attitudes of consumers, employees and other key stakeholders have changed due to the coronavirus. That’s why it’s essential for companies and other organization to complete surveys and in-depth social media analytics. Only comprehensive measurement will show if companies are meeting customer preferences in a changed economy.
Michael Kling is manager of public relations, marketing and social media at Glean.info, a media monitoring and measurement service that provides customized media monitoring and PR analytics solutions.