How Katie Paine Ties PR’s Contribution to Business Through Journalists’ Reporting

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[Editor’s Note: Each week we highlight a slide from a PR News presentation of interest to readers. This week’s slide comes from Katie Paine, the measurement guru and PR News columnist who heads Paine Publishing. She spoke at PR News’Measurement Boot Camp last month in NY. If you have an interesting presentation to share, please contact: [email protected]]

As journalists, initially we freaked upon seeing the slide below, showing prominent scribes who cover TV listed in a ranking that reminded us of how sports pages list baseball’s top hitters or pitchers. Still, we know and trust Katie Paine and decided to hear the story behind this slide.

In an interview, Paine explained one of the things she does for clients is to show them how PR contributes to business goals. In this case the client is the PR department of a company. We agreed not to name the company.

Katie Paine CEO, Paine Publishing Paine Publishing
Katie Paine
Paine Publishing

As in many PR efforts, goal setting is critical. The client sets up goal conversions in Google Analytics at the outset. For example, a PR goal could be getting a potential customer to visit the web site, once there to watch a video, subscribe to a free newsletter, request information or download an app.

In this case, you’re seeing some of 30 journalists whose reporting the client considers most influential for its business. Each article the journalists write receives what Paine calls her Quality Media Score, based on criteria, such as: Did the article mention the client? Did it include the client’s message? A quote from an executive or spokesperson?A desirable visual? A Call to Action? The article and its writer receive a positive or negative score. Paine and her staff score hundreds of articles monthly.

The value of the Quality Media Index, a compilation of the scores, is that it correlates well with goal conversions, she says. When the Quality Media Index rises, goal conversions rise also, she says. The figures on the left side of the slide relate to the correlation Paine did between the Quality Media Index and goal conversions.

“What’s interesting,” Paine says, “is what we’re really doing is tracking message communications...I can’t say because [the least positive journalist on the slide] Cynthia Littleton wrote a nice article about the client, more people downloaded the digital app...but what I can say is that by investing the resources to insure influential reporters like Cynthia are getting your key messages out there...more goal conversions are happening and everyone is happy.”

Another positive is efficiency. Years ago, prior to the Quality Score, “You had 10 different criteria, 10 different charts and nobody paid any attention to it.” The Quality Score bypasses all of that. “Basically it says, ‘Let’s have a conversation up-front about...a reasonable indicator that PR is contributing to the business.”

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