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Measuring the value of earned media

In a recent survey of senior marketing people, 73 per cent declared that earned media is more effective than paid media.

Furthermore, eight out of ten Chief Marketing Officers rate earned media more effective or as effective as paid media.

Those are the latest figures from public relations and earned media software company, Cision, in their whitepaper looking at the changing media landscape.

A better way to measure the value of earned media’ highlights the value of monitoring your earned media and measuring its results.

Distinct from advertising, earned media is publicity that’s achieved through creative and clever promotion, communication or engagement. So, what makes earned media so important?

Having a third party share your content has real credibility. Of course, your company website is going to say how great you are or that your widget is the best, but someone else professing that for you provides true validation.

But, the whitepaper claims, earned media remains a largely unrealised opportunity for communicators. Press and media coverage, case studies, social media and speaking opportunities can all drive towards overall business objectives.

Perhaps the claims that earned media is underutilised is linked to the difficulty in measuring its value. Even the mention of AVEs (advertising value equivalents) in PR circles will get you shunned and the industry is yet to truly agree one effective and definitive measurement process.

Simply tracking the amount of coverage online or in print isn’t enough.

“Ad agencies don’t boast about the number of billboards or TV ad slots they get their clients’ content featured on. So, your comms team shouldn’t hold up the volume of coverage it secures as a measure of its success,” explained Cision.

The value of measuring content is vast. How do you know if your work has been worthwhile if you haven’t tracked it? How can you say if your messages have reached target audiences if you haven’t monitored it? How can you prove you’re supporting your client or organisation without looking at this data?

Short answer is: you can’t.

You need to be asking yourselves ‘what does this piece of coverage mean for the business?’ Does it drive people to the website to browse for widgets? Does it address a reputational issue and change people’s opinions? Does it share your key messages?

This is why it’s essential that you have a detailed and integrated communications strategy in place, that has clear goals and objectives to allow you to measure the level of success.

If you’d like to discuss developing a strategic communications plan for your organisation, call the team on 01392 466733 or email us.

Read more on our approach to PR measurement in this blog or take a look at other elements of the media mix in our PESO model blog.