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AI for Strategy, Measurement, and Monitoring with Dan Gaynor

By On Top of PR

On Top of PR podcast: AI for Strategy, Measurement, and Monitoring  with Dan Gaynor and show host Jason Mudd episode graphic

In this episode, Dan Gaynor joins On Top of PR host Jason Mudd to discuss the importance of a company narrative, how to craft and measure a narrative, the future of corporate narratives, and much more.


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Short Guest Bio

Dan Gaynor is the co-founder of Kelp Data, the first AI-powered platform for corporate reputation, which was acquired last year by Signal AI. Serving nearly half of the Fortune 500, Signal AI's data analytics platform delivers industry reputation insights and benchmarks hundreds of companies — enabling communications and marketing executives to shift their strategies, capitalize on emerging opportunities, or mitigate new risks. Dan oversees Signal AI Strategic Solutions, which is the company's insights division, and works hand-in-hand with CCO's, CMO's, and CEO's to shape strategy and deploy AI across industries like big tech, pharma, and sustainability.


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5 things you’ll learn during the full episode:

  1. Why every company needs a personal narrative
  2. How to craft and measure your company’s personal narrative
  3. What the future of company personal narratives look like
  4. Current company narrative trends and what to avoid
  5. How to utilize AI to measure your company’s work

About Dan Gaynor 

Dan Gaynor is a founder of Kelp Data, the first AI-powered platform for corporate reputation. The company’s data analytics platform delivers industry reputation insights and benchmarks hundreds of companies — enabling communications and marketing executives to shift their strategies, capitalize on emerging opportunities, or mitigate new risks. Kelp was acquired by Signal AI, which serves 40% of the Fortune 500, in July 2022. The deal brings together industry corporate reputation insights with Signal’s tech stack and global data sources, enabling enterprises to better understand where their reputation stands and how to strengthen it.



  • “What we found over and over again was that the human being had an incredibly powerful role in shaping what the AI output would look like.” - Dan
  • “We had to create industry-agnostic topics defined by human beings who would then train an AI to call back any piece of content across the world that that concept would relate to.” - Dan
  • “AI is the only way that you can get to the necessary level of breadth and depth.” - Dan
  • “Either you define your narrative or the marketplace defines it for you.” - Dan
  • “One of the things that we've seen is that data is not just a thermometer; it is a guide in terms of how to act. The most successful organizations deploying our insights are the ones that take them, have a strategy meeting right after, and operationalize them across functions.” - Dan
  • “If we have data on this, let's follow the data. If we don't have data, let's follow your recommendations.” - Jason


Episode Resources:

Additional Resources from Axia Public Relations:

Episode Highlights

[03:43] Dan’s experience with AI

Dan Gaynor: “We had to create industry-agnostic topics defined by human beings who would then train an AI to call back any piece of content across the world that that concept would relate to.”


Dan Gaynor: “What we found over and over again was that the human being had an incredibly powerful role in shaping what the AI output would look like.”

  • Started dabbling in AI at Nike
  • AI helped them index companies.
  • Extensive trial and error to find the best ways to measure a company's reputation from their communications using AI
  • Two families of AI right now
    • Generative AI
    • Discriminative AI (What Dan focuses on)
  • The future of AI is the fusion of generative and discriminative AI.

Dan Gaynor: “AI is the only way that you can get to the necessary level of breadth and depth.”


[13:49] User Experience with Signal AI

  • Signal AI offers:
    • Monitoring
    • Reports
    • Dashboards 
  • Signal AI about reputation analysis through:
    • Dashboards: your rank vs. competitors
    • Reports: analysis reports for C-Suite professionals

[17:00] Why does every company need a narrative?

Dan Gaynor: “Either you define your narrative or the marketplace defines it for you.”

  • A company narrative is your north star.
  • It provides consistency in the marketplace and helps guide your campaigns.

[17:56] How do you craft and measure a company narrative? 

  • Gather data to see how you are perceived in the public world.
  • Figure out where your opportunities are and what your risks are. 
  • AI can help figure out your strengths and weaknesses as well as strategies to accompany them.

[19:13] What does the future of crafting and measuring a company narrative look like?

  • Being data driven is essential.
  • Bringing talent into your company and team
  • Have a customized data system for you and your company.
  • Incorporate behavior change due to the data you find.

Dan Gaynor: “One of the things that we've seen is that data is not just a thermometer, it is a guide in terms of how to act. The most successful organizations deploying our insights are the ones that take them, have a strategy meeting right after, and operationalize them across functions.”


[21:00] Current trends 

  • Greenwashing is a bigger reputation threat now than ever.
  • Big promising visions are out. Being able to explain how your vision benefits your company’s consumers is in.
  • Establishing your C-Suite executives as thought leaders in the industry 


Jason: “If we have data on this, let's follow the data. If we don't have data, let's follow your recommendations.”


Dan Gaynor: “In God we trust, and everyone else bring data.” 


[26:40]  Where do you see your company and work in 3 years?

Dan Gaynor: “I'm very excited about the ability to use AI and data to inform a much broader array of C-suite decisions than just the comms and marketing angle… I think going forward we're going to see that talent is necessarily going to have to demonstrate that they're AI native or at least AI conversant in terms of being able to get a better job or promotion.”


Dan Gaynor: “And then the last thing I would say is that we're going to continue this is my high tech. We're going to continue to see the need for human beings to partner with AI. I'm optimistic that I won't necessarily create massive job losses in the near term future, but instead will be a real partner to free up people, real human beings from time-intensive tasks that they may want to reposition themselves in terms of their day-to-day lives.”


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Hello. Welcome to On Top of PR. I'm your host, Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations, and today I'm joined by Dan Gaynor. He is the co-founder of Help Data, the first AI-powered platform for corporate reputation, which was acquired last year by Signal API, serving half of the Fortune 500 Signal ACE Data Analytics platform.



Delivers industry reputation insights and benchmarks for hundreds of companies, enabling communication and marketing executives to sift through their strategies, capitalize on emerging opportunities, and mitigate risk. Wow. That's awesome. Dan, welcome to the show. We are glad to have you today. How are you?



Fantastic. Thanks for having me.



Good, good. So you're the founder of Data Signal Insight. Ah, see me? Signal A's first acquisition and now you lead the Insight division at Signal AI called Strategic Solutions.



That's right.



How did you get into this line of work? What made you decide to start Kelp and what were you doing before that?



I'll give you a little bit of my career history, which was effectively a domino of frustrations that we couldn't measure the narrative impact that we were making with our communications across the omni-channel landscape. I got started as a presidential appointee in the Obama administration. I worked on foreign policy, and my big project was the Ebola epidemic helping individuals across the country understand that this was under control.


And let me tell you, in terms of pandemics, Ebola is far scarier than COVID. And then from there, the governor of Maryland shaped a policy platform as he ran for president, then went to the private sector and helped start Nike's narrative team, called their Narrative Center of Excellence, working for their CEO and their CTO, their CMO, and across the executive team to help craft a unifying narrative for one of the world's biggest brands.


From there, I ended up starting a practice called Narrative Strategy and Analytics at Weber Shandwick and worked with everybody from IBM to Johnson and Johnson. And across all of those experiences from the U.S. government to within the walls of the Nike campus to consulting some of the world's biggest companies. I saw over and over again that every company needs a narrative.


They need this Northstar for communications, but they have no idea how to use data to shape that strategy, let alone measure the impact of it and of course, optimize as they proceed. So as the conversation shifts, how do you create a narrative that's differentiated versus all your competitors at a time when everybody wants to push out similar messages from sustainability and ESG to innovation and investor relations, right? Given that frustration, I quit my very comfortable job with a lot of consultation from my wife and teamed up with my co-founder Shan to start Kelp Data.



Okay, that's a great journey. I appreciate it. That's how I got into the PR agency business is frustrated with my experience as a client and looking for new and better ways to provide PR solutions to companies like mine that I was employed by who were just looking for the agencies to deliver what they promised and have some meat to go along with that sizzle that they were offering.



So it's a good way of putting it.



Yeah. Yeah. So, hey, we're here to talk about AI for strategy, measurement, and monitoring. Three topics that I love to talk about. Maybe her four topics? I guess so. Dan, when did you first start dabbling in AI?



I started dabbling in AI during my time at Nike, right? And this was nascent. A lot of people would tell me when I started dabbling in AI, why do you need this big data stuff when we have surveys or focus groups or market research? So some of these legacy systems that people inherently trust because they've been around for decades, right, were one of the big reasons that I want to start dabbling in AI, and anyone who's watched a recent presidential election understands that polls and surveys and market research have real limitations.


They offer real value in offering that qualitative feedback, but real limitations in that. I couldn't ask that many people about that many companies and that many topics that many days in a row. And once a survey or a piece of market research was delivered to me, it was static, it was locked in time and it grew less relevant over time.


As we move further and further away from the delivery date, what I helped us explore was the idea of indexing companies on their reputation versus not only their industry peers but also across industries, because as we now know, narratives themselves are competitive territories. IBM competes on being the leader in sustainable innovation against not only Microsoft but, say, Tesla as well. Coca-Cola wants to know how to be the industry leader in recycling and ESG just as much as a salesforce, which of course is devoted 1% of its profits to being a purpose-driven company. So I wanted to understand what could we decode from companies both adjacent to our business, but also aspirational peers, and then figure out the right ways to deploy a strategy against the findings and then check in with it to make sure that we're making an impact over time.


So I've been exploring AI for several years, teamed up with my co-founder four or five years ago, and we decided that once we met Signalé, it was best to join forces because they have this world-class tech stack data library capabilities. For the last 10 years, they've been building as an AI-native company. And today we use that same technology to drive C-suite insights for some of the world's most sophisticated businesses.



Thanks. So going back to your initial journey in dabbling in AI, what was the outcome? Did it go the way you expected? Did you get what you wanted? What were some of the early limitations? And just talk more about that.



Did you get what you wanted? The key caveat is over what period? I assure you, when we first started, it was very unpredictable because what we were doing wasn't just indexing companies on topics we had to train those topics, define those topics, and then see what were those topics.






For example, when you say R&D, that means something incredibly different to Pfizer than it does to Ford. And so we had to create industry-agnostic topics defined by human beings who would then train an AI to call back any piece of content across the world that that concept would relate to. And you can imagine that's very, very tricky when it gets to something like diversity and inclusion or sustainability or confidence in your investment horizon.


And then you have to do it for industry-specific topics. So within pharma, it can be about gene therapy or cell therapy within FMCG or CPG. It might be about sustainable manufacturing. So what we found over and over again was that the human being had an incredibly powerful role in shaping what the AI output would look like. Then we had to create a scoring system looking not just at the size of the conversation, the volume of it, but maybe the sentiment of it, the salience of how well your brand is mentioned versus others in a piece of content, and then weigh all that in a competitive environment that responded dynamically to the media coverage, the conversation that we were seeing in the marketplace, all of those components, as you might imagine, from training topics to creating the scoring system, was a lot of trial and error all while we were early in our entrepreneur journey.



What you're describing sounds like to me a common theme of challenges facing companies who are entering into measurement and trying to measure PR. And so I sense that you would agree there are some similarities.



Absolutely. I mean, fundamentally, that's what we're doing. We wanted to understand the impact of a company's entire set of communications and business actions on its most valuable asset, which is its reputation. So that starts by quantifying reputation and normalizing it to compare apples to apples, whether it's within your industry or across industries. And then we needed to decode why we needed to be specific enough with the signals that we were surfacing so that we could come up with very actionable insights in terms of what message is, what channels, what executives, what conferences, you name it, to deploy again so that you could move your reputational needle more competitively across the landscape.


And nowhere does this come to life more than in PR, comms, marketing, investor relations, ESG, and those sorts of things, which is the sort of customer set that we serve.



I imagine that AI is the AI tool that companies are starting to use and will be using and, you know, five or 10 years from now, we'll make this whole process much easier.



Definitely. Well, we look at AI through two lenses. There are two families, so to speak, that we think about and to be clear, have been around for a very long time. Some of this stuff is even over my head, but there's generative AI which very much captured the conversation and where it's effectively a prediction engine, right? Predict the next pixel to create this beautiful piece or predict the next word to write a great poem.


That's why those generative AI platforms are very easy to interface with because it's natural language. You're simply typing questions but also are prone to hallucination. They're not necessarily always focused on accuracy. The AI family that we're focused on here at Signal AI is called discriminative AI. It's about making sure the data that you recall from the system is as accurate as possible. So for measurement, for monitoring, for strategy, for optimization of comm strategy across the board, discriminative as very helpful and understanding is what we're putting out into the world resonating of all the spaghetti we're throwing at the wall? What sticks and where should we really lean into strains and more importantly, prioritize to act more efficiently? And we believe the future of AI for communications, in particular, is the fusion of those two families, right?


A natural language interface where you can chat with the data through generative AI, but with the trustworthiness of discriminative AI to ensure that the metrics, but also the content you're getting back from the data is as accurate as possible. Sure.



Yeah, that's been the big challenge, I think at least with the generative AI tools that most people are using that are more consumer-facing, if you will, or more end-user facing, and is the reliability of the information that it's being generated back to you.



Absolutely. Think about it this way. It's this a different part of your job? If you want to save time with writing a press release or a blog post or by the way, generative AI works well for creating PowerPoints these days. Those are tools that you should use to amplify your impact and honestly, just move faster. But if you want to understand what works, we have spent years upon years tweaking tools grounded in discriminative AI, which means for example, training topics that very much become IP training entities, which could be companies or people to make sure that we're calling, say, for example, Apple, the company data, not Apple, the fruit, mentions on the Internet and then thinking about different ways to do analysis. 


So it might be an analysis of how well an executive's communications are lifting a company's reputation. It might be a topic deep dive where we look just at a competitive landscape or an individual topic like how generative AI is going to disrupt your business. Or maybe we zoom out to look at, say, 200 topics across 200 companies and in that horizon scan, understand what risks, but also what opportunities pop up.


So you can navigate around icebergs that might affect your competitors, but also seize opportunities while there's still a whitespace. And I believe that AI is the only way that you can get to the necessary level of breadth and depth. What I mean by that is the breadth, which means being able to scan the entire environment very hard to do in a survey, and depth, getting that real deep, highly specific insight not into a high-level ethereal topic, say like we should be more sustainable, but zooming in to a very, very specific sub-topic within it, saying like off-grid renewable energy to make sure that we're focused on the most authentic proof points that our business can offer, regardless of what industry in and regardless of what channel we're pushing it out on.



Okay. So, Dan, when your organization is working with clients, are you what kind of what's your process and what's their user experience like? Are they purchasing software from you or are they purchasing consulting for you from your organization? Is it a combination? Help me understand that a little bit more.



Sure. We're typically offering three things here at Signal eye monitoring reports and dashboards. From a monitoring standpoint, Signal AI is well-respected and well-regarded for having one of the world's best media monitoring platforms that understands a very commoditized and competitive space. But Signal AI being AI native allows us to have an incredible grasp of a very impressive global data library.


Signal collects about 2 billion media data points a year, ranging from paywalled sources like the Financial Times down to small local industry outlets, tens of thousands of podcasts, broadcasts, blogs, forums, and even social. So very authoritative on what's going on, piece of piece of things. And then as you scale up, we think about reputation analysis from two formats. There are dashboards that allow you to understand relative to your industry how well you're performing, so we'll rank you versus your competitors, not only overall, but down to pillars like innovation. And within those particular topics, say, like R&D, IP operations, manufacturing, and quite literally hundreds of other ones. And then the real hero product for executives happens to be reports. We understand that the c-suites we serve are quite busy, so we'll create analysis reports at various layers of depth and various cadences.


So a typical engagement with us might look like, say, quarterly and reputation reports for quarterly topics, deep dive reports into a particular area of focus, a set of dashboards to help you understand where your reputation sits relative to the industry, and also a medium on ring tool so that you can stay on top of the drumbeat of news affecting both your business, your industry, and your aspirational peers.



Excellent. And so we'll be back with more with Dan. We'll be talking about trends and narratives and messaging the importance of that and how we can use those things in the business of communication. So with that, we'll be right back on the other side with more On Top of PR.



Welcome back to On Top of PR, where we're talking about descriptive AI for strategy, measurement, and monitoring, we're joined by guest Dan Gaynor. Dan, welcome back, and appreciate you being here. I know we want to talk a little bit about narrative and messaging. I want to talk about some trends and what we're seeing in the future.


And a couple of other things in the short amount of time we have left. So, Dan, what does every company need? Why does every company need a narrative?



Well, either you define your narrative or the marketplace defines it for you. A narrative. To be clear, the way I define it is it's a North Star for communications. It is a batch of a select group of deep storylines that your company will continue to campaign on month after month, quarter after quarter, year over year. And the storylines are buffeted by proof points from the business.


So, for example, your innovation storyline for our Q1 will be very different than it is in Q4 because the products you’re coming out with are different. But what's key is that you have consistency in the marketplace and without that consistency, you allow your competitors, the industry, and the media, to define what your company stands for. And today there is nothing more important in terms of managing reputation than knowing clearly and consistently what you stand for as a brand.



Yeah, absolutely. I agree with that. So how do you go about crafting a narrative and ultimately how do you go about measuring it?



Well, you know me; I'm a big believer in data. What I believe you need to do is scan the Verizon map yourself across hundreds of topics and dozens of peers to understand how you are perceived, not your internal message grid, not your own internal communications priorities, but having the most accurate mirror possible of how you are reflecting in the actual public consciousness.


How are you perceived in the public marketplace in other worlds? So that's where the data comes in. And then from there, you have to figure out where are your opportunities and where are your risks. So where are those white spaces where we can plant our flag and be ahead of the rest of the industry? What are the battlegrounds where there's the biggest spotlight on a given topic that we can go toe to toe with the heavy hitters and compete in and what are those landmines? What are those emerging risks that we need to steer clear of? 


All of that can be mapped to topics and scored with a scoring system powered by AI. In other words, data from end to end, from strategy creation to monitoring the success of that strategy to optimizing areas of weakness and strategy.



Nice. Nice. So what does the future of creating, measuring, and optimizing a corporate narrative look like?



I believe it's one about talent, so it's bringing data-savvy folks into the communications function. Now, listen, like most people in comms, I failed algebra multiple times. So I'm not necessarily the world's Ph.D. on data, but I will say being data-driven is essential. We no longer have to rely on gut instinct and stick our fingers in the wind to guess what messages might resonate.


We truly can use data to operate more efficiently and to put fewer, deeper messages out into the marketplace. And that starts with having the talent on your team to both procure and act on data insights. The second thing is to have a data system that's customized to you, whether that's a custom batch of topics unique to your narrative, or tracking multiple channels that matter most to you –– for example, executive channels or investor relations channels.


And then the last but probably most important thing here has very little to do with data. It's behavior change. One of the things that we've seen is that data is not just a thermometer, it is a guide in terms of how to act. The most successful organizations deploying our insights are the ones that take them, have a strategy meeting right after, and operationalize them across functions. 


You own this messaging on talent because it popped up as highly resonant comms. Here's your PR plan marketing. Here's how this would inform your campaign's investor relations. Here's how you should use earnings as an editorial moment. And data can be the connective tissue, the convening force. The reason for that behavior changes across an entire organization.



Awesome. Great answer. I like that. Okay, So a couple of little bonus questions here at the end I wanted to cover with you and thank you for your quick answers so we can get to these. What trends are you seeing right now in your mind that our audience would be interested in?



Very interesting. So what we do here at Signal is we are scanning hundreds of companies across hundreds of topics and scoring them dynamically in real time from an immense global dataset of about 2 billion data points a year for some 200 or so countries and 75 languages. So we have a really good sense of what shapes reputation.


Some of the trends that I'm seeing is that greenwashing when it comes to presenting yourself as a purpose-driven organization, is now a bigger reputational threat than ever to companies that are operationalizing sustainable operations, whether that's like greener manufacturing or investment in renewable energy, those companies that are acting on their purpose-driven commitments, that is a real differentiator.


Also, when it comes to innovation, we're seeing that the old days of having big promising visions are somewhat dissipating. You need to demonstrate how your innovation is going to make the lives of your consumers, your patients, your business customers better immediately today. So be a bit more tangible. The last one, I would say is that executives are having as big an impact as ever. We've long known about the power of executive communications, but we've got hundreds and hundreds of topics. Executives are top five in terms of a topic that lifts a company's reputation. If you're not putting your C-suite out there, you absolutely should be doing more of that.



Yeah, I agree. The thought leadership and the executive communications I think are incredibly important. And they became companies that seem to become more aware of this leadership. We seem to become more aware of this. I think during the pandemic. So, you know, we were being asked more and more about internal communication than ever before and the importance of it.


And, you know, the uncertainty of that environment was very important. So and then just for our audience, you're reminding me of a quote that I like to use inside the agency, which is, “If we have data on this, let's follow the data. If we don't have data, let's follow your recommendations.” And I love the idea that, you know, maybe one day everything we do can be powered by data instead of just gut instincts.



Well, I'll counter with another quote, which is from former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. He said, “In God we Trust and everyone else brings data.”



Yeah, exactly.



And I think that if we can make data accessible to people, which is the big focus of what we're doing here at SignalAI, we can make it your daily newspaper, we can make it your operating system, right? Doesn't mean you have to know how to code, but it does mean that you'll know how to take an insight to action.


And if we can rinse and repeat across omni-channel communications from the smallest bit of messaging to the big annual report to the huge campaign for the year, we can lift your narrative relative to your peers in a much more efficient and effective way. Regardless of what industry you're in from pharma to finance.



Yeah, yeah. Just yesterday I was tuning into sports radio. I wasn't listening long enough to know who they were talking to, but it was a coach. It sounded like an NFL coach. And he was saying how one reason he doesn't want to coach anymore is how it's all analytics-driven and how it's all data-driven. And that's just not how he wants to coach.


And I thought to myself, could he be successful and continue in that? And I'm like, no, probably not. Probably not. And, you know, I never want to devalue gut and instinct and experience and human interaction. But, you know, he's right. I mean, we're moving more and more towards a data and analytical-driven decision-making process. And it's impacting, I think, everything from on, for good or bad, from music to sports and entertainment to business.



Yeah, You know, it's interesting for us because we mostly work with chief communications officers, chief marketing officers, and CEOs. And one of the things that I've seen is that there still is an incredible amount of value for people who are long-tenured in the industry. Those senior executives came up at a time when data wasn't as readily available, and certainly I wasn't as well.


We understand that what we're doing is providing an accurate reflection of what's going on, but it's entirely up to them in terms of what to do about it. So we want to be an independent and honest reflection of your perception in the marketplace. But how you choose to attack those opportunities is as much of the samurai ninja sort of approach as you would ever need.


So I'm very excited about the partnership we forged with those senior executives who both understand the value of our data, but also bring incredible skills to bear in terms of deploying it in ways that they know would resonate best across the omnichannel landscape. And that's why we continue to bring that human focus, whether it's real human experts training or topics or real human analysts, gut checking and qualifying our data to make sure that it's not just what the machine tells you. It has to be translated through the creativity and the capabilities of a skilled human being.



Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. All right. So tell me, it's three years from now. Where do you see, you know, your business and its offerings? Where do you see the consumer-facing, you know, generative AI space? Like what can we expect to see in three years from now in your mind?



Well, I can speak to our vision for our business, which is to be an intelligence engine for an entire enterprise. Right now, for example, we are doing some really exciting and sophisticated work in risk analysis. So to look across risks ranging from natural disasters to corruption and fraud, to upheaval in the global economy, to help companies across functions moving from, say, comms and marketing to general councils and chief financial officers and chief operational officers to help them understand the best way to mitigate and navigate around emerging risks that might present themselves particularly to large global interconnected enterprises.


So I'm very excited about the ability to use AI and data to inform a much broader array of C-suite decisions than just the comms and marketing angle. We're doing a ton of that work right now. About 20% of our work is in the risk portfolio, and I would expect that to grow quite substantially. I think going forward we're going to see that talent is necessarily going to have to demonstrate that they're AI native or at least AI conversant in terms of being able to get a better job or promotion.


And then the last thing I would say is that we're going to continue this is my high tech. We're going to continue to see the need for human beings to partner with AI. I'm optimistic that I won't necessarily create massive job losses in the near term future, but instead will be a real partner to free up people, real human beings from time-intensive tasks that they may want to reposition themselves in terms of their day-to-day lives.


So, for example, instead of spending an hour writing that press release, maybe you spend five minutes editing that. And the real question will be, what do you do with the other 55 minutes of your time? I think the most successful organizations will be the ones that encourage that free 55 minutes to be devoted towards learning education in teaching and training so that they can continuously upskill their workforce.



Yeah. I love the idea of constant improvement. It's one of our core values here at Axia, so I can get behind that for sure. That's great. So when we're thinking about your solution, you know, what are maybe, you know, the buckets of spend that companies are spending on something like this now or a watered-down version that they could maybe pivot their dollars over towards what you're offering?



Sure. Well, we offer a span of price points and offerings to make sure that we're always offering a very custom solution for customers. So this could be down to a couple of thousand bucks on medium ordering to a much larger, say, seven-figure deal with a large enterprise. So it's a huge array. The key thing that allows us to do is to be custom.


We can answer any custom brief, whether it's a competitor deep dive or a broad horizon scan. The way that different customers access our stuff is mainly through dashboards and reports. So on the dashboard side of things, would you like to have, for example, a standard industry scan or would you want to have a more custom API-powered dashboard with your scoring system, your inputs, your topics, and your own competitive set?


And then from the report standpoint, do you want to have a big broad horizon scan of what's shaping reputation, or do you want to go super deep into a case study on an emerging competitor or an upcoming event or a nascent technology that might disrupt your business? So very much depends on the company and its interests. But what we have seen over and over is that if we can synthesize the insights, if we can make them simple enough, that enhances the ability to use the actionability of data, so to speak. And that's really what we're focused on in the future, making sure that our AI is as flexible as it needs to be to match the custom brief of your needs. We're excited about the future.



So would you describe your solution as replacing or complementing a company's existing media monitoring provider?



Well, on either end of the spectrum signal, I have, in my view, world-class media monitoring solutions that are AI native, not an AI wrapper, but something that's grounded in ten years of AI innovation. And if you're looking for a medium-on-ring solution, I strongly encourage you to take a look at Signal AI where the strategic solutions of Signal AI, the division that I lead with my co-founder, come to life we are freeing folks up from, say, using an agency that stuck in old world of working So like old school sort of survey or market research or focus group approach, because as soon as the surveys are done, they are growing less accurate over time. 


We can't go back or get that data. So people will often pair us up together. They'll have the media monitoring piece, they'll have the insights piece, but they'll also have the activation piece. To be clear, we're not a PR firm, so we don't pitch up ads. Do media activations create campaigns, and help you sponsor an event? 


We're just here to be this independent, very accurate mirror of how you are perceived in the marketplace. We're here to tell you what resonates and what doesn't, and then it's up to you in terms of how to activate. So the best way to use this, I think, is to match up with, say, an activation partner like an agency or an in-house comms team as well as a monitoring partner, whether that's single monitoring or another solution that you might have in the marketplace. 


And what that allows you to do is understand the spectrum of reputation from weather to climate. Climate is something that changes slowly but permanently. That's what we're here to study. Weather is the drumbeat of the Daily News. That's what monitoring and agencies do.



Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense to me. So in theory, agencies and corporate comm departments could engage your firm and, you know, repurpose the dollars they're spending on traditional media monitoring.



Absolutely. They could reposition funds from multiple sources. That could be a survey, a focus group, market research, competitor analysis, consulting services providers, etc.. The ones that I've seen that are most effective are the ones that are equipped to move insight to action so they procure our services. We provide very specific insights, but whether it's internally with a comms team that has the numbers and the resources to deploy against those insights or externally, with an agency that has the equipment to go push messaging out to the world, they've got to be prepared to take the insights and move them to action.


Otherwise, we're just a really interesting idea. I want to see those ideas deployed in the real world. The most successful clients we're working with are not only armed to move insight into action but then do it month over month, quarter over quarter, creating an engine for how to optimize data-driven communications across functions, whether it's HR or investor relations or comms or marketing.



Is there a company or organization type that wouldn't make a good fit for you and your services?



That's a good question. I think it just depends on what your ambitions are, right? If you're looking to stay largely behind the scenes, we've seen that perhaps, maybe this isn't as useful to you if you're, for example, one of those financial firms that doesn't even have a website because you're such a secretive hedge fund, even we're not the best fit.


But even then we're finding a lot of companies just want to quietly scan the forest, so to speak, to understand where to strategically enter into the conversation, even if they don't have a huge volume of conversation that they want to create. And we certainly work well with some of the larger enterprises out there. As I mentioned earlier, we're working at various Fortune 500 across the world and whether it's in medical devices, entertainment, consumer goods, finance, or pharmaceutical goals, we've seen that AI can be highly, highly specific in giving them insights that are very relevant to their business. So we've seen that that's resonated quite well.



All right, Dan, I appreciate that. So I'm sure our audience has enjoyed this conversation. I'm sure they have questions for you and, you know, interested in connecting, maybe even exploring signal AI for them, for their organization. How might they best reach out to you? Should they have those interests?



I think the best way would just be to reach out directly. If you've made it this far on the podcast, well, you have more patience listening to my voice than my wife, so I appreciate that. Email me directly. I'm dan dot gaynor at signal dash ai dot com and feel free to go on the Signal AI website, enter the form, and just mention you want to chat with me.


One of the most fun parts of my job is continuing to network with prospective customers and then working with our customers. I love the relationship that I'm able to form with other senior comms and marketing enthusiasts to help them craft a strategy to shape their reputation. So again, feel free to reach out to me directly at dan dot gaynor (G-a-y-n-o-r) at signal dash ai dot com.



Perfect. Then we're wrapping up. We're almost done. Anything closing comments or anything else you wanted to share with our audience today?



Yeah, I will add one thing, which is like I mentioned earlier, I was not a great math student. I think I might have been the worst math student in the history of my high school. So thank you, Belmont Health, for keeping me in school. One of the things that I've seen is I'm as I meet comms and marketing folks, they're all nervous that data might either question their hard-earned wisdom or let alone question their authority, and what I would say is that we are now entering a phase of using data and AI where it can be your best friend in the job.


It can be your best tool to help you get promoted. It can be the most accurate mirror to reflect your impact. It can be the most efficient way to clear the mess off your desk and focus on the key priorities, whether it's engaging with signal AI or just embracing some of the nascent AI tools out there for monitoring and measurement.


I would just strongly encourage communicators to get on the wagon right now, not just to fit in with the trend, but because it can clear up hours from your day and help you make a larger impact on your organization, whatever business or nonprofit you might be in. So hopefully my story can assure you that if I can do it and start a company around this, you certainly can adopt these technologies because chances are you're much better at math than I am.



I don't know about that, Dan, because I struggled with algebra as well. But to that end, I'll just echo. Yes. And back to what you just said, which is a lot of times I will hear from marketing department leaders or PR department leaders exactly what you said, which is, you know that in your case you're talking about how AI is helping you raise, you know, their abilities, the value they're bringing and the insights they have to the organization.


I see we’re the same, you know, I make the same case. If you hire an outside agency that will allow you and your team to elevate and, you know, focus on the big picture and be more available to your leadership team as an advisor and the like. So an agency allows you to work at a higher level at times, depending on how your departments organize. And sometimes people look at the agency as a threat to their employment or their job. Well, you know, I've had people say, well, if I need to hire an outside agency, then, you know, what am I doing here? And it's like, imagine if you didn't have to worry about the pitching, the media, the crafting, the messaging, the tracking of, you know, media monitoring and trends.


And you had an agency doing that for you. How much more of your time would you be available to think at a high level, be available to advise your senior leadership team, and be a lot more strategic in your daily work? And I haven't met a company or client who says, “I don't want that,” right? Everybody says, “Yeah, I do want that.”


And so I think we're kind of describing a similar situation where people are sometimes motivated by fear or whatever might be where these are tools and resources to help them do a better job and raise their profile and raise the value they're providing to their employer and organization.



Yeah, if you've ever heard that phrase, the future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet. What you're saying very much resonates with that quote. The future of constructing a 21st-century comms department cascades both to the agency side and the data and technology side. And if you can get your organization shown to operate more efficiently by offloading the components that other partners would be best suited to serve with real experts on your team to oversee those, then what you end up having, and we've seen this in our client engagements is in our case, a data-driven comms organization.


That's very clear in terms of what it asks the agency to do. So the agency can operate more strategically, but also candidly build less. And then internally, they've got a single source of truth to quantify the impact of their strategy. So rather than saying gut instinct, I'm glad we landed these three articles, we'll zoom out and say, Hey, definitively what made a dent in our reputation, regardless of the perceived prestige of an individual outlet or how many hours the agency worked on it.


And that allows everybody to really up to level the game and only focus on really more strategic priorities instead of the day-to-day rote work that, while sometimes necessary, doesn't need to dominate your life.



Yeah, Excellent. Dan, I think we could keep talking for hours, but I know we both need to get back to our busy day and so does our audience. Thank you so much for being here. This has been a great episode and I appreciate it. I'm glad we connected for this and look forward to continuing the conversation with you.



Thanks so much for having me. Great to be on the show.



My pleasure. I was glad to be here as well. So with that, I want to thank our audience for their loyalty and their listenership and viewership On Top of PR. I hope we've done a good job today of helping our audience and helping you, the listener, stay on top of PR. That's our goal here with every episode.


And with that, we want to thank Dan and Brie for their help putting this episode together, and if there are any questions you have, please feel free to reach out to me or Dan, we'd love to hear from you. Please be sure to mention to Dan when you connect with him that you heard about him or his organization from On Top of PR with Jason Mudd.


And with that, this is Jason Mudd signing off. Be well and I wish you much success in your endeavors.


Sponsored by:

  • On Top of PR is produced by Axia Public Relations, named by Forbes as one of America’s Best PR Agencies. Axia is an expert PR firm for national brands.
  • On Top of PR is sponsored by ReviewMaxer, the platform for monitoring, improving, and promoting online customer reviews.


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About your host Jason Mudd

On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.


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