We often talk about the importance of measurement and qualitative results when it comes to assigning value to an earned media placement. In PR this boils down primarily to impressions for print media and UVM, which stands for unique monthly viewers for online media – a number meant to reflect how many unique viewers visit a website each month. One might say the more eyes, the more potential customers – but that doesn’t translate quite so seamlessly to media placement. Let’s dive into a breakdown of how we assess the impact of a placement and what other factors one should consider when developing a target media list.
The Cachet and Value of a Household Name
Town & Country, People and Condé Nast Traveler are just a few national media outlets that one might consider “household names.” Many of us are familiar with them because we have a subscription, have picked up a copy in a waiting room, or have come across these titles in the checkout lane at a store. These publications have cachet. They’ve stood the test of time and still appear in print and remain main among the most prominent print outlets with millions in subscribers as well as online readers. Interestingly, some of these publications have lower online readerships than competitors in the digital space; however, their influence on readers’ decisions and behaviors should not be ignored. In fact, for publications such as Condé Nast Traveler, many of its readers report choosing hotels or opting for certain tours as a result of something they read in the publication. A number of publications can make the claim (and back it up with survey data) that they in fact are influencing purchasing behavior and decisions, and that’s something that carries significant weight.
Insights collected on specific audiences’ behaviors and spending habits are key components that should be considered when building a targeted list. If a product geared toward ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) is being sold, then smaller, niche publications should be sought after that have a targeted distribution. Oftentimes these niche publications have a smaller reach when it comes to impressions, but those impressions can be more impactful as the brand’s message is being received by consumers who are more likely to consider purchasing the product or service. There are a number of insights and demographics that one can take into account from age to location and all of these insights can be used to make informed decisions about which publications should be targeted.
Living in a digital world, consumers can obtain their news and information from thousands of news sites and blogs. With all those options out there, domain authority – which refers to how a website ranks in search engines – should come into consideration. It is important for any media relations strategy to complement advertising investment with consideration of which outlets are most likely to appear in search rankings – those that have greater domain authority – when consumers are conducting their search. Let’s say that one is marketing a boutique hotel on St. Lucia. One of the primary goals is to reach those consumers who are searching for information about traveling to St. Lucia, so naturally one invests in Google Ads to appear in search. To further complement this, one should consider which outlets come up when consumers are searching St. Lucia in various search engines and ensure these publications are included in their target media lists.
Reaching the Right Audience
In PR it’s not uncommon to have clients come in with the expectation that coverage in a big-name national publication such as The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times is the ultimate goal. Many times this is the ultimate goal because these publications have significant reach – but what should be considered is how coverage in one of these publications will contribute to the established KPIs. Take into consideration the site Wirecutter. Founded in 2011, the site focused exclusively on reviewing electronics and tools; by 2016 it had generated $150 million in affiliate revenue. Although Wirecutter was a newcomer to the space, the publication generated impactful results for those brands that appeared in its features because they were reaching a specific audience with the right message. That’s not to say a major national publication can’t yield similar results, but it’s important to consider the audience and whether or not the product and/or service appeals to them. Leaning on the PR team helps identify which publications reach the right audiences – the focus should not be solely on the large national publications with high readerships. Targeting the right media outlets to fit the brand’s key audience and spread the brand message, drive engagement and, ultimately, lead to sales or bookings should be the ultimate goal.
In conclusion, there is no perfect method for measuring the success of a PR placement, but by looking at the variables that align with the outlined goals and KPIs, one can create a targeted media list that can influence and lead to increased website or business visitations and ultimately create a pipeline of new and repeat customers.