How to Measure Relevance, Influence and Media Coverage

One of the most difficult pieces for PR pros to measure is the ROI of earned media and relevance. How much is the CEO’s picture worth on the cover of the Wall Street Journal? Did that influencer wearing a brand’s jeans increase mentions on social? And if so, what do those social mentions mean to the bottom line (if anything)? Is the goal to tie social to sales or leads? Should social efforts lead to raising awareness only? What about sentiment and reputation? How do you determine the goals your organization shoot for and measure?

These were some of the ideas that formed the focus of a panel during PRNEWS' PR Measurement Conference at the National Press Club on April 18 in Washington, D.C.

Reputation vs Relevance

The reputation of a brand or individual should be most important when it comes to representation, right? Wrong. Alan Chumley, managing director of communications analytics at W2O Group, promoted relevance as the “macro” and reputation as the “micro” in importance.

“Reputation contributes to market cap and share price,” Chumley said. “But relevance matters more. When you do it right…(the brand) is most admired, innovative and attractive to employees, at times even disruptive.”

Relevance exists when a brand resonates at the front of people’s minds, and exists as the driver of reputation. It is something that must be considered in a measurement plan, as it reflects the results of what companies are broadcasting, and what stakeholders are reflecting in their conversations—offline and on.

“Relevance maps and crosses the gap between company expertise and stakeholder expectations,” Chumley said. “To be relevant is to be attuned in the digital economy.”

Audiences, Chumley said, swim in “sameness...they are drowning under merger and acquisition news—cut it out. It’s not helping drive innovation or a narrative.”

What to Measure

One of the most common problems in formulating a measurement strategy is, well, deciding what to measure. Many companies are collecting data that have nothing to do with what the C-suite's business goals. 

“It’s about what you should measure, not what you can measure,” Chumley said. “Impressions are dying a slow death.”

Have a conversation with your CEO or department head to learn about their needs. Be prepared and tell them what corresponding data can fulfill those goals. Chumley suggested some jumping off points for the measurement conversation.

“Are we relevant on the topics that matter to us? To the audiences that matter to us? Are they searching for us? Are they sharing our content? Do they understand our long-term strategy?”

Chad Parizman, head of social and digital communications for Pfizer, noted the misalignment in measurement that can occur between departments or while working with an agency. 

“Everyone needs to understand what the KPIs are,” Parizman said. “I looked at our Twitter spend, and there were three weeks with zero clicks to the same creative. Why was this still running? It may have had 100,000 impressions, but the point (of the tweet) was to drive [people] back to the website, not awareness.”

Measurement Opportunities

Measurement also can impact not just PR, but when done right, other sectors of a company.

“Don’t use measurement (just) to prove your worth, use it to improve company operations,” said Tina McCorkindale, president and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations.

McCorkindale spoke of changes Southwest Airlines made that resulted from its measurement of its net promoter score.

Southwest found “the net promoter score is directly tied to whether planes leave on time,” she said. “It decreases when planes don’t leave on time. Based on this info, they did a great campaign called Start Strong…(changing operations of the organization where) the first flight of the day left earlier.”

The program included training with flight attendants and pilots, allowing for more resources across the board, including measurement.