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International association for the measurement and evaluation of communication
Category: Best measurement of a business to business campaign
Client/Entering Company: NEWTON Media Group
Campaign title: Revitalising Media Relations
Company Name: Tesco
A challenge in business communications doesn’t always mean confronting a crisis.
Sometimes it means confronting the fact that the way your organisation is communicating isn’t working as well as it could do.
To undo internal policies and push through change takes courage and persistence.
Understanding what you need to do and why you need to do it requires certainty.
You need more than a hunch to take the organisation with you.
You need proof.
The Czech subsidiary of international retailer Tesco is one of the top supermarket chains in the Czech Republic.
By the start of 2016 the company sensed that it was losing its competitive edge in the business media.
Other retailers were making headway and Tesco’s press team were aware that their company was not making the same impact in the media that it had in earlier years.
In the words of one retail analyst, Tesco was in danger of losing its top position, instead becoming ‘just part of the furniture’.
Tesco knew it needed a new approach to inject some dynamism into its relationship with the business media. It also knew it needed evidence to prove the need for change.
This was not an exercise in media vanity. The company believed that a re-energised media presence would build confidence with stakeholders and create new opportunities for the company to engage with employees, customers, suppliers, investors and regulators.
There were two objectives: to ensure that the new strategy was the right one, and to prove the benefits of a new approach to the wider business.
“Our company was undergoing transformation. We felt the need to change our communication methods and place more emphasis on corporate topics. Likewise communication channels keep changing and we wanted to adjust and use them based on the feedback we were getting from journalists.”
Václav Koukolíček, Head of Press, Tesco CR
Tesco and Newton Media devised a targeted research programme to analyse the company’s media environment, to make recommendations for the new media relations strategy and finally to measure the results.
The programme was structured into three separate phases with each element building on the insights gained from the previous research.
RESEARCH – Analysis of the media landscape across all channels to identify sources, authors, commentators and issues relevant to Tesco’s reputation and media profile. The initial research also analysed the performance of Tesco’s existing activities and assessed the quantity and quality of media outputs.
A parallel survey was incorporated into the research phase, to understand the attitudes and the needs of the journalist community through a wave of face to face interviews. The survey questions examined how and why journalists wrote about Tesco and identified their likes and dislikes about the company’s approach to media relations. Most importantly, the survey asked what the journalists wanted from Tesco and what the company needed to do differently in order to reassert its credibility with the business media.
ACT – The results from the first wave of media analysis and the journalist survey were combined to produce insights into Tesco’s true position in the Czech media and in the minds of leading media commentators. These learnings were debated internally by Tesco and incorporated into the company’s new media relations strategy in July 2016.
VALIDATE – Following the launch of the new media relations strategy, a second wave of media analysis took place over a six-month period.
The guiding principles of the research programme were derived from the Kellogg model, which defines communications effectiveness by measurement of input, activity, output, outcome and impact.
The timeline of the project was structured to allow the first wave of media analysis to measure the activity and output of Tesco’s existing approach to media relations. The interviews with journalists shaped the company’s understanding of outcomes and identified where change was needed.
The final wave of media analysis measured the impact of the new media relations strategy by confirming changes in the behaviour of journalists and key retail media outlets.
All phases of the research had a specific value to Tesco’s media strategy and measurement was embedded in each stage.
The methodology and process was co-created, and fully agreed, by Tesco and Newton Media.
The integrated framework made calculation of outcomes and impact possible. The project was based on realistic, attainable goals.
By scheduling the research over a calendar year, each stage was completed by an agreed deadline and was used as the launch pad for the next phase.
The extended periods of media analysis also allowed us to be accurate in our findings and to not be swayed by exceptional factors such as the Letnany hypermarket sale.
Media Analysis wave #1
The first phase of the project focused on the following elements of the framework:
Activity – The actions undertaken by the PR team to stimulate media interest and the materials used to support engagement (press releases, company website, social media etc)
Output – Coverage generated by Tesco across print, digital and broadcast platforms.
As Tesco CR’s strategy was geared to achieving behavioural change in media commentators, commercial metrics, especially AVE, were excluded.
The output analysis identified the most prolific commentators across business and specialist retail channels. The results were used to build the panel of journalists selected for face to face interviews.
Journalist and Retail Sector Interviews: analysis of outcomes, June 2016
To progress to an understanding of the outcomes so Tesco could progress to an understanding of CR’s media relations strategy, Newton Media conducted a wave of face-to-face interviews with leading business and retail journalists in June 2016.
The survey was conducted using in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Respondents were selected to give a representative cross-section of national and specialist media across all media channels. The composition of the sample group was cross-referenced with each individual’s media output and the media contact log held by Tesco CR.
Respondents’ answers were subjected to a qualitative analysis using analytical coding procedures, to identify shared attitudes but also to detect significant deviations within the group.
The survey’s principal aim was to identify the priorities and needs of Tesco CR’s target media audience, which would feed in to the company’s new media relations strategy.
Integration of media analysis and survey results
The results of the survey validated the findings of the first wave of media analysis by confirming that many journalists felt Tesco needed a new voice to improve its relationship with the media.
The survey also confirmed that the Czech media was unambiguously interested in developing better cooperation with Tesco.
Media Analysis wave #2: Validation of Tesco CR’s actions, August-December 2016
The second wave of media analysis was implemented after Tesco introduced its new media relations strategy.
The second wave used the same integrated framework as the first wave, to provide a consistent benchmark for detecting detected changes in media behaviour.
The results of wave #2 are detailed in the Effectiveness section and the supporting materials.
How Tesco acted on the findings:
Based on a detailed understanding of the Czech business media and the expectations of journalists, Tesco implemented far-reaching changes in July 2016.
More Engagement: The relevance of Tesco as a key player in the retail market was strengthened by a 44 percent gain in corporate media coverage in the six months after the launch of the new approach to media relations.
Tesco was discussed in much more precise terms, with more emphasis on specific aspects of the company’s business strategy and performance.
There was greater focus on local business activity and the company’s vision for the Czech market.
Better Quality: Favourability of corporate issues rose by 34 per cent, including important gains in positive reporting of the stores network, CSR and Tesco’s management.
Adverse media reporting of corporate issues fell 62 per cent, demonstrating the impact of improved relations with the media and the effectiveness of the press team’s work to contain media concern over the Letnany hypermarket disposal.
The engagement of the company’s management delivered a stronger narrative on new developments and future plans, so giving the media a much clearer and more confident understanding of Tesco’s direction of travel.
In November the new approach was tested by the announcement of the sale of a flagship hypermarket in Letnany, Prague.
The media relations team were able to prevent the story from overheating by briefing the media through the channels and processes introduced in July.
There had been speculation that the decision to sell a key property would signal Tesco’s withdrawal from the Czech market. Under the old media relations policy, the company would not have had the mechanisms nor the credibility to address these concerns effectively.
By using Newton Media’s integrated research framework Tesco formulated a new media relations strategy based on evidence and the needs of its audience.
In the six months after the release of the new approach, the company achieved gains in the quantity and quality of its media coverage and re-established its competitiveness and sense of dynamism.
Significantly, the company’s experience in November demonstrated how the new media relations strategy delivered effective support to operations and business outcomes.
Newton Media’s in-depth analysis enabled us to adjust our communication strategy so as to better reflect journalist needs. We also used the analysis to advise the company management on topics to be communicated in a better way. The analysis helped us to identify new trends in the field of communication. We shared results in presentations and debates with the company management and members of our communication team, as well as with our colleagues on other Central European markets. Based on the analysis outcomes we have reset certain components of our communication strategy so they reflect new corporate requirements and analytical needs. Journalists confirm in personal meetings that they have noticed a change in our communication ways; we are more open on corporate topics.
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