How data can help earned media coverage shine

For years, chief marketing officers have been responsible for presenting a slew of results to the boardroom each month—ad dollars spent, marketing leads generated and sales quotas met (or unmet). These facets of marketing have been the keys to communicating marketing success to execs and other stakeholders, but there’s a dark horse with the potential […]

For years, chief marketing officers have been responsible for presenting a slew of results to the boardroom each month—ad dollars spent, marketing leads generated and sales quotas met (or unmet).

These facets of marketing have been the keys to communicating marketing success to execs and other stakeholders, but there’s a dark horse with the potential to lead positive returns for Fortune 500 companies.

That horse is earned media coverage.

Media coverage hasn’t been given the credibility, tools and recognition it deserves. Current PR reporting proves that PR teams have been busy with listing every mention, article or byline placed—which demonstrates activity, but lacks value.

Leaders want to know how earned media helps drive business in terms of lead generation, customer acquisition and retention and Web traffic that boosts the bottom line.

PR pros have lacked an accurate and quantifiable measurement of earned media’s business impact—but that’s changing.

Media coverage’s tepid pace—and PR pro’s call to action

Taking a step back to understand why media coverage has been slow to change gives a greater meaning to the importance of its role in the boardroom.

Traditionally, securing a front page spot with a colored photograph in a daily newspaper or magazine was the Academy Award for PR pros. Slapping the media coverage in front of your CEO could keep him or her satisfied for quite awhile.

Ad dollars reign when it comes to old-guard PR metrics. Many PR agencies and brand managers still use hand-drawn formulas to convert a piece of news coverage into an ad dollar and label it a measure of success. Interns and entry-level employees spend hours laboring over these formulas and clips—valuable time that could otherwise be spent learning public relations strategies and tactics for executing them.

It’s time to enter 2016 and realize that these reports lack a substantial method of aggregating value from media coverage.

PR pros must leverage the technology that’s available at your fingertips and fuse it with a mentality focused on correlating earned media with social conversion and engagement, website traffic that leads to tangible results and other modern marketing metrics. When this happens, the ways in which we communicate the extrinsic value of earned media will drastically change.

Publishers and publicists alike thought the technology takeover was the worst thing to happen to news coverage—in contrast, it’s become the best thing for the PR industry.

Data and media coverage’s microphone

Data that comes from advanced analytic technologies such as natural language processing, machine learning and clustering algorithms changes what we once thought was impossible to something that is now inevitable.

Today, it is possible to analyze every publication, blog and social media conversation—as well as the journalists and influential social media users who create them—almost as they happen.

Technology can take an article and scrutinize it against all others—categorizing, drawing meaning and assessing the impact on brand, demand and revenue through metrics like direct readership, social media engagement, geolocation and sentiment analysis.

These judgments and insights can then be organized and compared. Is the thought leadership strategy creating or swaying an industry trend? Was this product launch better than the last, or better than competitors’ efforts? What’s the best piece of work or strategy in the industry?

The future of media coverage

The fresh face of earned media coverage infuses a new wave of creative strategizing and bold, innovative thinking.

Bloggers, active social media users and niche publications will rise to the top. Conversations with journalists will become more meaningful and accurate. Crisis management will be controllable and measurable and the true value of media coverage—not just what it means in terms of ad equivalency—will come to light.

Accurate, meaningful data that draws direct links between media coverage and results-driven marketing metrics gives PR pros the power to be the most important players on communications teams.

Long gone are the days of earned media measurement without a quantifying its value. Earned media’s transformation paves the way for PR pros to excel in their roles more than ever, as more value is instilled into their craft.

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