There is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining the best media mix for your organization, or to know precisely how to allocate resources for the best ROI.
"If you tried to measure everything, you wouldn't have the money to do anything," says Greg D'Andrea, account director at Cision. "You have to focus on the media that matter."
Of course, the media that matter is different for every company and, even more challenging, different for each initiative within said company. There are several vendors that offer services that track, monitor, measure and analyze media coverage of their organization, which certainly helps guide decisions surrounding how much money to allocate to media outreach efforts across all segments (print, online, broadcast). But these services come with hefty price tags--not an easy financial burden to shoulder in today's economy.
Luckily, there are strategies that can be applied in-house to determine the best media mix and resource allocation without breaking the bank. D'Andrea recommends taking the following steps to come up with your equation that can be used and adapted for all media relations initiatives.
*Step 1: Deliberate information. This part of the planning phase focuses on gathering all of the information that is currently available in the context of your organization's media tracking and analysis capabilities. What is the media universe in which your organization orbits? Who are your target audiences, and what media speaks directly to them? Answering questions like these will establish benchmarks that you can return to throughout the entire process.
"Research will let you reevaluate and reemploy your strategy for the next time," D'Andrea says. "Media research is a statistics-based experiment. Statistics are your key."
During this process of gathering intelligence and digesting it, it's critical that you do so in the context of a specific campaign or objective, as thinking too broadly can create unnecessary complications.
*Step 2: Set media targets. Based on the findings of your research, you can identify the best media targets, always keeping in mind that the end user of your message will be the people who read the media you pitch.
When setting targets, it can be helpful to create a visual to see the big picture of the mix you are trying to achieve. Draw a grid with six squares and label each one according to media type: newspapers/magazines, trade publications, broadcast, online publications, blogs and social media sites. (Note: This is the typical mix, but always customize according to your organization's needs.)
Then, according to which media reaches your target audience most effectively, prioritize resource allocation by weighting how much time and money you plan to put in each category. Come up with a scale or system (points, percentages, tally marks, etc.) that can be applied directly to the grid.
*Step 3: Execute. Now is the time to actually conduct the outreach to the media you identified. Remember to customize pitches for each type of media, as print journalists have very different preferences than, say, bloggers.
*Step 4: Measure and evaluate. This is the step that brings the process full circle and gives you ammunition to take to the C-suite to prove the ROI. D'Andrea identifies the main ingredients of media analysis as: audited circulation or audience (information that is usually available online), tone (positive, neutral or negative) and prominence/placement (headline, initial mention, graphics, exclusivity, extent of mention).
Then, create a gradient to quantify the tone; for example, on a scale of 1-5, 1 is very negative, 2 is somewhat negative, 3 is neutral, 4 is somewhat positive and 5 is very positive. If you want something more basic, just use a scale of 1-3 (negative, neutral, positive).
To quantify prominence, create a point system; for example, 10 points if the mention is in the headline, 7 if it's in the first paragraph, 5 if there is a related image, etc.
Now it's time to do some math. For each media outlet, add the tone score and the prominence score together to get what D'Andrea calls the "net impact score." This score can then be applied to the outlet's reach (say, a paid circulation of 100,000, or 500,000 active members) to determine the estimated number of people your message reached, and to what effect (positive or negative).
Is it an exact science? Definitely not, but surely it's a starting point to help shape the ideal media mix for your organization's campaigns, especially if you're working on a shoestring budget. PRN
Greg D'Andrea, firstname.lastname@example.org