We’ve put a lot of clients in the press over the last few years. They’ve sought diverse metrics of success. Some simply want more press; some are targeting specific types of press. Still others have personalized metrics; one company CEO was pleased that retired generals responded favorably to his op-ed.
One metric we don’t discuss with clients is “potential reach.” Many PR professionals and PR-tangential companies manipulate clients with this information, portraying it as valuable because millions of people could have read, seen, or heard the message. But this means nothing compared to the actual reach. For example, we published an op-ed that got a few thousand views out of a potential audience of millions of readers.
Actual reach is a better metric than “potential” reach, though it is still limited. Tools like SEM Rush offer reach assessment capability, but without a media outlet’s internal metrics, getting a precise number is impossible. And very few outlets publicly release their numbers.
What metrics are worthwhile?
Media campaign metrics for businesses and non-profits are usually best considered in the context of wider marketing and branding. For a few examples:
- The SEO value of press. For clients who rely heavily on Google searches for traffic, metrics such as downstream media coverage (like material being republished or repurposed by other outlets) and backlink quality can create both initial reach and greater long-term reach through an effective SEO strategy.
- Press credibility compared to client brand reputation. Putting a little-known client into Newsweek, Insider, or USA Today sends their message into the national space. This gives them automatic credibility with stakeholders and other press outlets.
- Creating a call to action. Reaching 100,000 people doesn’t matter if nobody takes the client’s preferred action. Reaching 10,000 people who are likely to take action is 10% of the audience size – but may have 10 times the impact. This is especially true for political or activist campaigns.
- Starting people down the sales funnel. For clients seeking customers, donors, or investors, putting more of the right people on their website is far, far more important than virtually any other metric.
Press value is limited without effective marketing
But even the most effective press campaign is limited without the other side of the branding coin: effective marketing that repurposes press placements to reach other audiences with variations on the same message.
“Without effective marketing, you’re leaving a great deal of a media placement’s value on the table,” said Pinkston president Christian Pinkston. “Social media and email marketing, improved SEO, and repurposed website content are all part of turning press into messaging that reaches more people over time.”
“Reaching” people just means they’ve been touched once. The best clients know that people need to be reached many times with different message variations before they are likely to take the desired action.
A version of this piece was originally published by Dustin Siggins at PR Daily.