Nov 14, 2017 / in Comms Best Practices / by Susan Guillory

As marketers begin to understand why it’s necessary to move away from outdated measurement systems when it comes to earned media, it’s important to develop a robust strategy going forward. To that end, answer the following questions to help shape your earned media measurement strategy.

First, Who Should Be Involved in the Strategy?

Before you start answering the following questions, consider building a team that will be in charge of measuring results of earned media efforts. This might include staff from both marketing and PR functions, as well as executives or any other shareholders who need to be apprised of results.

Some team members might need to be more involved in the day-to-day earned media campaigns, while others, especially executive managers, might just need a quarterly check-in to stay on top of things.

But no matter how involved the individuals on your team need to be, start out collaborating as a whole. At your first meeting, get input from this team on the following topics.You may be surprised at how varied the answers are from each team member.

1. What Matters to Our Brand?

Before you can decide what to measure, and how to measure it, you need to identify the important benchmarks for your brand. That might be how you stack up against the competition, the effect a recent crisis has had on the brand, or how your messages are performing with your demographic.

Identifying the most important topics being discussed in your industry, as well as who influences those discussions, can also play into developing your strategy.

Insider Tip: Initially during brainstorming, you may come up with a long list of what matters. While all these points are valid, narrow down your list to the top measurement points to zero in on the analytics you will value the most.

2. What Monitoring Sources Are You Collecting?

If you are leveraging different channels for your various marketing campaigns, it’s important to rope in each one as part of the earned media analysis. Everything from your content marketing to social media to PR (including print, online, and television or radio mentions) needs to be part of the equation.

Insider Tip: Realize that the sources you need to monitor may change, depending on the campaign and its goals. Reassess your monitoring sources for each campaign.

3. Where Are Your Attentions Focused?

Perhaps you only care about earned media in the U.S. On the other hand, if your company is global, you need to pay attention to media mentions in other countries, and in other languages. This will require access to translators so that you can understand what’s being said about your brand in all parts of the world.

Insider Tip: Even if your primary focus is on the U.S., realize that online media bleeds across borders. Don’t limit your assessment just to the U.S., but also include other English-speaking countries to start.

4. What’s Your Connection to the Rest of Your Company?

Some marketing departments are completely siloed from the rest of the company, which can make measuring and sharing earned media results difficult when other departments need to be involved. Others divide the marketing tasks among various employees, but they work together for the integrated benefit of all and share in disseminating analytics and data.

Consider who beyond your team or department will need access to the earned media results. You may need to include executive leadership in the process, who will want to know that their investment in earned media is paying off.

Insider Tip: Identify one representative from each department who has a vested interest in the earned media analytics, then schedule regular meetings to keep them apprised of results.

5. How Often Do You Need to Report, and To Whom?

This may be dictated by company policy. Whether you need to report daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, establishing a calendar for when you’ll need to generate data can help you stay on top of it.

Who you report to will also guide your earned media measurement strategy. If you are the only one who needs the analytics, you can create an informal report or simply log into your analytics dashboard when you want an update. On the other hand, if your CMO or other executives want access to the information, you may need to create a more formal presentation.

Insider Tip: Use your calendar to plan ahead, especially if you need to present results in a formal meeting. If you need assistance from other team members, be sure to assign tasks far in advance of that meeting.

6. What KPIs Matter Most?

While you may have any number of key performance indicators, some will matter more to your brand than others. Identifying, for example, that ad value or website metrics are of the utmost importance, you can then determine what to measure as success points for your earned media campaigns.

Insider Tip: Your KPIs may change, based on the campaign, so be flexible in updating the KPIs you focus on.

Once You’ve Worked Through This List…

Once you’ve addressed all the questions posed here, you will have a massive amount of information to take into consideration as you develop your measurement strategy. It may take some time to parse through all the data, but devoting adequate time to do so will pay off by presenting you with the best metrics to assess your earned media campaigns.

Keep in mind that your earned media measurement strategy may change with each campaign if it uses different sources or tactics, so be flexible with how you measure. But keep results from one campaign so you can measure the next campaign’s results against it. Over time, track campaign results as a whole so you can see trends at the high level and make bigger picture PR strategy shifts to improve results and align them with company goals.

Don’t fall back on how you used to measure PR. It simply doesn’t work as effectively as an updated, customized earned media measurement strategy designed specifically with your company’s objectives in mind.

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About Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory is the president of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Cision, Forbes, AllBusiness, Small Business Trends, The Marketing Eggspert Blog and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.