Can it be measured? Find out how to assess the effectiveness of media activities

  • Companies engaging in media activities is often an important puzzle of a whole brand or product communication strategy
  • Evaluating effectiveness helps determine directions for further action
  • How can this be done in PR? Is it possible? We figure it out in this blog post

 

We all need numbers

Companies investing in media relations as part of a brand or specific product’s communication strategy want to see the results these activities bring. This is essential from the perspective of putting together budgets allocated to communication activities. While in the case of other channels or activities, such as social media, Google Ads, SEO and positioning, measurable benefits can be quantifiable thanks to readily available statistics, in the case of media activities this is a bit more tricky due to their nature.

Therefore, so far the industry has not developed a single consistent indicator to objectively assess effectiveness. Many communications agencies base their reports on traditional indicators that PR professionals have known for years, namely: AVE (estimated advertising value of media publications and mentions), number of publications/mentions and estimated reach of the material. Why do traditional indicators often fail?

  • Firstly: They don’t relate to the company’s actual goals – that is, even the most impressive reach of press materials doesn’t necessarily mean success if it doesn’t cover the target audience.
  • Secondly: They don’t take into account the sentiment / overtones of the publication – which means that publicity alone for a brand / product, guaranteeing coverage, is not enough. What matters is the message the publications carry – negative or positive. For example, an image crisis about a brand or product usually means an appearance in many titles simultaneously and a high reach, but this is not the kind of publicity PR professionals are looking for;
  • Thirdly: They do not reflect the actual engagement of the audience – the figures for potential reach can differ significantly from reality, and media advertising representatives do not share them with PR professionals.

AVE – why so serious?

The most controversial is the AVE (Advertorial Value Estimated), which is the estimated value one would have to invest in advertising to get the kind of coverage that PR efforts secure. Why might this data be inaccurate? Well, firstly, AVE is determined on the basis of so-called price list data, which can differ significantly from the final amounts paid by agencies – these can most often count on a discount of several dozen percent. Secondly, the value of AVE in a particular case can often be difficult to estimate and relate to another. An example? There is no point in comparing a banner ad to an expert’s statement in an important opinion outlet.

Let’s talk about goals

Activities with the media should correspond to the goals that were jointly established at the beginning of cooperation with the agency. What’s more, they should go hand in hand with the company’s business goals (short or long-term), which may include:

  • Building or supporting demand for a particular brand or service;
  • Building brand awareness (brand awareness);
  • Others, such as HR, i.e. recruitment support;

Generating outreach without predetermined objectives most often turns out to be a waste of time and resources spent on cooperation with the agency. In turn, an unsuccessful launch of media activities can discourage further cooperation.

This is how we do it at Planet Partners

Number one: we set goals and define who we want to reach

Thanks to our experience working with clients from different backgrounds, we know that every industry and every client has its own needs. That’s why we don’t use a single measure for all projects. Instead, each time we start a new project, we set a measurable and realistic KPI – or Key Performance Indicator – which basically is a goal expressed in numbers. It is set based on priorities for the company or organization, and with regard to planned activities with the media.

Naturally, at each stage of our cooperation with the client we consult the direction of action and selection of media with them, so that we reach a well-defined group. The media can then be grouped in specific baskets and marked with appropriate scoring (priority gradation). This is because the key for us is to achieve our goals, not to produce as many publications as possible. Hence, already at the initial stages of cooperation we act according to a strictly agreed plan. This is because we are aware that for a given company, a presence in a respected and widely read trade title may be of greater value than in a national medium, which does not guarantee reaching the target group.

Number two: we evaluate the results

Performance measurement should be based on qualitative and quantitative indicators (AMEC system).

To stay on your toes and regularly check what brand-related publications have appeared in the media, professional monitoring and detailed data collection tools, such as Press Service Media Monitoring (PSMM) or the Institute of Media Monitoring (IMM), are undoubtedly helpful. The use of Google Trends can also be an additional support. These tools will allow you to avoid manual searches, which not only take time, but can also be difficult, as publications in some local or trade media with smaller coverage may appear with delay.

Each elaborated publication is subjected to a qualitative analysis, i.e. an assessment of its value in relation to the objectives pursued, how visible the product / service or brand is, what is the overtone (positive / negative) and how does it contribute to the overall communication plan.

Number three: expert image or demand maximization?

The presence of a company’s experts in the business or national media usually has a positive effect on the company’s image (as long as they are not forced to fight a media crisis). Indirectly, it can also have a positive effect on increasing interest in the brand, which in turn should be reflected in the acquisition of leads.

Does PR sell?

This question has been asked for years by representatives of companies interested in investing in public relations. Media presence is often an important complement to a brand or product strategy. In particular, online media publications replicated through social media channels are an important source of knowledge for many users.

When undertaking PR activities, we should be aware that monetizing them is much more difficult than in case of social media, hard marketing or SEO.

Nonetheless, remember that accurate prioritization will help realize objectives, and a media strategy based on KPIs can support the creation of demand for the service/product, which in turn will be reflected in the statistics of hits to the site or store (GA data). Keep a close eye on website traffic, especially a few days after press releases are distributed to the media.

A modern approach to media campaigns is also paid cooperation based on the goal of reaching a certain number of unique users. With the right choice of media title, there is a good chance to turn the display of an article into transitions to a landing page, landing page or any other place that is a source of knowledge about the product / service or brand.

In summary, activities with the media differ from those in social media, hard marketing, SEO activities and also their reporting looks different. So far, the industry has not developed objective criteria, so it is all the more important to benefit from the knowledge and experience of experts who will not only guarantee a quantitative assessment, but, above all, a qualitative one, which is so important for media publications. Finally, in addition to hard data, experts will answer the questions: are our materials of interest to journalists? What is our visibility compared to the competition, and whether, in fact, in relation to the company’s goals and brand/product strategy, our work brings the assumed value.

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