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How to build a more strategic PR measurement approach

Budgets are tight and CMOs are demanding to see ROI from all marketing programs before they are reinvesting. This includes media relations.

Historically, PR teams have not been very sophisticated in measuring the effectiveness of their media relations efforts. In most cases, they are providing what's called a coverage report which is a document with links to all the media coverage. There’s very little math involved.

Some PR pros have graduated from the simple coverage report to measuring earned media value, which isn't recognized by the industry as the right way to measure public relations. The formula and the definition does not give PR the credit it deserves since it's comparing impression numbers to paid media.

More sophisticated PR pros are using the all-to-familiar with measuring share of voice, which is still an elementary way to measure media. It’s counting numbers (media mentions) and works like this:

Brand A secures 55 stories in March.

Brand B secures 45 stories in March

Brand C secures 10 stories in March

The total coverage for all three brands is 110 total stories. To get the share of voice percentage, you divide total stories for each brand by the total of all three. It looks like this:

Brand A: 55/110 = .5 or 50%

Brand B: 45/110 = .409 or 41%

Brand C: 10/110 = .09 or 1%

In this scenario, Brand A has the highest share of voice for the month of March. The problem with this way of thinking is that not all media coverage is created equal.

Measuring share of voice is fine if you are new to PR, but it’s important to know how to up-level that metric and demonstrate more business value. It’s just as important if not more than tracking sales and leads. Mainly because of the long term affect it has on brand reputation.

Here are 4 ways to take a more strategic approach to PR and media measurement:

Tracking Coverage from a Pre-Identified Media Data Set

In this scenario, you’d want to first identify the top 25 or 50 media outlets that really matter to your business. From there, you only count brand and competitive coverage within these pre-identified media outlets for the SOV analysis.

Measuring Unique Media Coverage

In this scenario, you’d want to measure just the media coverage that mention your brand and not any of the others, and then applying that same methodology to the competitive brand mentions. A Boolean Query (or search string) might look something like this:

(“Brand A”) AND NOT (“Brand B” OR “Brand C”)

This would isolate unique coverage and not count listicle articles or industry coverage that covers the larger media landscape. You can combine this approach with the pre-identified media lists as well.

Measuring Exclusive Media Coverage

In this scenario, you’d only count the exclusive coverage. An exclusive can be defined a few different ways. It could be a brand or competitive mention in the headline or when the brand is mentioned more than once within the article itself.

Measuring Share of Engagement

This way of measuring media can be combined with any of the methods above. In this scenario, that data point wouldn’t be total volume of coverage but the total engagement from that coverage. In this context, engagement is considered a social media action (like, comment, share, retweet, favorite). For example:

Brand A secures 55 stories in March resulting in 10,321 engagements

Brand B secures 45 stories in March resulting in 21,632 engagements

Brand C secures 10 stories in March resulting 4,398 engagements

The total engagement for all three brands is 36,351. To get the share of engagement percentage, you divide total engagement for each brand by the total of all three. It looks like this:

Brand A: 10,321/36,351 = .28 or 28%

Brand B: 21,632/36,351 = .59 or 59%

Brand C: 4,398/36,351 = .12 or 12%

One way to think about engagement is how well a story is resonating with the readership of the media. High engagement numbers mean higher resonance. The examples above paint an interesting picture.

While Brand A garnered 50% share of voice against its competitors, it only received 28% of total engagement. There could be a variety of reasons for this happening but you'd never even get this this insight without a more strategic approach to PR measurement.