How to Measure Earned Media

How to Measure Earned Media

Kristi Stolarski   |     July 10, 2024

Earned media measurement is a critical component that drives strategic decisions and demonstrates the value of our marketing and communications efforts. However, it's essential to understand that measurement is not a "one size fits all" process. Tailoring your measurement strategy to the specific needs of your campaign, audience, and goals is key to achieving meaningful insights and results.

Start with the “Why”

Before diving into the specifics of what and how to measure, it’s crucial to address the question: why are you measuring? Clarifying your purpose helps shape a more effective and relevant measurement strategy.

1. Purpose of Measurement:

  • Marketing Goals: Are you aiming to increase brand awareness, drive sales, or boost engagement?
  • Tactical Effectiveness: Are you looking to identify which tactics are the most effective in your strategy to refine future campaigns?
  • Proving Value: Do you need to demonstrate the worth of the marketing team and justify the budget to stakeholders?

2. Audience of Measurement:

  • Internal Marketing Teams: In-depth metrics that help refine ongoing campaigns.
  • Sales Team: Data that aligns marketing communication efforts with sales performance.
  • C-Suite and Board of Directors: High-level insights (often for audiences that are not marketing savvy) that show return on investment (ROI).

Once these foundational questions are answered, you can determine the specific metrics, methods and cadence that will provide the most effective measurement for your needs.

Marketing Measurement Buckets

Effective measurement in communications can be categorized into three primary buckets, according to Cision’s PR Measurement Hierarchy: Outputs, Business Results, and Outcomes. Each serves a different purpose and provides distinct insights.

1. Outputs: A measure of the media channels where your messages appeared. This can be measured both by the quantity and quality of media placements.

  • Quantity: The number of times your message appears. While this is easy to measure, it may not always be the right brand awareness metrics for you. High quantity does not necessarily mean high impact.
  • Quality: The relevance and influence of the media channels that include your message. Quality placements in top-tier media outlets can be more impactful than numerous mentions in lesser-known sources. However, measuring quality takes additional time and budget to measure – but can offer deeper insights into media effectiveness.

2. Business Results: A measure of how your media messages have impacted your business objectives. These are directly tied to your marketing goals.

  • Examples include: Increased website traffic or brand engagement, higher conversion rates, growth in sales, and improved customer acquisition. These metrics show a direct correlation between your communications efforts and audience engagements and/or business performance.

3. Outcomes: A measure of the long-term impact of your communications on target audiences. This is often the most time-intensive and costly measurement bucket, requiring comparative data and in-depth research before and after campaigns.

  • Examples include: Changes in brand perception, customer loyalty, and audience behavior over time. These metrics help understand the sustained impact of your communications strategy.

Implementing an Effective Measurement Strategy

To implement an effective measurement strategy, follow these steps:

  • Define Your Objectives: Clearly articulate what you want to achieve with your measurement.
  • Identify Your Audience: Understand who will be viewing the measurement reports and tailor the insights to their needs and expectations.
  • Set a Reporting Schedule: Determine the frequency of your measurement reports based on the needs of your stakeholders and the nature of your campaigns.
  • Select Appropriate Metrics: Choose metrics that align with your objectives and audience—and your budgets.
  • Invest in Tools and Resources: Use the right tools and allocate sufficient budget and time for comprehensive measurement.
    • Falls & Co. purchases a variety of tools and platforms to help our clients achieve their measurement goals in cost-effective ways. If needed, we can also help identify additional tools or research to meet any measurement goals. 

By following these guidelines, you can create a measurement strategy that not only demonstrates the value of your communications efforts but also provides actionable insights to continually refine and improve your campaigns. Remember, the key to effective measurement is customization. You must align your metrics with your goals, audience, and reporting needs to achieve the most meaningful results.

Need help with your communications programs or measurement strategies? Falls & Co. is here to help.

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Bio image of Kristi Stolarski

Kristi Stolarski

Kristi Stolarski is an Associate Vice President, Communications. With more than two decades of agency experience – Falls since 2005 – Kristi brings a wealth of strategic and creative thinking, brand strategy, integrated marketing communications, content creation and digital marketing, earned, owned and paid social media, writing and special event planning.