Earlier this year NewsWhip was fortunate enough to add Hill+Knowlton Strategies in Singapore as a new client.  

David Soutoul, who is responsible for leading data and innovation projects across their regional hub in Asia, partnered with us to solve several communication challenges for a very large technology client who is transforming digital entertainment across SE Asia. 

For those unfamiliar, Hill+Knowlton Strategies is one of the largest public relations consulting companies, with over 80 offices across 40 countries. After 6 months of implementing news monitoring and reporting capabilities for their client, we wanted to check in on the team’s progression.

Brett Lofgren: Let’s start by understanding some of your client’s challenges. What were the obstacles they faced with coordinating communication and reporting across SE Asia?  

David Soutoul: Our client’s biggest challenge was to bring consistency in their coverage reporting across all eight markets throughout the region and to extract the right data to deliver valuable insights, which would allow us to tweak future campaigns.

As the regional agency hub, we created a more thorough reporting structure and defined the most important tools and metrics to report back on. This combination of processes led the way to better metrics-tracking consistency, a more efficient KPI measurement and a more insightful coverage performance analysis.

BL: Your client is very focused on tracking coverage activity, primarily driven off of press releases and earned media. What is your approach today and where do you see that evolving? 

DS: Our main role as the client’s regional PR agency is to ensure the coordination and distribution of their press releases across these markets with the help of our local agency partners.

Each market has the responsibility to track their local coverage activity and to centralize it under our platform. We then generate reports with the added layer of data visualization which offers the client an immediate overview of performance and opportunities. 

For some of our teams, the tracking and reporting on local coverage can be quite manual, with the help of NewsWhip we are in the process of using technology to automate our media monitoring capabilities and connect the dots at a regional level. 

For some of our teams, the tracking and reporting on local coverage can be quite manual, with the help of NewsWhip we are in the process of using technology to automate our media monitoring capabilities and connect the dots at a regional level. 

BL: What do you view as the important metrics to monitor for? What are the dots that need to be connected?

DS: We’re counseling our clients to move away from unreliable metrics such as reach, which is notorious for its inaccuracies. Third-party tools are usually providing monthly unique visits but those are either imprecise or not updated. On top of that, displaying the number of monthly unique visits of a website isn’t a complete representation of the actual life cycle of a piece of coverage. 

This is why we have started to focus more on metrics that are more engagement-centric. NewsWhip has been playing an important role in giving us the ability to track thousands of coverage URLs at a time to understand how much engagement our earned media has received on social media platforms. Understanding which coverage and social media pages drove the highest public engagement, enabled an extra layer of analysis for the client. Social engagement not only expands the client’s exposure, but it also allows us to dive further into public sentiment.

Understanding which coverage and social media pages drove the highest public engagement, enabled an extra layer of analysis for the client.

BL: Your client’s global footprint is quite large. In SE Asia alone, there are eight distinct regions and languages spanning from Lao to Thai, Vietnamese Malay, and various Chinese dialects. How do you monitor across these markets in real time?

DS: Yes, it is a real challenge to track coverage in so many languages. When it comes to social engagement, we obviously do want to track local in-market metrics as well and any local publication driving high engagement online. NewsWhip enables us to extract those engagement and sentiment metrics regardless of language.

BL: Your role at H+K is largely focused on measurement innovation. How would these types of initiatives positively impact client engagement? Can you share examples?

DS: Measurement innovation is a key area for our business. 

As an integrated communications agency, our campaigns usually run through various channels simultaneously. Through our existing Made to Measure™ custom offering, we help our clients evaluate and optimize their campaigns. My role at H+K is to spearhead those reporting solutions that can effectively capture, analyse and present large sets of complex data in a more simplistic way that is also visually appealing. 

Through our existing Made to Measure™ custom offering, we help our clients evaluate and optimize their campaigns.

The new reporting framework we’ve built for our client is also being shared across their organisation as a way to demonstrate performance to a wide group of stakeholders across departments. Therefore, while the primary users are the PR/Comms or Marketing teams, it is crucial to structure and present our reports in a manner that can also be understood by other teams internally.

BL: We’d like to thank David for taking the time to virtually sit down and talk with us about the importance of engagement metrics and delivering the right insights, as well as for Hill+Knowlton Strategies and their continued partnership.

Brett Lofgren

Brett Lofgren is the President and Chief Revenue Officer at NewsWhip. Brett directs overall growth and revenue strategy, helping brands and publishers use NewsWhip technology to grow their audience through social data.