We can tell by our regular conversations with PR professionals and executive leaders that there is a huge appetite for a more data-driven approach to PR. People want to apply the same precision in determining the strategy and tactics that digital marketers now enjoy. But one challenge is that many in the field of PR are unsure about what should be tracked and how.
Fortunately, we have an excellent example of PR reporting done right. Slack is a popular cloud-based communications platform that teams use to collaborate and get things done. This report tells the story of Slack’s rocket ship growth from 2015 to Q3 of 2016 with interactive time graphs. It splits out featured coverage, showcases top performing content and benchmarks Slack’s brand awareness against broad and narrow competitive sets. Here are some highlights and analysis.
In Q3 2015 Slack's brand was uniquely mentioned 9k times. It is not surprising, given Slack’s astronomical user and revenue growth, that the brand enjoyed electric growth in organic media coverage with 18,135 unique mentions in Q3 2016. (Click any point in time on the chart to see the specific coverage.) In September, (more on why later) we start to see a significant uptick in Slack-centric conversation. The Slack PR team can be proud, on a weekly basis, Slack receives 700% more coverage than the tech industry average.
“Featured articles” are ones in which a brand is mentioned in the headline or five or more times in the article. Taking just a cut of featured coverage, we see Slack received an impressive 700 featured mentions, or 4% of their overall coverage, during Q3 2016. There was a large spike in featured coverage in the beginning of September. This was driven by Microsoft's announcement of Skype Teams, a competitive shot across the aisle to Slack. That’s a good reminder to track what impact your announcements have on your competitors.
Share of Voice
We looked at Slack’s share of voice with both a very broad set of potential competitors and a more narrow set of direct competition. Looking at Slack's broad competitive set that includes direct internal chat tools as well as business to consumer chat tools & video communication platforms, Slack owns about 4% of Q3 2016 overall Share of Voice. Skype owns a significant portion of mindshare with 50% SOV, and then Google Apps and Facebook Messager trail Skype with 25% and 21% respectively.
When compared to its direct competitors, Slack is in control of the conversation. Looking at direct competitors in the B2B communication space, Slack owns a significant piece of overall mindshare: 87% Share of Voice compared to HipChat, trailing far behind with only 9%. If we look back to 2015, the story is quite different with Slack only owning 55% Share of Voice and HipChat with 35%. The Slack team can feel very confident that their strategy for capturing the mindshare of the media is outperforming that of their competitors.
The report also reveals how frequently Slack is mentioned in the same article with each competitor. We see that 27% of Q3 2016 coverage mentions Slack and Skype together, indicating this is the one competitor the market is comparing most frequently with Slack. Google Apps and HipChat are trailing as seconds.
Key Message Pull Through
We know from the data above that Slack is being talked about a lot. That’s great (or maybe not), but are the messages that the brand wants to share getting into the market? The term “email” has the strongest key message pull through in Slack coverage with about 5k mentions or 27% pull through. That’s because people are positioning Slack as email's alternative rather than just a communication tool. Time.com even did a story called, “How Slack is Killing Email.” The “communication” message has about 2/3 the mentions that email does. Slack's brand positioning of making life simpler and more productive is resonating. Pleasant? not so much.
Slack's Q3 coverage was amplified one million times, with the top performing channel being Facebook, with LinkedIn as a healthy second. This is a good mix of both B2C and B2B audiences, which is very aligned to the Slack brand: a B2C tool for B2B.
By contrast, HipChat's content was amplified 1/2 as much as Slack in Q3 2016. Interestingly, if you looked at Q1 2016, HipChat was primarily amplified across LinkedIn, the B2B social channel. In Q3, this flipped, and their coverage has much greater resonance on Facebook (50% of overall shares). This is an important trend to note -- they may be shifting strategy to appeal to B2C audiences.
Sentiment measures the tone of the coverage, usually along the lines of positive, neutral, or negative. In Q3, Slack enjoyed a higher-than-average % of positive coverage compared to a typical B2B brand that would sit around 4-5%.
This report does an excellent job of highlighting Slack’s outstanding achievement. It also reveals some areas of opportunity. For example, while Slack is the upcoming darling in the tech industry right now, they have more work to do to increase CEO Stewart Butterfield's exposure and share of voice. Armed with this information, the team can craft a plan to capitalize on what’s working and improve what isn’t performing as well. That’s the kind of PR reporting that provides value and gets the right kind of attention.
*Remember, TrendKite focuses on quality over quantity and the mentioned report reflects that; read more here. If you have any questions about that, feel free to reach out!
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