Is media relations the new marketing? A new measurement method on the rise

by | Jul 1, 2024 | Public Relations

The pressure for communicators to deliver results continues to rise. In a recent journalist and communicator survey commissioned by my agency, MediaSource, 60 percent of communicators surveyed said that reporting the right metrics in a meaningful way to leadership is a current challenge for their organization.

With the competition for budgets, it’s no wonder that PR pros are scrambling to showcase how media relations impacts the business bottom line. Sure, that placement on ‘Good Morning America’ is a major reputation win for your client, but did it actually drive business? And if it did, can that be tracked?

The answer is yes—and if you’re still only using basic PR metrics in your reporting, like ad value or impressions, it’s time to reevaluate your process. If not, you pose the risk of being left behind as the industry, and certainly the C-suite, favors the business value of communications work.

The new media relations measurement method

Debunking myths and taking names: That’s what Orlando Health’s Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs/Media Relations, Kena Lewis, APR, Fellow PRSA, is doing in the Sunshine State. Lewis’ initiative from Orlando Health, in conjunction with my agency, MediaSource, as a PR partner and Mastercard as a measurement partner, is debunking the myth that media relations can’t be tied to business growth.

Say hello to the test-and-learn approach. If you have experience in marketing, you may be familiar with this concept. A test-and-learn approach to data analysis for marketing is commonly used in industries from retail to telecommunications and is often tailored to individual organizations within each sector. Our collective team has started applying this analysis process to media relations and the results can’t be ignored. One of the related case studies includes a media relations campaign to promote men’s health that led to trackable increased visits to the physician practice being studied by nearly 7 percent—representing more than 2,000 additional male patient visits.

media relations “We believe this is the first time this technique has been used to measure the business value of health care media relations—and potentially media relations as a whole,” Lewis shares.

This test-and-learn approach quantifies the causal impact of specific media relations campaigns by measuring results against a well-matched control. This enables us to quantify the impact of specific media relations campaigns by measuring results against a counterfactual of what would have happened in absence of the campaign. The test-and- learn approach is enabled by targeting specific lines of business with the media campaign. The analysis is conducted by comparing the performance of providers who are impacted by the media to those who are unimpacted, but look similar on several dimensions.

“This allows our internal and external media relations teams to understand the effectiveness of each campaign, including the increase in patient visits following the release of the campaign, the timing of that increase, the demographics most impacted by the campaign and the monetary increase in total payments,” says Lewis.

“After every video-based media relations campaign, our collective team addresses some of the findings, including demographic and socioeconomic behaviors, as we plan and introduce new multimedia-based media relations campaigns. This allows us to better understand our target audience and fine-tune our media relations campaigns to make an even bigger impact.

“Giving greater visibility into campaign outcomes has provided a solid foundation for effective earned media campaign models going forward, while helping provide critical health information and, hopefully, encourage healthier behaviors for the viewing, listening and reading audiences,” Lewis shares.

Creating powerful media relations campaigns

Data-driven measurement is only useful when paired with high-quality campaigns. This means you can’t just slap advanced measurement on a press release and expect it to drive business. So, what exactly makes a business-driving campaign? We’ve found a proven formula from our work with the test-and-learn approach.

Strong news-style consumer video stories + targeted media relations + data-driven analytics = increased business

Let’s break it down.

  • Choose a strategic service line. If you’re going to stage a campaign that’s designed to drive business, you need to strategically choose what service line or product you want to drive business to. Look into your current financial reports and identify an area where you need a lift. Create a news-style consumer story around a topic related to this specific area of your brand.
  • Video is king. Video continues to dominate as the preferred storytelling medium. According to Sandvine’s 2023 Global Internet Phenomena Report, there was a 24 percent increase in video traffic and video usage last year, which equates to 65 percent of all internet traffic. Communicators who provide high-quality, omni-channel multimedia content in easy-to-use online newsrooms have the advantage in garnering media coverage that drives results. When creating a news-style consumer video story, remember to think like a journalist and always consider what the audience cares about and how they will benefit. Your story, and supporting video content, should not be about your organization’s brand. It should be about your audience.
  • Update your media strategy. Make sure you create the right media relations strategy to reach your specific business goal, which will naturally drive business. Is your organization only accessible on a local or regional basis? Adjust your media plan accordingly. Build strong relationships with journalists and always remember, even in the age of AI, that relationships get the job done.
  • Extreme makeover: Analytics edition. When was the last time you re-evaluated your tracking process? In today’s world, PR pros need to consider new metrics with every campaign. If you’re not ready to work with a measurement partner yet, step up your internal metrics. Work with your client’s call centers or utilize surveys to get customer inquiry insight, utilize specific backlinks to landing pages and get your website analytics in check.

Gone are the days of PR pros struggling to showcase how their work affects the business bottom line. Communicators who combine multimedia content with targeted media relations campaigns have a structure that can drive business results. So, consider the test-and-learn approach for your brand or simply step up internal tracking processes ahead of your campaign. To learn more about the test-and-learn approach, read more business-driving PR tips and review case studies related to this new measurement method, download the Effectively Quantifying the Business Value of Media Relations at Orlando Health white paper for free here.

Lisa Arledge Powell
Lisa Arledge Powell is the president of MediaSource, an award-winning communications agency that specializes in helping brands reach their business goals through strategic communications. Known as an industry thought leader, Lisa trains other communicators on best practices for how to use content to meet business goals. Connect with Lisa on Twitter: @LisaArledge


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