Beyond Impressions: 8 Tips for Measuring Your Media Relations Efforts

Of all the PR disciplines, there’s likely not one of greater importance than media relations. The primary question is: How does one rise above mundane media metrics—beyond advertising value equivalents (by now, we hope) and even media impressions? “Public relations professionals should use the most consistent, reliable and defensible media data,” says Allyson Hugley, executive VP of measurement and analytics at Weber Shandwick. 

First, you have to develop the right mindset. Here are Hugley’s top eight tips for getting started:

Allyson Hugley

#8: Measurement Is not an End Game: Evaluate media relations effectiveness throughout campaigns. “Measure to understand, inform and optimize,” Hugley says.

#7: Don’t Fly Blind: Charting a successful course forward requires knowing where you are. Conduct landscape and benchmark research to understand coverage and conversation dynamics.

#6. Focus on Business Value, not Communications Activity: Communications activities are a measure of productivity, not value. Measuring the impact on business outcomes is key: donations; reputation value; lead generation/contracts closed; likelihood to recommend; and purchase intent and sales.

#5. Keep Your Ear to the Ground: Embrace the notion of constant calibration, listen for stakeholder reactions, monitor for competitor activity and establish “check points” to measure progress against objectives.

#4: Measure More than just Potential Audience: “Impressions are just opportunities to see, they are not a direct path to brand engagement,” Hugley says. Seeing a brand mention does not equal awareness or change in stakeholder perceptions.

#3: Focus on Coverage Quality, not Just Quantity: Quantitative metrics provide a high-level view of the overall media landscape and coverage volume trends. Qualitative metrics focus on content appearing in target sources to capture message penetration and positioning insights.

#2: Don’t Look for the "Magic Number:: The focus of PR measurement is shifting from data to analytics, and actionable measurement is multidimensional. It should include a mix of environmental, perception and engagement measures.

#1. Merchandize your Success: Use data visualization to celebrate PR successes throughout the organization. “Emphasize KPIs and create a compelling, insightful data display,” Hugley says.

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg

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About Bill Miltenberg

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  • Kristin Jones

    Thanks for sharing this, Bill. Allyson makes some great points here that every PR pro should consider when implementing a measurement program. She hit the nail on the head with point #2: Don’t Look for the “Magic Number”. Rather than just searching for mentions in 100 articles, we need to comb through and analyze what type of reaction we are getting in those articles: positive, negative or neutral. Doing this will help us modify our efforts towards truly understanding the impact our program is having. It is important to keep in mind that just monitoring and actually analyzing measurement are very different. Great post to use by all PR pros!