At the heart of every effective communications program is understanding how your brand is performing in the media compared to your competitors. This metric, called share of voice, often tops the list of a marketer’s target key performance indicators (KPIs). However, when not analyzed properly or not combined with other metrics that tell a more holistic story of your brand’s media performance, share of voice can often just be a shiny object — one that distracts marketers from making meaningful decisions about their comms programs.
But fear not. Analyzing share of voice doesn’t require a data analyst or dedicated research staff. With the right insight and measurement strategy, you can use share of voice to inform smart decisions about your communications program.
Below, we discuss INK’s recommended two-step approach for using share of voice to positively impact your comms strategy — and run a successful program.
Step 1: Measure and Analyze Share of Voice in Tandem with Other KPIs
The most important consideration when examining share of voice is to not view it as a single indicator of your program’s success. It’s not a standalone KPI, but rather a measurement of the presence you and your competitors have — big or small — in relevant media reporting.
To that end, we suggest examining the following metrics in tandem to garner a more holistic picture of how your brand is performing within your comms program:
Frequent vs. passing mentions:
Determine if your brand was prominently featured in a piece of coverage (high value), or if you were simply mentioned once among other brands (usually low value). Remember: Earning less coverage with frequent mentions can be more impactful compared to earning a higher volume of coverage with only passing mentions.
High- vs. low-impact publishers:
When it comes to earning quality coverage, you want the right publishers to pay you mind. Meaning, if a competitor is earning coverage from obscure or syndication-based news outlets, they’re getting low-impact coverage from low-impact publishers. Pro-tip: Aim for high-impact publishers, which can range from national, mainstream publications to trades with targeted and relevant readership.
Patterns of peaks and valleys:
Does a competitor consistently earn more coverage than your brand, or do you alternate in leading? Earning more consistent media coverage over time can be a more valuable win compared to competitors who have spikes in coverage but then quickly taper off.
Positive, neutral, or negative sentiment:
Not all press is good press. And negative sentiment, when coverage positions your brand in an unfavorable light, is not how you want to lead in share of voice. Pro-tip: If you’re not analyzing brand sentiment, you’re likely looking at an inaccurate or incomplete view of the metric.
Trends in keywords:
Use Cision or other media tracking tools to find out which keywords are appearing frequently in your competitors’ coverage. This insight is helpful for two significant reasons:
- If a competitor is making headway in gaining positive share of voice using messages your brand is trying to own, you can adjust your current media strategy to intervene and hopefully, edge them out of the lead.
- If you notice media focusing on a specific keyword, you can pivot your comms strategy to ensure your media messaging aligns with current coverage.
Trends in coverage drivers:
What type of content is getting the most media attention? Is it thought leadership content? Interviews with subject matter experts? Identifying trends like these within your competitive landscape, and understanding their significance, will help you make better, more informed decisions about your comms program.
Step 2: Use Measurement Insights to Inform Your Comms Strategy
Now that you’ve established the best way to measure share of voice and related KPIs, it’s time to use this insight to make strategic and data-driven decisions to inform your communications program strategy — and propel it to success. In particular, there are four crucial decisions we recommend you make once you’ve done a full share of voice analysis.
Which priority media contacts to target
One of the smartest ways to determine who should be writing about your brand is to figure out who is reporting on your competitors. Through your share of voice analysis, you might have discovered journalists (and publications) you hadn’t previously encountered. Start here. Target these individuals as subject matter leaders for topics you’re trying to own or verticals you want to break into. You can also target the journalists who frequently cover your competitors. Doing so may land your organization more frequent mentions, effectively edging out your competition.
How frequently you’ll publish announcements or media campaigns
Your analysis might show a competitor has a significant media advantage simply because they make more noise with company announcements. If this is the case, analyze if the coverage they’re receiving from these announcements is actually valuable. Is the coverage detracting from your brand’s opportunity to have a leading voice? (Remember: Press release syndications, aka postings of PR announcements released on a news wire service, can be noisy. However, this typically results in unseen clutter versus visible, quality coverage.)
If this is the case, use it as an opportunity to present the findings to your senior leadership team. During your meeting, urge them to invest more budget or attention in improving your company’s current news pipeline and media strategy. If this isn’t an option, don’t give up. There are other ways you can make your own news. For instance, plan a coordinated media campaigns that feature original data. Or, you might publish an industry report, survey, or insightful commentary on hot news trends.
When to launch competing thought leadership campaigns
Through the process of measuring your brand’s share of voice, you can more easily spot patterns in competitors’ thought leadership campaigns. This will help you strategically plan your own. We’re big fans of thought leadership at INK. Not only does a thought leadership campaign give brands the opportunity to offer a bold point of view or contrarian industry opinion, but it’s also one of the best ways to earn peaks of coverage in between significant company news.
How to alter your messages to align with media interest (and differentiate from competition)
It’s always informative to gauge if your messages are resonating with press or overshadowed by competitors. At INK, we conduct this type of analysis to quantify message pull-through scores for clients. We also refer to the analysis to provide insight about other terms competitors are using. To stay ahead, ensure your messages strike the delicate balance of aligning with current media narratives while remaining differentiated from the crowd.
Analysis and Strategy: A Symbiotic Relationship
At INK, we believe analyzing share of voice and running a successful communications program go hand in hand. You can’t create a strategic program if you haven’t first done the analysis. And while share of voice is only one of many KPIs you should measure to run a more strategic and data-driven communications program — it’s one of the most important metrics in any marketer’s toolbox.
Ultimately, analyzing share of voice doesn’t have to feel like a thesis study in order to gain valuable insight; it can be as simple or detailed as a marketer needs. Once you’ve solidified your larger program goals, work backwards to create a strategic plan of action with your team. We promise you’ll see results.