The Analytics Face of Today’s PR Industry: Three Things You Need to Know

By Jingxin (Jessie) Zhang, Account Director at PRLab

When we talk about PR, what’s the first word or phrase that comes to your mind?


[Source: Jon Ericson (2013). PR Word Cloud. Buchanan PR]

Hmm, looks like research and analytics are not on the top of that list. It is true that we associate PR with communication, but research and analytics are rapidly becoming the backbone of PR initiatives. Here are three things about research and analytics that will possibly shape and revolutionize our future careers as PR pros.

1. The rise of In-house research and analytics departments at PR firms

Many PR firms, including those on the top of the industry, have large, in-house research and analytics teams. Let’s name a few:

Research and analytics are the essential starters of the PR loop and the base for planning, execution, and result measurement. In addition to skills like writing, information searching, and strategic thinking, today’s PR pros may need the following expertise to advance in their career:

  • Primary research methods
  • Analytics tools (at least know how to read through the dashboard)
  • If possible, basic coding and HTML

2. PR pros need research and analytics to prove the effectiveness of plans and secure real results

For a long time, PR pros are proficient with secondary research, such as:

  • Searching competitors to come up with competitive PR tactics
  • Reading industry reports to keep updated about our key audiences
  • Following reporters on Twitter to update ourselves on recent articles and beats.

But PR pros need more to craft effective strategies. Today’s clients seek for much more than impression or coverage – they need tangible conversions and high ROIs more than ever. PR pros must strive to get stronger evidence to justify any planned initiatives and to prove that these moves will produce positive results (by the way, clients may also want the results all displayed in numbers).


[Source: Conversion Tips and Tactics: Three Simple Ways To Increase Conversions and Sell More. (2017)]

PR pros are able to generate primary insights without becoming a computer science expert. Tools such as Google Analytics, Sysomos, or Crimson Hexagon are now widely used by many communication firms to capture target audience insights, create and adjust PR strategies, track PR campaigns, and further measure the results in a timely manner. 

3. Digital era as the best opportunity for PR

PR pros are trying to predict the trends every day to earn better presence, increased awareness, or favorable engagement. We search what time will help us generate the most likes on social media. We create social media calendars based on popular hashtags. We check the blog traffic to decide the best time to publish new articles.

We only spent several decades to become highly digital and put aside all the channels through which we used to talk to our audiences. Society as a whole is gradually immersing itself in the cyber-land, and the rising generations even spend nearly one day in a week online.

Thanks to the digital era, we now can use data to better predict when and how to generate the best effects. PR pros now may worry less about the accuracy of self-reported data in traditional market research, as we can use analytics tools to observe the audiences when they conduct communication activities naturally (of course, we observe them in a proper and legal way).

The tools mentioned earlier are excellent ways to go, and many PR firms mentioned before come up with their own algorithm to create unique indexes for different research purposes. The opportunity to make PR initiatives further customized and targeted is just at our front door.

All in all, happy researching and analyzing, PR pros!


[Source: RED BULL GIF, Giphy]