What PR Pros Must Do Before Collecting Insights From Media Coverage

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Measuring media relations success has to start at the top. Meaning, before you start collecting insights from your coverage, you need to have a benchmark of what your ideal story is, and everyone, from the CEO level down, needs to be in agreement about what that is.

This was the central media relations tenet expressed by Visit Philly's communications team at PR News' recent Measurement Conference in Philadelphia. Paula Butler, VP of communications, Dana Schmidt, director of social media, and Kevin Lessard, senior analyst, have a clear idea of what the perfect story is for Visit Philly, the official visitor website for Philadelphia travel and tourism.

Visit Philly's top-down-agreed-upon ideal story:

  • Published in a high-profile outlet
  • Has a great headline
  • Is a full-length feature as opposed to a mention
  • Includes a great image or video (preferably credited to Visit Philly)
  • And it links to one of Visit Philly's websites, which is their perfect call to action

Obviously, every organization has its own version of what its ideal media story is. But unless you hash it out with the C-suite on down the line, measurement efforts and the reporting of metrics will quite likely result in so-what shrugs and glazed expressions.

With its ideal story in mind, the Visit Philly communications team starts by measuring the traditional things like:

• clip counts

• impressions generated

• the breakdown of coverage by media type

• sentiment

Then they dig into the earned media data they're collecting. These additional metrics can be changed depending on what you value in your coverage, Lessard said:

Coverage by topic—This drives Visit Philly's content strategy. What performs well, and when?

Coverage by type of placement—Visit Philly places an emphasis on driving more feature coverage (vs. mentions).

Coverage using beautiful images—If you have visual resources, make sure the media knows about them. (Visit Philly recently launched a redesign of its online pressroom, placing a big emphasis on visual content.)

Coverage conveying key messages from a corporate standpoint.

Geographic breakdown of coverage (by DMA)

Coverage in A-list media—For Visit Philly, A-list media comprises local, regional and national travel/lifestyle outlets (see image above).

All efforts to pinpoint a brand's ideal media story and select the right metrics go down the drain without meticulous tracking and smart repurposing of coverage for internal and external stakeholders, Lessard said. Beyond sharing coverage on social media, you should consider repackaging media coverage in the form of a regular e-newsletter sent to employees and boards of directors. You helped create the good news about your organization—be creative about distributing that good news.