Thursday, June 19, 2008

Measuring PR: Why apples aren't oranges

Keena Lykin's (Senior Account Supervisor at R+K) prepared a point of view on Public Relations measurement for one of our clients. I thought this was very nicely done, would provide a nice complement to a prior posting on marketing communications measurement, and was exemplary of why I think the R+K PR capability is so outstanding. So enough already, here it is:

R+K Point of View on Audience Multipliers

Rhea + Kaiser does not use audience multipliers to report media impressions, although the practice is common within the PR profession. We believe it is neither a reliable nor accurate measurement of the value our clients derive from media coverage. PR practitioners often justify this practice by saying audience multipliers:
  • Represent pass-along value, or the number of people that read a publication in addition to subscribers;
  • Convey the PR value of media coverage because it is more credible than advertising and thus should carry more weight than advertising.

Reporting pass-along value through multipliers only compounds the challenge of accurately reporting how many people read or see a new report. Publication and broadcast audiences are based on subscriptions and ratings, but not every subscriber or viewer reads every article or views every segment of a broadcast. Additionally, there’s no way to accurately gauge how many consumers read materials passed onto them. Given these factors, we believe it is impossible to create accurate measurements that include a pass-along value.

According to the Institute for Public Relations, there is no known objective research to justify the multipliers often used to communicate the credibility of earned media. These multipliers anecdotally range from 2.5 to 8 and further call into question the credibility of audience multipliers.

Instead of reporting results with multipliers, R+K uses its proprietary Content Quality Scale™ (CQS) measurement system. This tool evaluates media clips against five factors that are both universal and unique to each client. Each clip earns a score per category, with the highest possible total score being 10. The scale gives a holistic view of media relations programs and captures a wealth of additional information. We can sort by media tier, geographical location, date, source, the CQS score, etc., to provide clients with the most relevant qualitative and quantitative data.


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