Q&A with MKR (formerly Raidious): How PR can adopt a nimble, data-led mindset
As the PR industry gears up for 2019, we talk to Raidious about their innovative data-led newsroom model.
PR is a rapidly changing industry. While the top eight PR firms have seen a 0.8 percent decrease in their revenue growth this year, small and mid-size have emerged victorious in 2018.
Raidious is one agency that continues to be nimble and entrepreneurial. The agency has embraced data to create “remarkable content that breaks through the noise”. Though small, Raidious is known for pioneering the 24/7 brand newsroom, and winning industry awards, along with the trust of their clients.
We asked Christos Reid, digital analyst at Raidious, to tell us more.
Can you tell us about what’s unique to Raidious’s approach to PR?
Christos: Rather than operating using a traditional agency model, here at Raidious we take the newsroom approach.
We rapidly aggregate not just content relevant to the brands we work for, but also huge amounts of data along with it, and this hybrid model of traditional agency headline gathering and social data analytics lets us engineer rapid, data-led responses to the stories that emerge day to day.
Can you tell us about a day in the life?
We have a lot of varied roles on the team, but for me as a Data Analyst, I’ll get in early that morning, and review my daily task list.
If we’re doing active listening for a client, I’ll jump into Spike, and start digging through the content to build a list of notable pieces, authors, and stats to help the brands we work with navigate the overwhelmingly fast-paced era of digital news.
After that, I’ll often be working on reports that deep-dive the performance of our clients on social, talking to tool providers, setting up new listening/search strings, and helping our accounts team answer detailed questions.
How important is social media to your work, and why?
Vital — our work is centered on social as the primary delivery method. The omnipresence of social networks has never been more important. Not only do people have the internet’s wealth of information at their fingertips, they can engage with it too — sharing, commenting, and even creating content quickly and easily in response.
By making sure we are experts in every single platform that houses a presence for the brands we work with, we enable them to keep up with the pace of social media users, and their need for quick information and ever-improving digital services, through the channels they use to learn and socialize.
What sort of differences are there for the different verticals you work with?
Our rationale has always been that most verticals are only different in their audience, messaging or level of industry governance. All verticals are speaking to people — just at different points in a user journey with different motivations.
Do you differentiate your campaigns across different platforms and audiences?
Absolutely — this is crucial. It’s often appealing to save time and simply use the same copy and assets across multiple channels — a one-size-fits-all strategy can feel comfortable for those strapped for resources, time especially.
But understanding everything from the right amount of emoji use to the perfect video length for each platform means that every approach we make on behalf of a brand, to its audience, is bespoke, and has a far better chance of feeling natural and accessible to said audience.
Understanding everything from the right amount of emoji use to the perfect video length for each platform means that every approach we make on behalf of a brand, to its audience, is bespoke, and has a far better chance of feeling natural and accessible to said audience.”
How does social data inform your strategy? How does that data change what you produce?
We are a data-driven agency, first and foremost. Not just because it’s an exact set of metrics, but because it allows us to draw insights from those metrics, and use them to influence our creative, our strategy, and how we weight things like our asset spread, or paid advertising spend.
With Spike, for example, it’s easy to point at the top posts for total interactions and say “well, those are the top posts for today.” But diving in — analyzing who shares those posts, at what velocity, and even how well that content is indexing against the site average, allows us to ensure we’re making improvements based on the story of that content’s performance.
Sometimes, “by the numbers” isn’t just cookie cutter marketing – it’s backing every idea you act on with solid stats.
On a day to day basis, how do tools like NewsWhip figure into your workflow and business?
I am our unofficial in-house Spike and NewsWhip evangelist, so it’s frequently my solution to a lot of problems.
On a regular basis, it’s a go-to for us if we’re keeping track of content as an ongoing for brands with an interest in their reputation, or their industry. But it’s also fantastic for campaigns with a finite beginning and end, and lets us rapidly collect coverage that would take far longer to do outside NewsWhip’s toolset.
Not only this, but I also use custom panels for myself, too – to stay educated on the latest developments in marketing and analytics, in a far more efficient manner than touring the same five news sites every week.
A sample dashboard in NewsWhip Spike of Gen Z outlets on the web, Facebook, and YouTube.
How important are these tools?
I think they’re very important – it’s one thing to explain to a client that Reuters coverage is a big deal, but it’s another to be able to show them that they’re indexing at nine times the average and that influencers X, Y, and Z are sharing that content to their audiences – and how big those audiences are.
It also helps us lend importance to smaller or newer articles, by analyzing velocity – allowing us to get ahead of stories before they’re too big, and too widely spread for us to act on as efficiently.
What are your challenges? How have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge when it comes to monitoring for brands and industries is not missing the trees for the forest.
Big, easy catch-all searches for high-performance content definitely have their uses, but a folder of ten focused Spike panels, each honed in on one aspect of a larger conversation, can sometimes provide data that is greater and more useful than the sum total a single more generalized panel can provide.
The biggest challenge when it comes to monitoring for brands and industries is not missing the trees for the forest.”
Learning how to delve deeper with more specific strings, and when to use a general search versus a series of narrow-focus ones, can make a big difference.
What have you mastered? Any tips for others? A secret recipe?
Don’t feel overwhelmed. The internet, and all the data that comes with it, contains a lot of noise, and it can be easy to feel like it’s impossible to find the stories about a brand’s reputation and content performance that are the most important. But we live in an era where advanced filtering can help us strip away the noise and hear what’s really being said.
Data analysis is like tending to a garden — you can’t just set it up and expect it to thrive perfectly if it’s left unattended. Maintenance and nurturing your data capture processes in the right direction can be the difference between missing crucial moments and becoming an omniscient force for good for the brands you work for.
Data analysis is like tending to a garden — you can’t just set it up and expect it to thrive perfectly if it’s left unattended.”
What are your goals? Is there anything you’re looking forward to in terms of new platforms, technologies, tools?
One of my biggest fascinations currently is voice search, and voice technology in general. It’s already affecting how we’re positioning content in a big way, with SEO pivoting to meet the new challenge of optimizing content to be findable via the way people talk, as well as how they type.
How that will impact engagement, headline structure and more as we move into 2019 is something I’m excited about. Also, I love being able to say “hey Google” and make a request and watch it happen in real time – we’re living in the science fiction worlds we grew up experiencing.
What do you think will become more important for PR in 2019? Less important?
I think celebrities single-handedly controlling the success of platforms is becoming a pretty important factor in how their audiences engage. Rihanna swung for Snapchat (and rightfully so) and they lost hundreds of millions of dollars in stock value in a week. Taylor Swift used Instagram to push for her generation to vote, and they did in such huge numbers that vote.org literally crashed.
It’s a big deal, and it’s encouraging platforms and brands to not only be sensitive in their messaging and strict in their moderation, but also to anticipate for things like huge traffic spikes driven by influencers on a scale that has never existed before. Site infrastructure now has to be a venue that can house a pop-up concert, so to speak — 2019 may see solutions rising to these challenges.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of a lot of the work we do at Raidious. In the context of this chat, I’d have to say one of my favorite moments was surprising the NewsWhip team with how I’d set up a series of panels to get Spike to pull information to assist our community media management team with regular news aggregation work.
It’s been really enjoyable to work with NewsWhip’s product and customer success teams to demonstrate the strange left-field uses I have for the tool, and to help influence it as it grows – the accessible and supportive relationship we have between our two companies has helped me to accomplish work I’m really proud of.
It’s been really enjoyable to work with NewsWhip’s product and customer success teams to demonstrate the strange left-field uses I have for the tool, and to help influence it as it grows.”
Thanks for the insights, Christos! For more, explore how PR can get ahead with predictive data in our report.