In 2010, the definition of success in the PR industry changed forever. This was the year when PR pros from all over the world gathered in Barcelona to reach a consensus on the seven principles of PR measurement — the aptly named Barcelona Principles. These new standards by which communications efforts are now judged have made the job of the public relations team a little more complicated.
Advertising value equivalencies (AVEs) were, at one time, the best way to attribute a dollar value to any media coverage received. But it became clear that using the value of an ad to determine the worth of a story in any media outlet was not a prudent form of PR measurement. AVEs have been all but eliminated from the industry, and new measurement tactics are steadily taking their place.
No longer are social media posts judged by how many likes they receive or articles by the number of impressions potentially gained – what matters now is how many people did they move along the buyer’s journey, how many people were pushed closer to becoming customers and, eventually, advocates. And quality coverage does that. The path to PR success has changed to the point where top tier media coverage is no longer the end goal.
But don’t despair; the article you got in The Wall Street Journal still deserves kudos. And here is where media quality scoring comes in. Your PR department needs to set up a system to prove how its efforts are contributing to overall business objectives. Media quality scores – frameworks that rank pieces of earned coverage based on their fulfilling certain elements deemed important to an organization’s communications strategy (like appearing in a top-tier outlet) – are an excellent way of doing just that.
By assigning scores to one’s coverage, you are engaging in true measurement and analysis. Like Ketchum says, “Media analyses, whether of traditional or online channels, should focus on the quality of media coverage.”
Setting up a scoring strategy of any media coverage will mean assigning a value to both positive and negative elements. Desirable criteria will encourage readers to learn more, make a purchase, or otherwise invest, in any way, in the company; undesirable criteria will encourage the opposite.
Some elements to consider when designing your own framework:
- Did the story contain one or more positive messages?
- Was an upcoming event or program mentioned?
- What about the headline? Was it positive or negative?
- Third party endorsements are nice and should count for something.
- Any pleasant visuals?
You get the gist, right?
The process might seem somewhat daunting at first, but with the right framework in place and the right media monitoring partner, the outcomes will not only impress your client/boss and provide them with clear results of your team’s efforts, they will also give you the insight you need to evolve your overall communications strategy, so you can get better at what you do. And isn’t that the point of it all?