Social Listening: New report uncovers missed opportunities for PR professionals - ClickZ

30-second summary:

  • Social listening and analytics take-up is lagging, even while a great deal of PR occurs in the digital and social context.
  • Social listening has value for more than just campaign performance. There are opportunities for PRs to use it for: newsjacking, executive visibility, and crisis/reputation management.
  • Use of emerging metrics are growing. And so are budgets.
  • But lack of comprehensive tools which don’t offer analytics across traditional and digital channels are an ongoing frustration (and barrier).

In 2020 global public relations is an overwhelmingly digital practice, but a new report from Talkwalker has found that there are many gaps when it comes to measuring the success of PR messages online.

The latest State of PR 2020 report delivered in conjunction with YouGov gives a comprehensive overview of the global public relations landscape.

As the report shows, PR is certainly an exciting sector today. This is due in no small part to the emergence of social media management, content marketing, and influencer marketing as the leading PR offerings for businesses to make themselves heard.

These digital channels are providing a wealth of opportunities for messaging. But when it comes to analytics, PRs are still very focused on traditional media. And as we will see, there are many digital analytics opportunities being missed.

Overall take-up of social listening and analytics tools is lagging

Talkwalker have found that just 48% of global public relations professionals are using social listening and analytics tools – despite so much PR activity happening in the social media context.

Social listening

Digging down into the kinds of online metrics used in PR, there are gaps too. Vanity metrics such as advertising value equivalent (AVE) and earned media (Read more...) (EMV) remain prevalent (still utilised by over 40% of marcomms pros in some regions) even though they are widely discredited.

However, share of voice – defined as the share of conversations generated around a brand, product or service across channels compared to direct competitors – is being used by less than 20% of PRs globally.

Opportunity areas for social listening

Talkwalker’s data gives some useful insights into opportunities for PRs to get more from social listening.

Social listening

Social listening for newsjacking – the longstanding practice of PR messaging which relates your brand to a news story – is currently only being used by 15% of global marcomms professionals.


Similarly, when it comes to executive visibility – putting forward representatives from the brand as an authority in an industry – only 20% of PRs are using social listening to this end.

Another key area highlighted in the report looks at reputation and crisis management. Currently, just 8% of c-level executives are using listening tools and analytics to diffuse brand negativity on social channels.

What metrics are being used?

PR professionals in Latin America are leading the charge on emerging metrics.

Social listening

A majority of nearly 70% of LatAm PRs are reporting on sentiment analysis. This compares to a global average of just 40%.

Additionally, influencer analytics is seeing impressive use within the region – with over 50% of marcomms professionals using these tools.


For PRs across all global regions, the report finds that budget constraints are a key barrier to investing in social listening.

Social listening

With that said, public relations officials do anticipate increases in investment. 60% say that it is likely their business will provide bigger social listening budgets this year.

PRs are also highlighting a lack of available tools which can analyse both traditional and digital media messaging. When asked what they wanted from analytics tools…

  • 49% said they wanted ‘coverage of all channels’
  • 42% said they wanted ‘trend analysis on emerging themes’
  • And 41% said they wanted an ‘easy to use platform with good reporting’


The State of PR 2020 report offers a lot of valuable insight to PRs on how they could be getting more from their digital activities.

A vast proportion of PR is occurring on social channels, but less than half of marcomms professionals are using social listening and analytics tools. Share of voice lags behind other metrics for reporting – and even vanity metrics are still being relied upon.

Key opportunities for social listening to assist PRs are highlighted in newsjacking, executive visibility, and crisis/reputation management. There is clearly so much more value in social listening than just campaign performance metrics.

The future of online PR is certainly broadly positive, however. Influencer analysis and sentiment analysis are growing, even though the proportion of PRs using them can vary significantly from region to region.

Budgets are set to grow too, but there are still clear gaps in the market for social listening and analytics tools which offer a more comprehensive overview across traditional and digital channels. As these tools become more accessible, I’m sure we can expect to see share of voice and other emerging metrics take the place of old-school vanity metrics.

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