FullSizeRenderHow many of you, dear readers, remember the almighty “clip book?” Typically three ring binders that housed a company’s press mentions, they can still to this day be found sitting in waiting rooms across corporate America. Their presence often seems impressive but with the advent of PR analytics, the long-beloved clip book is losing some of its luster. What does a clip book really  mean, anyway?

Back in the day, the sheer thickness of a clip book was enough to impress visitors and keep clients happy. It could even win awards for a PR team. Of course, the most “important” articles - those from publications with the most recognizable names and biggest circulations - would generally be on top. No one really thought about or measured how  - or if - those articles impacted the business.

Obviously today, with the growing recognition by PR pros that measurement analysis is crucial, most everyone is thinking about how PR impacts the business. And that includes media coverage. It used to be enough to have a media monitoring vendor that simply tracked where you received coverage and the possible impacts of that coverage, such as circulation numbers or regional highlights. Not anymore. Today, monitoring is one thing. Analysis is another.

Here a few of the differences. Media monitoring tools tell you:

  • Source: which outlets wrote about you
  • What the source’s circulation is (which doesn’t equal the number of people that read about you)
  • Location: what region they’re located in
  • Date and URL of the article
  • Quantity of articles
  • AVE or “publicity value” - that is, a now-frowned upon number identifying the cost of placing an ad of the same size as the article
  • Type of outlet (broadcast, radio, print, blog, etc.)
  • Headline
  • Key words/share of voice
  • Spokesperson inclusion (sometimes)

Beyond monitoring your media, analysis is crucial to help you identify patterns of success, so you can repeat what’s working and pivot from what isn’t. PR Analytics tools take you beyond the simple benefit of automating the tracking of coverage and help you to understand what happened and why - all in an effort to make your PR more strategic, powerful and valuable. For media programs in particular, PR analytics will tell you:

  • All of the above (except AVEs - at SeeDepth we don’t believe in AVEs. Here’s why.)
  • Targeted reach. That is, an at-a-glance synopsis on whether or not the media coverage you’re receiving is in the places you targeted. Instead of just presenting a list of placements, a good analytics tool compares coverage received to coverage desired. Did your strategy work? Are you receiving the ROI promised or planned by your PR team? Analytics takes a strategic look at your results.
  • Article referrals. A good PR analytics tool tracks referrals to your site from each article. While you can do this in a basic analytics tool, integrating it in an overall PR dashboard is quite useful to identify patterns of success for future PR campaigns.
  • Sales leads. A better tool can identify a media or content referral as it becomes a sales lead or opportunity, giving PR the credit for leads it has so long deserved.
  • Quality of coverage in addition to quantity. For example, SeeDepth assigns a Campaign Performance Index - a quality and impact score algorithm - to each piece of media as well as each overall media campaign. This helps your team to understand what a good benchmark is for a quality article, and drive toward that goal every time. No more “low hanging fruit” (or press release pick up) disguised as third party media coverage. Identifying other qualities that drive the most interest can help you understand success patterns and which strategic elements in a media campaign deliver the best results.
    • Quality does not mean the biggest circulation numbers. A good analytics tool helps companies realize that while ego-padding outlets are nice to have (for ex: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today), the most value can often come from media outlets that directly reach a bigger portion of their prospective population. If you sell door knobs, often a “hit” in Doors & Hardware is going to drive more leads than one in the Wall Street Journal.
  • Spokesperson impact. Some spokespersons are more popular than others. Let’s face it, some executives do a great job with media and others are just so-so. (Some should just never talk to a journalist, ever.) An analytics tool that recognizes and tracks the impact one spokesperson has over another can be another element to building a stronger media campaign strategy.
  • Article type. PR executives are well-versed in the terms “feature, brief, mention.” Most clients prefer to see feature coverage - that is, articles solely focused on their company, as opposed to a news brief or a mention in a wider industry-focused article. But do features really drive more interest in an organization? Do shorter articles have the same or less value? A good PR analytics tool can tell you, so you can assure your boss or client that even smaller pieces of coverage - placed strategically - have a positive impact on the business.
  • Social impact. While there are a great deal of social monitoring vendors available, a PR analytics tool can tie in social shares of content with the elements mentioned above, for greater insight into what campaigns are driving awareness and engagement.
  • Budget ROI. Media relations campaigns are often one of the biggest line items in a company’s PR budget. It’s amazing how much money is spent and how little success is analyzed. Brands and clients very often still just ask for a number of media hits per month - but a smarter approach would be to analyze the impact of all media. High ROI can come in small packages if the target is right. If your media campaign is driving awareness and action among a more targeted, yet smaller, audience, it’s probably more impactful than awareness among a larger audience that isn’t targeted and will never buy your product or service. For example, if Doors & Hardware drove 25 site referrals which became 15 opportunities and 5 sales, vs. a New York Times piece driving 100 referrals, 5 leads and 1 sale. PR analytics can help you better understand your investment and its greater return.

Overall, a PR analytics tool dives deeper than a standard media monitoring tool, providing PR-specific insights and language. Of course, as with any data-gathering tool, the user needs to take the time to interpret and understand the data to make the best use of insights. Doing so can help you create a more powerful, meaningful and results-driven PR campaign. Having data to back up your recommendations to clients or the boss is always a bonus.

How are you analyzing your current PR campaigns? We’d love to hear your tips!


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