Andy West, group chief development officer at Hotwire, examines the future of earned media measurement and how this can help communicators to deliver integrated campaigns.
At a time when the debate around positioning your agency as offering integrated communications or public relations rages, one constant remains. And that is the ongoing importance of media relations.
Like it or not, there is still huge interest in high quality earned media and, as a consequence, the skills necessary to deliver on this are in high demand and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.
This presents me with a conundrum. If media relations is so important, why hasn’t the measurement of earned media advanced in line with the growing trend for data and insights in our profession?
The evolution of measurement
Let’s face it, agencies are still evaluated against archaic metrics such as quantity, which in old fashioned language equates to the weight of your clippings book. In today’s digital first world, this should be an outdated concept.
One reason for this might be the continued lack of integration of the communications function within the marketing department. Sitting out on its own, often seen as a cost centre or the publicity team, the most tangible measure for an unaware c-suite is the amount of coverage being generated.
Putting aside the thorny issue of vanity metrics, this scenario is still played out in some companies. Fortunately, it’s becoming rarer and we are seeing more and more integration and a sharper focus being placed on media coverage aligning to marketing and overall business goals.
The second challenge faced by many is ring-fenced data. We operate in a data rich world but suffer from a lack of visibility into that data. Without access to the many streams of information that contain the keys to evaluation of earned media, PR teams will continue to operate in a vacuum. This is a situation that has to change.
The good news is that client-side marketers and communication professionals are increasingly looking for a more holistic approach to assessing the value of earned media coverage. Over the past few years, many have become ‘bored’ with the measurement debate – largely because the dreaded AVE topic has dominated the column inches in the PR trades.
This is now a red herring. The debate needs to now shift to highlighting the opportunities for teams to use widely available tools to evaluate success and to inform ongoing media strategy.
The future of earned media measurement
AMEC, The International Association for Measurement and Evaluation in Communications, recently unveiled its latest publicly available tool – the Measurement Maturity Mapper (aka M3). This platform links with AMEC’s Integrated Measurement Framework to help PR professionals better plan and resource their measurement and evaluation programmes.
While not limited to earned media, the tool provides practical advice to organisations looking to map their measurement journey using industry best practice.
It’s initiatives like this combined with the rapid rise in what I call ‘comm-tech’ (SaaS platforms that provide communication teams with tech solutions that map impact and attribution) that will have the most impact on the future of earned media measurement.
As these technologies proliferate and communications becomes ever more integrated, then the days of quantity will give way to a future where value and impact are the currencies of media measurement.
Andy West’s thoughts were originally published in Cision’s latest white paper: Creating resonant integrated campaigns by using Earned Media Management. You can download a copy of the white paper by filling out the form below.