The latest issue of PR Influences contains two articles on media relations. The first article discusses how a company can rate itself in terms of being equipped and proactive in media relations, while the second gives pointers on how to measure and assess the effectiveness of media relations in terms of media coverage.
Merely preparing and releasing media statements does not constitute good media relations practice, according to the magazine. A company needs to plan and implement a series of activities to ensure media coverage.
PR Influences suggests that to determine how organized and proactive a company is in handling the media, it should rate itself against the following 10 questions on a scale of 1 to 3 where 1 means poor/ill equipped, 2 means average and 3 means excellent/well prepared. A company that scores 24 or above is doing very well in media relations. A score of 15-23 means the company is “largely going through the motions” and that “there are quite a few gaps to address.” A score below 15 signals “an urgent need to address media relations preparedness and capability.”
1. Do you have an up-to-date media information database?
A company can subscribe to constantly updated online media databases listing media practitioners by title.
2. Do you know your target media well?
A company should know the specialist interests of journalists in its area, as well as the preferred media release delivery method of each one, whether it be by fax, email or phone pitch.
3. Do you have thorough records on media you deal with?
In addition to the media information database, a company should have records tracking the history of its relationship with every media contact.
4. Do you have a good distribution system for media releases?
A company should be able to automatically distribute media releases to journalists according to their individual preferences. Possible problems, like spam filters blocking emails with lengthy bcc lists of recipient addresses, should be noted.
5. Do you actively research media features and supplements?
A company or its PR agency should explore opportunities in media features and supplements, maximizing the use of information released by most publishers two to three months in advance.
6. Do you monitor the media for general opportunities?
A company should regularly monitor the media on topics and issues related to its field, identifying journalists writing on these areas and finding opportunities to leverage.
7. Do you identify and supply what the media is looking for?
A company should determine the type, style and length of articles each publication uses, and ensure that material sent to media is written according to these guidelines.
8. Do you regularly pitch stories to media?
A pitch is intended to get the attention of a journalist and make him or her want to know more. A company should regularly find opportunities to pitch story angles either through concise and compelling emails or phone calls.
9. Do you have personal contact with media?
A company’s communication people need to establish personal relations with key media practitioners, taking the initiative in making phone calls and setting up meetings.
10. Do you have an online resource for media?
A company should have an online newsroom where the media can electronically access profiles on the company, its key executives and key products, as well as relevant images and all media releases.
After ensuring that the company is well equipped and proactive in media relations, the next step is to measure how effective these efforts are in terms of gaining media coverage. This time, PR Influences poses five questions to companies:
1. Are you targeting the right media?
A company should categorize and prioritize media at the start of the year according to credibility and ability to reach target audiences. Exposure goals should be set to be able to track performance and demonstrate results.
2. How do you measure the quality of coverage you are achieving?
A company should rate media by impressions rather than circulation, learning not only the statistics on people reached by the media campaign but also factors that determine whether the messages are properly conveyed and the desired behavior are likely to be fulfilled.
3. Does your media coverage reflect your key messages?
A company should set up an evaluation system to measure how well its media coverage reflects key messages for the organization, its brands and its products.
4. Are you getting a good return for your media relations investment?
A company can measure cost versus output by cost-per-impression or cost-per-message. The former focuses on favorable impressions while the latter focuses on the delivery of key messages.
5. What is your share of discussion?
A company can measure its share of discussion in relation to its competitors through Share of Voice, focusing on circulation, or Share of Ink, focusing on quantity. The percentage share of discussion should not be much lower than the percentage of market share.
PR Influences reminds corporate communications specialists that the evaluation of media relations through measurement can ensure that PR be seen by management as a profit center rather than a cost center, thereby consolidating its position as a valuable marketing component.
In my view, this should not even need any rationalization at all. Business communication, just like all other company functions, is a means to attain the company’s business objectives. Maximization, cost effectiveness and accountability should, therefore, be integral to its processes.