Measuring the Power of Earned Media Placements

Unlike our counterparts in advertising, a dollar value isn’t easily assigned to PR placements. That’s because PR stories are earned—not paid for—and a story about a company’s product or service by a third party is often considered more valuable than a paid advertisement. That said, there are many ways to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of a PR campaign, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Media outlet audience size isn’t everything. It’s simply one measurement tool that can help track the success of a campaign. For instance, it’s possible that a small, targeted trade publication could be more valuable to you than a USA Today story. It all depends on identifying your target stakeholders as well as having a PR campaign that aligns with your business goals.

Before a PR campaign commences, it’s critical to establish:

  • Objectives and goals
  • Metrics by which you’ll evaluate each placement and the campaign as a whole
  • Tools to track results (often agencies like ours subscribe to multiple platforms to do so)
  • How often you’ll analyze the data (monthly, quarterly, annually, etc.)

What PR metrics should I use?

When it comes to earned media and PR, there are many different metrics that can help you gauge success. Here are some of the common PR measurement terms used by our team that help define and track success.

Unique visitors per month (UVM) is the number of different people who visit a media outlet’s homepage during a given month.

Reach is the term we use to measure broadcast placements. This generally refers to the number of households that likely heard or saw the broadcast.

Impressions represent the total number of people that could have read, seen or heard that media placement. We typically keep a running tab of total impressions across an entire campaign or year.

Sentiment analysis refers to the tone of the article. When defining measurement parameters at the onset of a PR campaign, placements would be given either a positive, neutral or negative connotation or assigned a numerical score corresponding to a scorecard system devised at the beginning of a program.

Key message pull-through can also be quantified for each media placement. This is done by setting core messages at the start of a PR campaign and measuring how often they’re seen in earned media results.

Links back to a company website, product page or anchor blog piece can help drive readers directly to make a purchase decision or engage further with a brand.

Amplification can be in the form of engagement from the writer and readers, comments/posts in social media and/or syndication of the article that appears in other news outlets tracking conversations that sparked from the placement. 

How do I evaluate success?

Tracking results is only half of the measurement equation. It’s critical to stop and evaluate the data, taking a look at where you are to-date and if you’re on the right track to success. Establishing mid-campaign points to do so allows you to adjust and/or course correct to get you to a positive end result.

Questions you should be asking yourself are:

  • How am I tracking against original goals set forth at the onset of the PR campaign?
  • Do I need to make any adjustments to the types of targeted media outlets?
  • From a content analysis standpoint, is our outbound messaging resonating?
  • Do I need to refine any of my PR strategies to align media impressions with business goals in a better way?

In the PR department at The Motion Agency, we emphasize transparent, consistent and straightforward measurement and evaluation. This allows our clients to really understand the results and makes it simple for them to share insights with their colleagues.

Reach out today to learn more and embark on your brand’s own earned media strategy––and see for yourself the results it can bring.