How can PR Agencies Benefit from Social Listening and Big Data Analytics

One of the leading problems faced by PR agencies in the today’s era of the Internet is to

One of the leading problems faced by PR agencies in today’s era of the Internet is to deal with the abundance of information that is available online. Although the Internet has reinvented the idea of communicating information, PR agencies have generally lagged behind, in adopting these newer trends and technologies which have become an uphill battle for them now. The enormous amount of data available today can make it difficult for PR agencies to find what they are looking for.

Now, imagine if there was a tool with which you could refine this vast amount of data into exactly what you need for building your PR campaigns. From profiling customers to analyzing newer trends – everything would be much easier and more efficient for your PR agency. This is exactly what digital marketing tools such as social listening and big data analytics applications are for!

With the help of these tools, you can enhance your PR strategy to make it more efficient and reliable. When used properly, social listening and big data analytics can be quite useful for the PR industry. In this article, we take a look at how PR agencies can make use of these tools for building positive relationships with modern-day customers and digital influencers.

Social Listening For PR Agencies

There is a significant amount of responsibility on a PR agency, from tracking ROI and media relations to competitor analysis. Everything has to be carried out while keeping the clients satisfied. There is a tremendous amount of data involved in the entire process and it can be difficult to filter, analyze, and interpret data without the right tools. A PR agency needs social listening, for keeping track of all of these responsibilities. Social listening enables a PR organization to monitor its clients’ industry, for forecasting brand reputation and product trends quickly and effectively. Once you are familiar with social listening, you can utilize it, for analyzing data and making forecasts about any relevant topic.

Let us now take a look at how social listening can benefit PR agencies:

Spend Less Time on Monitoring

The problem with most PR executives is that there is a sufficient amount of responsibility on their plates. There is no time for them to be glued to their desktops or smartphones, for keeping track of what is happening because of the onsite events they need to be at and the many meetings that they have scheduled. As a PR executive, you have to be able to multitask and for ensuring that you are up to date with everything, you need to make use of social listening tools.

These social listening tools crawl through web pages and social media to deliver real-time alerts to you, regardless of where you are. These tools send alerts to you directly on your smartphone so that you can check them from anywhere, whether you are in the office, in a meeting, or at home. With the help of these tools, there is no need for you to manually check your website or social media to look for something that might be of interest.

With the help of social listening, you can learn more about your clients, their industry, and their competitors without having to manually scour through all the data that is available to you. You can find brand coverage and media opportunities within seconds through the use of social listening – saving you not only time but valuable money as well. If you are a PR agency that has a lack of staff that specializes in handling and analyzing data then social listening tools can provide you with everything you need for monitoring real-time activities related to your target industry.

Offer Valuable Business Intelligence

The reason that most brands hire PR agencies is to innovate and come up with ideas. There is nothing that a client loves more than to hear you share your recommendations. What they want is to know what exactly they need to do to stay ahead of their competition!

One of the most gruesome problems that are faced by PR agencies today is finding new ideas that not only guarantee success but are also innovative. For finding such ideas, a PR agency needs to know all about the newest trends for the brainstorming process. Imagine if you caught a new software that is to become the next big thing in the digital market?

Monitoring important publications, progressive companies, digital influencers, and keywords relevant to the industry can help you keep updated with the latest innovations and trends so that you can figure out what works and what does not in a particular niche.

The Competitors Are Already Ahead!


Most PR agencies today are already making use of social listening. Within the last half a decade, there has been a shift in the approach of PR agencies. The PR industry is gradually moving towards social and online media because it is a necessity these days.

Every PR agency needs to offer digital media expertise which includes social listening capabilities. In 2010, PR agencies grew their revenue by as much as 33% by utilizing social media. Basically, this is a way for PR agencies to support the rising needs of modern-day clients.

Remember, if you are not monitoring social media, someone else will be, which will eventually lead to lost clients in the very near future.

Measure Brand Exposure

A good way for keeping your clients happy as a PR agency is to stay on top of their brand coverage. An effective way of doing this is through the use of social listening, which allows you to track and monitor all activity pertaining to a brand that is made on the web.

However, you can take things even further by not only monitoring brand coverage but measuring the impact of your PR efforts, as well. Through the use of social listening, you can generate reports that track the following:

  • The success of the client’s blog, social media platforms, press releases, and campaigns.
  • Which PR effort is generating the most coverage for your client and where.
  • Customer tone or sentiment when interacting with the client’s brand.

This report will help you understand how customers are responding to a PR tactic or a product that has been introduced by your client. The feedback of a customer is categorized to be neutral, positive, or negative. Through social listening, you can understand if your client is advertising a product in the wrong manner and then rectify the issue.

Social listening makes it easy to generate reports, for letting your client know what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong, and how they can improve their tactics. It will help you enhance the PR tactics that you have on offer for your clients.

Prevent A Crisis


Approximately 30% of all company crisis turn into global ones in less than an hour, which means that it can be a huge setback for an organization. The key is to stay ahead of the problem so that you can take action before a problem turns into a crisis.

For instance, if you hear a digital influencer (such as a celebrity active on social media) criticizing a business or highlighting its flaws, you would want to eradicate the concern before it reaches out to millions of people via social media. For this, you need to be alert and active on social media so that you can see such concerns and protests as soon as they are published.

Through social listening, you can actively track such instances so that your agency knows about an impending crisis. What you need to look out for is a sudden rise in the number of mentions to your client’s brand, which is a warning sign for something that might have gone wrong. Knowing the problem before will provide you the luxury of having time to react to the situation before it turns into anything serious.

Keep An Eye On Competitors


As a PR agency, it is always important to impress upon your clients and there is no better way of doing this than to show them that you have done your homework. Most clients will expect a PR agency to come up with not only comprehensive ideas but an in-depth analysis of their competitors, as well. This can be a problem for most PR executives, especially if you are not aware of where to start off with.

Let us first begin by taking a look at what you want to achieve. Here is everything that you need to know about the major competitors of your client:

  • What is working for them and what is not.
  • What are they currently working on (product/service/strategy) and what they are not working on (compare it with your client’s product/service/strategy).
  • What makes them unique.

Now that you know what you need to find out about these competitors, let us move on to how social listening can help you out with this:

  • Take a look at the performance of these companies on the leading social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. Determine who is performing the best on these platforms.
  • Which company has the most positive mentions and why.
  • Their marketing campaign performance – what kind of feedback does it receive, what are the positive and negative aspects of their campaign.
  • What kind of feedback are they receiving on their products and services.
  • What are the announcements that have been made by the company.
  • General feedback from customers – a sentiment analysis could be performed to determine how the customers feel about the performance of a company.

A report incorporating all or some of the above points can be generated through the use of social listening. Imagine what you can achieve by knowing exactly what the competitors of your client are up to. For instance, if you see that a particular customer has complained or requested a product improvement, you can utilize the data to help improve your client’s product design, pricing, or marketing strategy.

Reach New Prospects

Here is an aspect of social listening that PR agencies can make use of for themselves (instead of helping them assist their clients). If you are looking for a new prospect or client to work with then you can populate a list of all the companies that you can represent. Searching for keywords related to your industry will help you find all of the companies that you can work with. Further refining the search to companies that are actually looking for a PR agency will help you in getting closer to booking a new business.


Here is how you can make use of social listening for finding new prospects for your agencies:

  • Make use of keywords related to your industry.
  • Follow the niche publications.
  • Take a look at your competitors – who are they focused on.
  • Monitor other entrepreneurs or agencies to find opportunities for partnering with them.
  • Find out where your prospective clients are found online (such as social media platforms) and contribute to them directly by providing them with helpful content there.
  • Observe the mentions to your prospects to determine who the digital influencers or decision-makers for your prospective client are – these are the people that you will be pitching, after all!

For pitching these clients, you need to realize the fact that every organization is looking for a PR agency that is transparent and has proof of its value. Make use of social listening to generate a report about your prospective client –including everything from analysis of competitors to customer sentiment and brand awareness to make a good impression on your clients.

Big Data Analytics for PR Agencies


Working with data can be an intimidating task, especially if you have to deal with huge amounts of it. However, when you are clear with what information are you focusing on, and the reasons as to why data analysis is worth your time, you will not only feel less intimidated but will also learn to become an expert in utilizing this data. This is exactly what is required from a PR agency – expertise in reviewing, analyzing, and using data that is provided to them.

Nowadays, most of the leading global corporations are already making use of Big Data Analytics in a number of ways – either for determining how to customize their products for the next season or to increase sales through personalized shopping tips for their customers. But this is not just the case with the world’s top organizations, everyone else is adopting this trend quickly, too!

According to a Gartner study, almost 75% of companies around the globe will be investing (or are at least expected to invest) in Big Data Analytics in 2016-2017. The question that arises here is: Are PR agencies a part of this 75 %? Well, if they are not then they are missing out on the chance to cash in something big.

Through the use of Big Data Analytics, PR agencies can achieve a number of benefits that include implementing PR campaigns in real-time.

A New Way for Telling Stories

One of the challenges that are commonly faced by PR agencies is to gather and process data for crafting PR campaigns for their clients. This process can be made easier through the use of Big Data Analytics. The information that you require can be found from a variety of sources: You can utilize your own data, your client’s data, or extract raw data from official institutes such as the National Statistics Institutes.

The difficult part is not about collecting this data – it is widely available on the Internet. Instead, the key is to determine how to analyze and present the data so that it is a strategic part of the PR campaigns. An effective way of representing the data is through the use of interactive infographics that allow the customer to get the message without having to read thousands of words of content. In this aspect, Big Data Analytics is a perfect way for adding to your client’s efficient content marketing strategies.

An Efficient Measurement System


Over the past few years, the PR section has been looking for a measurement system that can replace quantitatively indicated such as the AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent). Big Data Analytics can be a potential solution to this problem. By combining a PR agencies’ database with social network metrics and the media, Big Data Analytics will allow you to:

  • Identify the audience that you want to reach out to during a campaign (not just journalists, but the influencers and bloggers as well).
  • Create customized messages for each niche of the campaign (a process known as hyper-segmentation in marketing terms).
  • Establish qualitative and quantitative objectives that can help you measure how successful a PR campaign is.

A good example of the use of Big Data Analytics in measurements is the IBM Analytics tool that is capable of analyzing millions of social interactions to determine the consumers’ opinion regarding a particular brand, product, or service. One of the best features of the tool is its ability to report the results in an insightful and visual manner. Now, imagine if you, as a PR execute, had access to a measurement tool such as this – think of how efficient and easy would it be to present reports to the clients then!

Public Relations in Real-Time

Through the use of Big Data, you can manage PR campaigns in real-time. Collecting, processing, and analyzing the information that is available on the Internet allows us to know exactly which bloggers, influencers, YouTubers, or journalists mention our clients and when. This enables you to adjust the actions and messages of the campaign based on the feedback that is received from the users. You can make use of this strategy for small-scale testing, as well. Test out a concept locally within a limited area and observe user feedback before officially launching the campaign on a global level.

For instance, Barclays made use of the social media metrics that were provided to them by a PR agency before launching their new financial product called Pingit (an app for sending and receiving money). The team that was responsible for the campaign constantly monitored the negative mentions about the product on social media for improving the app and to prevent the complaints from turning into a reputation crisis. The bottom line here is that real-time social media analysis can enable you to enhance your PR campaign, improve the client’s product, and prevent negative feedback from growing.

Management and Business Development

Other than helping you improve the relationship with your client, Big Data can also be used for improving the efficiency of internal operations within a PR agency. With the help of Big Data Analytics, you can maximize the capacity for creating and taking advantage of new business opportunities. As a PR agency, you are likely to accumulate a high amount of data about customers, media contacts, market, etc. This data can be put to better use and can be better analyzed if it was accessible via a single tool. With the help of Big Data Analytics, you can take this massive amount of data and shrink it down to meaningful and valuable information only hence eliminating the ‘noise’ of unused data which not only occupies space on the agency’s servers but also hampers analysis and search.


For instance, you can make use of the information that you have collected for generating a 360-degree profile of bloggers, influencers, and journalists. This will allow you to know which media they work for, what are their contact details, what events they have attended, which spokesperson have they interviewed, and which questions have they asked. All of this comes under the vast domain of Big Data and can be very useful for business development. After all, one of the best assets that a PR agency can have is a strong networking and valuable information about the media.

With the help of Big Data Analytics, a PR agency can detect customers that would be interested in their services but have not reached out to them yet; research upcoming trends among customers to identify which market segments will create the most opportunities for obtaining new customers, and make use of industry sources such as the media for monitoring competition.

Push Towards Automation

Let us face it – PR professionals that are hassled with the million commitments and meetings that cannot simply spare sufficient time for gathering information, analyzing it, and generating an insights report. A PR agency cannot keep hiring newer professionals and purchasing newer resources for their data analytics. In today’s modern age of the Internet where there is a barrage of information on every niche available online, manual processes for collecting and analyzing data are simply not enough.

What you need is no more than two data specialists and the right tool for handling the responsibility of data and analytics in your agency. Big Data Analytics is the way that you need to invest in for automating processes such as creating media lists, basic analysis, tracking stories, and campaign reports. Rather than investing in hiring more specialists, it is advised that you equip your existing professionals with tools for Big Data Analytics to ensure better handling and efficient processing of the information available to your PR agency.

Provision of high-quality analytics results to your customers

After achieving that your PR agency has well-known customers, like celebrities, politicians, high impact brands, etc., the next step is to provide them high-quality analytics results, by using a social listening tool, such as Mentionlytics. The following figures depict the results from social listening analytics regarding Jamie Oliver, taken from the Mentionlytics dashboard.

Mentionlytics Dashboard-Jamie Oliver


The two plots above represent the number of mentions for Jamie Oliver during a selected time period (mentions per channel over time (day) and sentiment analysis per day). The title bar can be used to select different channels (Web, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) for which mentions are reported. By hovering over a data point you can see the exact number of mentions at the specific date for each channel. By clicking on any day at the mentions plot, you can see all the mentions from this day, stats, and a keyword cloud showing the most common words and hashtags for this specific time period.

Mentions geography below includes a map and a graph with the mentions per country (in percentage). With mouseover, a colored marked area on the map, the country, and the percentage of mentions appear. Also, by clicking on the country, you can filter the results.

mentions by geographical location

A figure with the most popular keywords and hashtags Jamie Oliver mentions is also available via the Mentionlytics dashboard. You can download (PNG or SVG) the keywords as a text list to use it in any way you like (ordered by the most popular ones first).

keyword cloud

In addition, a list of the Top Mentioners in social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram & Pinterest) and the Web, is also available in the Mentionlytics dashboard for Jamie Oliver. By clicking on a Top Mentioner, his profile shows up with details, such as followers/subscribers, mentions, the location and recent tweets, the number of posts/shares/likes, etc. Αfter selecting the campaign, the filter, the time and enable or disable the checkmark on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, the Top Mentioners of the selected channels are displayed with the following information:

  • Channel (Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube)
  • Profile (the colored line below shows how relevant the profile is in terms of followers. Clicking on, the profile is displayed
  • Followers = number of followers
  • Mentions = number of mentions (by clicking on the arrow they can be installed/descending order)
  • Description (biography on the profile)

Identify social media Influencers

Finally, the Top Keywords feature provides the most popular keywords (or only hashtags if you select this option) of Jamie Oliver’s mentions. You can reorder this list by Reach, Engagement, or positive/negative ones. The Top Country refers to the country, from which the most mentions including this keyword originate. You can also use the filters to see the top keywords/hashtags from only a specific channel (e.g. Instagram). If you combine this report with Marketing Leads campaigns you can find the most popular keywords/hashtags for a specific topic or industry! You can also combine it with a Competitor Campaign to instantly find the most popular keywords/hashtags your competitors use.


Employing social listening and big data analytics give your PR agency a definite advantage over the competition – both for serving your existing clients and finding new clients. However, it is important to mention here that you must not think of either of these digital marketing strategies to be rocket science. You are not required to invest thousands of dollars into the infrastructure and resources that are required for implementing social listening and big data analytics into your PR strategy. In fact, with the right information and the right tools at your disposal, you can harness the benefits of both of these without having to restructure your business!

There are numerous tools out there that automate and facilitate the process of social listening and data analysis that include Google Analytics and Mentionlytics. Just keep in mind that in order to improve your business, you need to know exactly what to do with these tools! You need to provide valuable insight from various channels for multiple clients, in real-time through the use of easy-to-run and easy-to-understand reports. All of this can be achieved if you make use of a powerful social listening tool and follow the guidelines that we have outlined for you in this article.

John Kopanakis

About John Kopanakis

John is a co-founder of Mentionlytics supervising Business Development and Business Processes. He is a Professor of Business Intelligence with interests in Data Analytics and Innovation.

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