A New Method to Measure Media Relations for Business Growth

If you’re a communicator who’s felt the pressure to deliver business results from your campaigns, you’re not alone. In a recent communicator survey commissioned by MediaSource (author's agency), 58% of communicators said that the pressure to deliver results feels higher in 2024 than in previous years.

While this pressure is increasing, it’s nothing new. In my 25 years in the industry, there’s always a struggle to showcase the true value that public relations, and specifically media relations, has on the business bottom line. Communicators know when a media relations campaign successfully reaches audience goals, but how can they truly tie the value to business growth?

A New Method to Measure Media Relations

A test-and-learn approach to data analysis for marketing is commonly used in industries from retail to telecommunications and is often tailored to individual organizations within each sector. In a trailblazing effort for the industry, Orlando Health’s Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs/Media Relations, Kena Lewis, APR, Fellow PRSA, is applying this test-and-learn approach to media relations.

This initiative from Orlando Health, in conjunction with MediaSource as its PR agency partner and Mastercard as a measurement partner, is debunking the myth that media relations campaigns can’t be tied to business growth.

“We believe this is the first time this technique has been used to measure the business value of healthcare media relations—and potentially media relations as a whole,” says Lewis.

One of the related case studies includes a campaign to promote men’s health that led to increased visits to the physician practice being studied by nearly 7%—representing more than 2,000 additional male patient visits.

The base of the approach quantifies the causal impact of specific multimedia campaigns by measuring results against a well-matched control. The test-and-learn approach is enabled by targeting specific lines of business with the media campaign. The analysis is conducted throughout by comparing the performance of providers in the service line featured in the campaign to those who are un-impacted, but look similar on several dimensions.

“This allows our internal and external media relations teams to understand the effectiveness of each campaign, including the increase in patient visits following the release of the campaign, the timing of that increase, the demographics most impacted by the campaign and the monetary increase in total payments,” Lewis shares.

The Proven Media Relations Formula

Data-driven measurement is only useful when paired with high-quality campaigns. The following formula takes media relations success from simple to spectacular.

Strong news-style consumer video stories + targeted media relations + data-driven analytics = increased business

Let’s break it down.

Think visual. Business-driving media relations starts with a compelling story having a newsworthy angle. Create engaging visuals, including videos, in a news-style to support the story and then deliver the content in an easy-to-download format for journalists. Think like a journalist, and you’ll get the coverage you need to drive business results.

Strategic media outreach. Don’t spray and pray. Make sure you’re targeting the right media for specific business goals, which will naturally drive business. Is your organization only accessible on a local or regional basis? Adjust your media outreach accordingly. Build strong relationships with journalists and always remember, even in the age of AI, that relationships get the job done.

Step up your analytics. Partner with experts to make sure the campaign is getting the results reporting it needs. If you’re not at the point to partner with an organization, step up your internal metrics. Work with the client’s call centers or utilize surveys to get customer inquiry insight, utilize specific backlinks to landing pages, and get website analytics in check.

Lisa Arledge Powell, APR is CEO & Founder, MediaSource