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As organizations increase their reliance on data to determine value and drive decisions, business leaders will continue to seek more insight and evidence of the quantifiable impact and return on investment of earned media coverage.

In the public relations industry, there’s no debate whether this coverage delivers meaningful value, as it helps businesses build brand awareness, enhance credibility and position its leaders as the go-to authorities on their respective subject matters.

However, the question PR and communications pros perpetually face is how the media coverage they earn contributes to an organization’s goals and objectives – beyond the vague and often debated metrics such as impressions and advertising value equivalency (AVE).

The Barcelona Principles

To provide guidance to PR teams, industry professionals came together at the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) in 2010 to adopt the Barcelona Principles.

These sets of principles set the overarching framework for effective PR and communications measurement, which focus primarily on setting the right goals, measuring qualitative and quantitative results, considering the value of social media and emphasizing the outcomes and output of coverage equally.

Measurement in Action

Several approaches exist to operationalize the Barcelona Principles. As an example, many PR professionals leverage the Atmosphere Media Index (AMI), a weighted scoring system that assesses coverage results on criteria established and tailored to any given business.

Like most PR measurement mechanisms, the scoring system considers quantitative benchmarks such as media impressions. However, what separates AMI is its focus on quantifying the impact of more qualitative metrics such as media and mention type, key message inclusion and social media reach.

With each metric worth a certain number of points and weighted differently depending on the goals and focus of the business, AMI helps better correlate PR activity and coverage to an organization’s strategic objectives.

For example, a technology company that offers e-commerce platforms to the grocery industry may seek to position itself as an authority on consumer-facing digitization strategies within the sector as well as nationally.

Knowing these goals, this company’s AMI scoring system should prioritize coverage that includes insight on these strategies as well as key messages that help imply the company’s differentiators in the space. Additional points can be given if the coverage is earned in a leading grocery trade publication or with a national outlet and correspondent who cover the sector.

In addition to key message and media targets, the scoring system should include points for supplemental outcomes such as the publication posting a link to its article on social media or including any brand assets or a link to the organization’s website within the article. In the event a website link is requested from the outlet, a tracking URL should be provided so the organization can measure clicks and visits back to its website, which could also be worth a certain number of points.

Show the ROI of Earned Media Coverage

With data becoming the primary driver of business decisions, PR pros must establish more direct and effective approaches for measuring earned media coverage against an organization’s goals and objectives. While they provide some level of insight, your PR measurement and reporting can no longer simply rely on impressions and AVE.

By leveraging the framework of the Barcelona Principles and creating your own, highly tailored scoring system, PR teams are better equipped to demonstrate the ROI of earned media coverage to senior leaders, including how it plays an important role in supporting a company’s brand presence and growth.

Need some guidance on an earned media strategy and quantifying your results? Contact us today to see how we can lend a hand.

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