By admin | April 9th, 2013
This is the final installment in our series on media measurement, Public Relations ROI, and understanding the validity of your methodology. Our forthcoming White Paper will cover all the topics in the series, plus reveal the formula necessary for understanding the true impact of your public relations effort.
The Icing on the Cake
I have discussed how tone, qualitative drivers, and publication importance are the key ingredients for understanding the true impact of your media exposure. However, there are two other ingredients that can determine how delectable your media cake is: Prominence and Positioning.
So your mid-sized company, Chicago Staplers, makes the New York Times – hooray! Five inches of an article mentioning you in the New York Times are worth about $23,500 in unpaid advertising, not a bad haul. But does that value give you the true impact of the story? Can you even equate news to advertising?
It makes sense that the impact would be greater if the story was about your company rather than just mentioning your company – something most automated measurement tools can’t take into account. A story about how Chicago Staplers are the best in the market – which would also give you major points for favorability, by the way – is worth more than a story about how some guy was arrested and the story mentions how he at one time worked for Chicago Staplers. They might be the same length and in the same publication, but the first example has more impact than the second because it discusses the company in favorable terms and is the focus of the article while the second is discussed in neutral terms and is peripheral to the story. This is what our media analysts mean when they discuss prominence: major mentions vs. minor mentions, focus vs. periphery.
Prominence’s fraternal twin is positioning. Chicago Staplers got mentioned again for being the best staplers on the market. In Chicago, the story made the front page of the Chicago Tribune, but out in L.A., it was on the last page of the Times’ business section. Now which article has more of an impact? That depends on how people read the newspaper.
Most people at least scan the headlines of the front page before turning to the section they’re interested in – sports, the arts, the money section. There is yourcompany on the front page of the Tribune, right in the headline, etching itself into the brain of the average reader. Chances are that same reader isn’t going to make it to the end of the business section. A good media metric takes this into account. It’s obvious the Chicago Tribune article is more impactful than the Los Angeles Times article, yet many analysts don’t take positioning into account. Good analysis tells you more than the monetary value of your coverage; it also tells you if you’re the focus, or if you’re buried in the back pages. This reasoned interpretation is a particular problem for automated analysis.
What about TV and internet articles? Prominence and Positioning can be measured here, too. Does the radio/TV broadcast discuss you or just mention you? Are you featured on the website’s main page or subpage? Are you mentioned at the beginning, middle or end of the broadcast/internet article? The Impact Score can include all of this and apply to any medium.
If you aren’t taking the above concepts into account when measuring your earned media exposure, you might not get to have your cake can eat it too. Email us or leave a comment to discuss your media impact.