It’s hard to show that a stellar piece of earned media coverage made a concrete change, like generating donations, shifting public opinion about an issue, or—the most dreaded and ambiguous—”increasing awareness” about your company or organization.
However, there are several ways you can illustrate the impact of your media hit. This is especially important when you need to show the value of investing in public relations to decision-makers like board members, executive directors or your company’s president.
Here are four ways you can convince skeptics that the media coverage about your brand is making a difference.
Show Hard Numbers
Quantifying media coverage is one of the most effective ways to illustrate success of a media hit. Report on the circulation, or monthly readership, of the media outlet that published the story and explain who these readers are (see my next point). Quantcast is a free online tool that reports circulation of major online news platforms.
These numbers can serve as benchmarks; over time, and with ongoing investment in media relations, you’ll see these numbers grow year over year. There’s nothing like a growth chart of upward progress to dazzle decision-makers!
Evaluate Who’s Reading (or Watching or Listening)
Landing a story in The Washington Post will undoubtedly get your brand in front of many eyes, but are they the right people? It might be more effective to earn media coverage in a small, targeted publication that circulates to the people you really want to reach.
To illustrate the value of a small, targeted media story to key decision-makers, identify demographic information and draw connections to your organization’s target audience, which will help them see that this coverage reaches the right audience. Media outlets often have valuable qualitative information about their readers on their websites, made public to attract advertisers.
For example, the leading Portland, Oregon, magazine, Portland Monthly, features a robust advertising section on its site, which reveals that out of its 332,000 monthly readers, the median age is 41, the average household income is $169,009, 69 percent are female, and 83 percent plan to purchase women’s apparel in the next year. They go further by reporting that Portland Monthly readers are affluent Portland residents who define themselves by their life experiences, their accomplishments, and their interests. Using qualitative information like this can help show who exactly your media coverage reaches.
Highlight Message Pull-Through
How well did the story position your brand? It’s crucial to consider not only how many people are reading, but what they’re reading. A small publication that spotlights your organization in a feature article with compelling images can be more effective than a far-reaching publication that publishes a tiny blurb about your organization and misspells your CEO’s name.
Demonstrate the value of media coverage by highlighting the messages that came through in the story—the messages that you carefully crafted to define your brand and its mission.
Report on the Response
When sharing a piece of media coverage with decision makers, share the “whole package”—meaning, share any positive commentary or response that you received in addition to the story itself. This may come from partners or supporters, but you may also find this in the comments section of an online news story, or on social media. Share a couple of screenshots of positive tweets or Facebook comments to compound the media coverage and show that it is resonating with your audience.