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7-step process for measuring earned media coverage

By Katie Boyles

Understanding the process of earned media and measuring the value of your coverage


How do you know if your earned media coverage is successful at telling your message? Our process for measuring earned media efforts can prove its value to organizations. Go beyond media impressions and measure numbers that really matter.

  1. Establish SMART objectives for the PR campaign and track KPIs and benchmarks that are important to meet your business and communication objectives. How will earned media coverage support this?
  1. Work through each of the four levels (outputs, outtakes, outcomes, and impacts) and select metrics from our LIST: Real numbers to measure media coverage that can support your SMART objectives and align with your business objectives.
  1. After you set up objectives with quantitative and qualitative metrics to show the full value of media relations, implement your campaign and start pitching reporters. Hire a PR firm with established relationships and clear success criteria for media relations.  
  1. A news release is a way to tell your message; it’s an output your PR campaign produces.
  1. Next, you’ll pitch story angles to interest reporters who cover the relevant topic. Having established and respected relationships with reporters in your industry is important for this step. At Axia Public Relations, we have national relationships with top media outlets – and we further develop new ones daily.
  • To measure the success of your media pitching, you’ll check your pitch success rate by dividing earned media stories by how many people you’ve pitched. For example, you had eight media articles and pitched 10 people, so you have an 80-percent pitch success rate. (That’s outstanding, by the way!) You can also measure relationships, open rates, and responses.

“Laser-focus your pitching efforts to specific journalists who cover the same beat and align with your pitch topic. @axiapr” - Click to Tweet Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 1.52.44 PM

  1. Earned media coverage (aka news coverage) is an output. It’s a method to tell your message to a widespread audience – and, it uses a neutral third party, so you aren’t tooting your own horn. To measure the success of media coverage, there are two categories to consider: quantity and quality.
  • Quantity refers to how many. For example, eight media articles, each reaching 1 million, equals 8 million impressions.
  • Quality is measuring how well outlets cover your message. A method Axia uses is a news coverage scorecard.
  1. Finally, evaluate your earned media program’s success. For example, Company X secured 10 media stories, containing quality coverage with an 80-percent pitch success rate, including key messages, reaching a potential audience of 8 million people. Among publication and broadcast dates, Company X experienced a 210-percent web traffic increase, with 2,230 new qualified leads and 190 link-tracked day-of sales.

How we measure PR.


If your PR agency of record can’t show you the value of your earned media program, it’s time to cut ties. Download Axia Public Relations’ complimentary e-book “How to Fire Your PR Firm” to end the unhealthy relationship and find a firm that includes ethical practices in its PR planning, research, campaigns, and measurement practices.  

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axia-katie-boyles-portraitClients love Katie’s energy and enthusiasm. She works with local, regional, and national clients coordinating their PR campaigns. Katie has worked with Axia Public Relations since September 2015. Learn more about Katie.


Featured image credit: 123rf.com 


Topics: measurement, earned media

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