By admin | March 11th, 2013
In my last post, I discussed how tone, qualitative drivers, and publication importance are the bedrocks for understanding the true impact of your media exposure. However, there are two other factors that can determine how much splash your coverage makes in the vast media ocean: Prominence and Positioning.
So your small company, ACME 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 ACME 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 ACME Staplers. They might be the same length and in the same publication, but the first example is more impactful 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 media analysts mean when they discuss prominence: major mentions vs. minor mentions, focus vs. periphery.
Prominence’s fraternal twin is positioning. ACME Staplers got mentioned in the New York Times again for being the best staplers on the market. In Chicago, the story made the front page of the Tribune, but out in L.A., it was on the last page of the business section. Now which article has more of an impact? That depends on how most 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 your company on the front page of the Tribune, right in the headline, getting etched 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 that the Tribune article is more impactful than the 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?
Now we are beginning to understand the key to understanding impact:
Tone + qualitative drivers + publication importance + prominence /positioning = True, measurable impact.
Is your PR effort making a big splash, or a minor ripple, in the media ocean?