Introducing the State of Media & Readership Report

We all see the articles that news outlets publish, the beats their reporters cover, the topics and brands that get picked up.

But what we don’t see is: what are people actually reading? What is breaking through the noise and what does this mean for communicators? That is, until now.

Readership measures unique visitors to an article page. Meaning, how many people actually engaged with a news cycle or saw a brand’s coverage. Some of the world’s biggest brands lean on readership to measure impact and guide their media strategies. For the first time ever, we’re releasing some of the readership trends previously only known to our customers.

What does readership tell us at a macro-level?

Memo analyzed readership on half a million articles. The findings are in our first-ever State of Media & Readership Report, which uncovers some of the actionable, data-backed insights to inform your media strategy in the year ahead.

Here are some of the big takeaways from the past year:

  1. Don’t make any assumptions about publications based on topic. Some publications drive consistently high readership around surprising topics.
  2. Don’t discount paywalls and syndicators. News aggregators and content syndicators increased readership by 41.8% in our sample. For paywalled content, syndicators boosted readership by over 100%.
  3. There’s little correlation between social engagement on an article and readership (0.18 in one analysis). In a separate analysis of over 600 articles on multiple brands, less than 10% of article traffic originated from social media.
  4. Wednesdays are the busiest news days. However, readership around brands spikes on Mondays, Fridays, and weekends. In fact, articles published on the weekends get 68% more readership.
  5. When a crisis arises, address it early and let the news cycle fade. Bad news drives readership. Balenciaga’s handling of its controversial ad campaign shows us that continued comments and actions around negative news drive increasingly higher readership.

We break down the top readership moments of the last year, the topics that drive brand and leadership coverage, headlines that break through the noise, and so much more.

Ad Value Equivalency is fundamentally flawed, but is it fixable?

I still remember holding a ruler against my magazine clippings, hoping a client’s placement took up enough space to be considered ⅓ of the page versus ¼. It was my first job out of college: a boutique public relations agency serving fashion brands. An account assistant, I was tasked with compiling Ad Value Equivalency, or AVE, reports.

Each quarter, I dutifully pulled out the ruler to determine what percent of a page in GQ my client’s sneakers took up (let’s say 33%), and multiplied that by how much a full page ad would cost to run in GQ ($143,681 at the time, I checked). The Ad Value Equivalency for getting those sneakers into the hands of a stylist, who in turn put them in the final shot: $47,415. Rinse and repeat until I had a full tally of how much my client would have paid in advertising for the coverage produced through PR.

Was it bulletproof? Of course not. Comparing advertisements to media coverage was, and still is, an apples-to-oranges comparison.

But was it really that bad? I’d argue no! Since the magazine’s ad rates were determined by its monthly circulation and audience, that ad rate was a decent proxy for the caliber of placement. If the placement took up less than a full page, my handy ruler accounted for that. We avoided subjective multipliers to account for added value of earned over paid. For print coverage, AVE gave my client a solid metric to track each quarter, and it let the agency demonstrate the millions of dollars in value we were generating. So where did it all go wrong?

AVE didn’t evolve with the rise of digital media

Let’s say I got those sneakers featured today on AVE would have me take the site’s 10 million unique monthly visitors, multiply them by a percentage of traffic I think saw that placement (let’s generously say 1%), and then multiply it by whatever GQ charges for an impression of a display ad on the page. With a hypothetical display ad rate of $50 per 1000 impressions, or $0.05 per visitor, the AVE for my hard-earned placement comes out to 10,000,000 * 1% * $0.5 = $5,000. 

Yikes. At some point over the last two decades, the sneaker placement went from being valued at $47k to a “generous” $5k. Is earned media truly less valuable in the digital age, or is something else at play?

“The greatest trick advertising ever pulled on PR was getting the industry to use its math”

I’ve heard Memo CEO Eddie Kim come back to this refrain a lot. He argues that the biggest issue with AVE in the digital age isn’t that it’s derived from inaccurate potential reach numbers or that it makes assumptions about how many people saw the content.

AVE’s fundamental flaw is taking an entire article – where a reader is actively engaging with content about a brand for 80 seconds on average – and comparing it to the rate for a small box on the page that we’re conditioned to tune out. Finding a true apples-to-apples comparison means completely rethinking the foundation of AVE in the digital age.

What if we treated an article like the destination it is: a landing page

We can think of an article as a landing page, and this opens up an entirely new way to assign a dollar value to earned media. Our full methodology for MRV (Memo Readership Value) is outlined here. In brief, MRV calculates what it would cost a marketing team to pay for the engagement that was earned by PR and uses three inputs:

  1. The article’s unique visitors (what Memo reports as readership)
  2. How each unique visitor came to that article (i.e. how many readers found the article through Google search, via Twitter, through a newsletter, etc)
  3. The cost-per-click rates associated with each of those channels, as a comp for how much a paid media team would need to pay in order to replicate the earned engagement of PR

The result is a dollar-based value for an earned placement based on relevant paid-media math. Instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole like AVE, MRV uses newly available, accurate data to completely reinvent a way to show ROI for PR.

TL;DR: MRV does what AVE could not

AVE is fundamentally flawed because it equates a full article with a small digital ad. We shouldn’t be calculating value based on ad space but rather how much it costs to drive traffic to the article content via equivalent cost-per-click rates. That’s what MRV does. 

For the first time, you get an accurate view of impact through readership and you can demonstrate ROI for all your work. Bonus: we do the math so you don’t have to.

Potential reach does not equal readership.

PR measurement is broken. Desperate for a way to measure value and impact, the industry centered around impressions and volume decades ago. In all corners of business, metrics advanced. Yet, measuring public relations remained staggeringly stagnant. From impressions, we derived reach. From volume, we derived a share of voice. The problem is, there are so many assumptions made that all of these metrics are built on a crumbling foundation.

Risk manager, media researcher, and lecturer at NC State University Jim Pierpoint published a series of research around media monitoring and PR measurements. He unpacks the evolution of volume-based metrics, reach, and why none of it adds up to any accurate calculation of impact. In this blog, we recap some of Pierpoint’s findings along with some of our own.

The foundation of PR measurement is antiquated.

Two professors from NC Chapel Hill conducted a study during the1968 presidential election (published in 1972) to understand how mass media sets the public agenda. They surveyed a sample of 100 Chapel Hill voters and found a near-perfect correlation between what they thought to be the most important issues during the campaign and the issues covered by the press. This study, “The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media,” birthed the foundation of PR measurement: the media sets the agenda for the public, so news volume is a measure of public opinion.

Over time, other dimensions were added to the concept of content analysis – e.g. tonality, potential reach based on a publication’s monthly unique visitors, social engagement with an article, etc. But at its core, this 1968 study based on 100 people without any causality told the industry that volume was a sufficient proxy for measuring reach, when we know now that this is not true.

Not all mentions are equal.

All comms people know that a feature in The New York Times is not the same as a mention in a trade publication, and vice versa. Yet, sheer volume metrics count every mention as an equal. Perhaps the next evolution of clip books and volume counts is share of voice – simply comparing volume against the competition. Here’s the thing, it’s still just volume. Sometimes (most of the time) more isn’t better, it’s just more.

In an effort to measure impact over volume, the industry calibrated on measuring PR in terms of circulation, unique visitors, and viewership. Counting circulation numbers for each piece of coverage is fundamentally flawed. If you secure three pieces of coverage in a publication that attracts 6 million unique visitors monthly, you multiply unique monthly visitors by the number of articles published. Truly astronomical numbers derived from potential reach. None of which is rooted in reality.

Does every article or mention of your brand get read by all monthly visitors? Maybe? Hopefully? Probably not.

Traditional media monitoring tools tried to solve for this by adding social listening to account for the added amplification of social channels. But as we’ve shown, social engagement with an article is not correlated with that article’s readership.

Potential reach metrics are exploding beyond reality

It is unrealistic to think that everyone who visits a publication within a month reads every article every time they visit, but that’s how traditional media monitoring tools estimate reach. According to media monitoring estimates cited in Pierpoint’s research, “reach” exceeded 250 million potential readers on 33 different days over the past 12 months for one particular company’s press coverage. Reach exceeded the total adult population of the United States on 33 different days. On 15 of those days, the imputed reach exceeded 300 million, and on the biggest news day, the imputed reach exceeded 600 million.

“According to the media monitoring data, not only did every American adult see news about this company on every one of those days, but for that data point to be accurate, we each saw the news coverage more than once.”

Jim Pierpoint in Proof of Concept: Reach does not equal Readership

Pierpoint points out that the already inflated reach numbers based on monthly visitors compounded with the number of media programs (from three network news broadcasts to dozens of cable and online news programs) amounts to an explosion in potential reach.

In 6 regression analyses between potential reach of published news about companies (aka impressions or UVMs) and actual article readership of that published news (aka unique visitors to an article), Pierpoint found correlations were as low as 0.40 (with 1.0 being a perfect positive correlation, and a “strong” correlation being about 0.7).

To stress test what correlations ranging from 0.40-0.68 mean for using potential reach as a proxy for actual readership, Pierpoint ran “Top 10” tests. He compared the top 10 news days based on potential reach against the top 10 news days based on actual readership. Only 2 days overlapped (80% error rate) for the technology company mentioned earlier, and error rates ranged from 20% to 90% – so…highly inconsistent.

At this point, potential reach is so far removed from reality, it should be a crime to call it reach.

Redefining readership and staying rooted in reality

Measuring potential reach and views will cause PR inflation. The correlation between potential reach and actual reach is statistically unreliable, making it a risky business metric. Pierpoint’s primary takeaway is “to generate actionable insights, we need to measure both news that was published and news people actually read.”

Readership, impressions, and reach are all used interchangeably by tools that thrive on confusion and ambiguity. Potential reach does not mean readership. Impressions do not equal readership. Competitive volume comparisons do not give an accurate depiction of the competitive landscape. Readership means the number of people who read article(s) mentioning your brand. Period. And that’s how you actually measure impact.

Takeaways from this year’s PR Measurement & Data Summit

“Our industry is always trying to justify its value. As it turns out, that value has been hiding in plain sight.” 

With these words, Memo Chief Customer Officer Karlie Santucci concluded her lightning talk to a room of 100 PR professionals who convened for the industry’s annual Measurement & Data Summit, presented by PRNEWS. 

The topic of Karlie’s presentation, “Measuring the Value of Earned Media,” was top-of-mind for attendees. Throughout the full-day summit last Thursday, speakers reiterated the importance of tying PR and Communications to larger business and marketing objectives. 

But evaluating how those PR/Comms activities impact outcomes has historically been a challenge. Here are what some of the industry’s brightest had to say:

PR measurement takeaway #1: Better measurement lets us re-examine how we value earned media

To start, we’re surrounded by signals that earned media is highly valuable. CEOs attributing PR for their success on earnings calls. CMOs championing earned media as crucial to marketing programs. $17 billion spent annually on PR in the US (an investment that would not be made were it not producing value).

Memo MRV slide 1: The business value of earned media is more clear

But quantifying this value remains a challenge, and faulty attempts like AVE didn’t help the cause. 

Today, better measurement lets us re-examine how we value earned media. Here’s how:

  • For a given article, we know 1) its total number of readers, and 2) how those readers came to that article (e.g. from a Facebook post, Google search, a newsletter, etc).
Memo MRV slide 2: Memo reports how many people read articles
  • Think of that article – a great piece of press about your brand that you’d want eyeballs on – as a landing page.
Memo MRV slide 3: If we think of an article as a landing page, how much would marketing spend to drive readers?
  • What would it cost a marketing team to drive the same number of readers to that page with paid media? For readers who came via Facebook, marketers would have to buy Facebook ads at an average of $1-4/click depending on the industry. For readers from Google Ads, marketers would pay about $3-8/click depending on the industry.
Memo MRV slide 4: We know the ad rates for industries because they're available in ad platforms
  • MRV (Memo Readership Value) assigns industry-specific ad rates to article readership based on how each reader discovered that article, providing a paid-media value for the engagement that was earned by PR/Comms.
Memo MRV slide 5: MRV assigns a dollar value to earned media

This method doesn’t capture the full value of earned media. It doesn’t account for the deep engagement on an article (80 seconds on average!) or the halo effect of a great story.

But this method evens the playing field between PR and Marketing measurement, making it easier to translate earned results into tangible numbers.

Memo MRV slide #6

This method, “Memo Readership Value” (MRV), is how Memo assigns a paid-media dollar value to earned readership. Doing so allows Comms teams to defend PR budgets, justify and grow headcount, and finally put earned and paid measurement on an even playing field.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Memo can harness readership for your organization, schedule a demo to learn more.

PR measurement takeaway #2: PR/Comms can no longer be siloed from Marketing, in planning or measurement

Capital One’s Julia Schroeder set the tone when she kicked off the summit keynote emphasizing that Comms KPIs should be grounded in marketing goals. 

In a panel titled “State of PR Measurement & 2023 Trend Preview,” Ketchum’s Mary Elizabeth Germaine noted that the expectation from clients is that PR data is included in the broader marketing mix, and Dan Roberti added that ADL’s Comms and Marketing results are presented in a single, combined report. 

Gaetan Akinrolabu demoed the integrated dashboard Mirati uses that combines the company’s owned, earned, social, and paid metrics – all pulled in from various teams’ tooling.

And no one spelled it out more bluntly than measurement consultant Katie Paine:  “Don’t be in a situation where marketing is perceived as more valuable than earned because they have better measurement.”

Fortunately, as Karlie said, accurate metrics like readership and MRV put earned and paid measurement on an even playing field. Marketing can report 20M website visits, Comms can report 20M article readers, and the results of the two functions can be evaluated fairly.

PR measurement takeaway #3: AVE is long dead, but the industry hasn’t figured out what to do with impressions

AVE (Ad Value Equivalency) was barely mentioned during the summit. When it was, it was as a “nonsensical” attempt to assign value to earned media – another reason why Karlie’s walkthrough of MRV (Memo Readership Value) was so refreshing. 

The role that impressions/potential reach/UVMs should play in PR measurement, however, was more ambiguous.

One team at the summit said they only use impressions as a proxy for publication authority. Most admitted to including them in reporting, but not giving them much credence. And one team monitored impressions regularly, dividing them by 30 in search of a more “accurate” daily view. 

Parting thoughts: If PR/Comms needs to work with marketing, it also needs to measure like marketing

No matter how you slice it, any PR measurement that incorporates impressions will be incredibly misleading. Article readership varies widely within a publication. A uniform metric like impressions masks the major wins and opportunities of a PR program. And it makes it impossible to translate earned-media performance into numbers aligned with marketing reporting.

Everyone agreed last Thursday that PR and Communications should have a seat at the table with Marketing. But in 2022, when readership is readily available and much more insightful, we need to break free of the inertia that keeps PR and Communications measurement so siloed.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Memo can harness readership for your organization, schedule a demo to learn more.

Why social media has broken social listening, and how to fill the gaps

Key takeaways:

  • Social platforms that once served up a silver platter of data on earned-media engagement have deprioritized news articles.
  • With often <10% of article traffic originating from social media – and little correlation between the two – social listening is a misleading proxy for article readership.
  • It’s time to rethink the role of social listening for Comms and Marketing, and find new data sources to fill the gaps.

23% of U.S. adults use Twitter.

And among them, just 10% are responsible for 92% of Tweets.

It’s a surprising finding coming from the Pew Research Center, but should I be so shocked given my own habits? I have a Twitter account that I use for some aggressive lurking, but never Tweeting. When I want to share an article I found on Facebook, I usually copy the link and fire it off in group texts or Slack channels. I might like the occasional post from a brand on Instagram, but I’m acutely aware of the activity my friends, family, and ex-boyfriends can see on the platform. While I wouldn’t go so far to call myself the norm, that Pew study suggests I’m not an exception either. 

With so much engagement on brand content happening outside of social channels – and with the engagement inside those channels driven by the vocal minority – what role does social listening serve for Comms and Marketing teams? To understand where social listening can continue to provide valuable intel, we first need to dissect where it’s no longer relevant in 2022:

The days of measuring earned media performance with social are waning.

There was a time when the only datapoint we had for quantifying article performance was potential impressions (i.e. the publication’s unique monthly visitors). So when news content exploded on Facebook and Twitter, it’s no surprise that PR & Comms teams flocked to social listening tools to report actual engagement with articles posted to feeds – finally a more tangible metric!

But news content just doesn’t have the same prominence it did a decade ago on social media. When analyzing our users’ press, Memo’s Insights team often finds that social referred less than 10% of an article’s traffic (organic search, email, aggregators, and the publication’s own website are more common traffic drivers).

Most articles about these brands received less than 10% of their traffic from social media channels over a 28-day period.

With Facebook and Instagram emphasizing creator content over posts from your followers, and with Meta further confirming it will no longer pay publications for content in the News tab, the decline in news readership from social media is likely to continue.

Social engagement on an article isn’t even directionally indicative of readership.

Measuring the performance of news content via social engagement is incredibly misleading: the number of likes/shares/comments an article receives is not directional to how many people actually read that article. 

To illustrate, take the below mapping of social engagement (vertical axis) against article readership (horizontal axis) for 600 articles about a large fast food restaurant. There is no discernible trend that defines the relationship between how much engagement an article receives on social media and how many times that article is actually read. (Technically the correlation coefficient here is 0.18, so a very weak positive relationship.)

Many highly read articles have low social engagement – not surprising given how little traffic social often refers to articles.

Conversely, some articles have high social engagement but relatively low readership – also not surprising given that users share articles without reading them (usually on hot-button issues) and the proliferation of spam bots.

This unpredictability in how users interact with news content on social media is also driven by changes to the platforms themselves – changes that have implications to marketing more broadly. 

Beyond PR, platform changes have also made social listening a less valuable signal for marketers.

The social media landscape is undergoing a seismic shift. “TikTok says it’s an ‘entertainment platform.’ Snapchat calls itself a ‘camera company.’ Meta says it’s a ‘metaverse’ company. The era in which social networking served as most users’ primary experience of the internet is moving behind us,” to quote Axios’ Sara Fischer, who was in turn summarizing Scott Rosenberg’s article “Sunset of the social network.”

Platforms that once served up a silver platter of data on consumer trends, brand relevance, and news engagement are moving away from the user experiences that facilitated this centralized measurement. Public news feeds are giving way to private groups and messaging channels; posts authored by connections are being supplanted by creator content; and short-form videos are the future.

Even Twitter, the most accessible platform to social listening tools, is in flux: it has yet to find a sustainable business model and is one acquisition away from an overhaul of its own. Until then, discourse is skewed to a minority of users (the 10% of power Tweeters), and politically biased (over two-thirds of those users identify as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents). 

This isn’t to say social listening doesn’t have value; we just need to acknowledge its gaps.  

We need to be more judicious about what we rely on social for, and where we supplement gaps with other data. I’ve already discussed the shortcomings of using social listening to measure earned-media engagement, so let’s take another use case:

Using Twitter as a barometer for brand health, for example, can easily over-index on the negative. Among the 90% of infrequent Tweeters, how many emerge only to @ an airline for missing luggage or air some other grievance in hope of rectification? If Twitter is for complaining, it can certainly help measure threats to brand health, but it will overlook the engagement happening outside the platform with more positive brand stories.

And we need other data sources to reveal the trends that social listening can no longer surface.

There’s a trove of content about brands that people engage with everyday online: articles in the press. And unlike social platforms – where most activity is public to at least a group of followers – engagement with articles is often private. Readership is free of participation bias, virtue signaling, and algorithm manipulation. It’s an honest signal for the stories and brands that consumers are interested in and, for the first time, it’s finally measurable.

How to roll out readership in your Comms org: 9 tactics from Memo customers

“Data like readership is for the Comms team of the future. A change not for the unambitious – and a challenge to the status quo that has eclipsed PR for decades.” –CCO, Fortune 500 company

How can I convince the data skeptics in our group to track readership? How do we send campaign reports with thousands of readers when executives are used to millions of impressions? How have other customers introduced this new metric?

You’re not alone. We’ve heard it all. From the most data-hungry communications teams to groups just getting their measurement practice off the ground, all Memo customers share the same challenge: adopting a metric of earned-media measurement for which there is no organizational precedent or historical context.

But change is the only constant in life, as the adage goes, and PR measurement is definitely changing. It would be disingenuous to pretend that widely adopting readership is as easy as flipping a switch; most of our customers are global corporations with a complex network of Comms groups and stakeholders to navigate. 

Yet time and time again, we’ve seen our users grow from a core group of early adopters at a brand to an organization-wide audience. Here are 9 ways we’ve seen these customers successfully introduce and report out readership, often in combination with each other. 

The takeaway: Rolling readership out incrementally, leading with insights, and reporting in a way that is aligned with but enhances existing practices is the best way to garner buy-in and adoption.

Introduce readership incrementally (#1-3)

Instead of overhauling their PR reporting from the outset, most teams find success rolling out readership incrementally. This means a select group of people have access to Memo’s platform, and they selectively loop in new team members through various reports. Over time, stakeholders get accustomed to seeing readership regularly and begin to proactively request readership in additional reporting.

Here are the Memo tools we’ve seen leveraged to slowly but steadily disseminate readership: 

#1: Circulate top-read press via daily Readership Emails 

These daily reports of the three top-read headline and non-headline mentions are an easy way to start distributing readership data throughout an organization. There’s no limit on the number of recipients, and we’ve seen these emails balloon from a group of four people in a measurement team to dozens of Comms employees, all the way up to the CCO.

#2: Isolate readership with campaign-specific Flash Reports

Many customers use Flash Reports, which are on-demand readership summaries of specific campaigns or news cycles, as a stepping stone to reporting out readership more broadly.

Flash Reports answer questions that are top-of-mind for a team running a campaign – e.g. How many people did we reach? Which outlets had the biggest impact? How did interest in this news cycle play out over time? – without making them sift through data on coverage that’s not relevant to them.

#3: Dazzle executives with MRV summaries

To combat the common fear that “trading millions of impressions for thousands of readers” will make communicators look worse (it won’t, we promise!), presenting MRV (Memo Readership Value) alongside readership to executives is a great entry point to reframing the value of a reader.

We write more about MRV here, but in brief, it’s a methodology to assign a dollar value to earned readership using paid-media rates in a way made possible with accurate article readership and traffic source data.

Lead with insights (#4-6)

Many customers generate buy-in for readership by showing how easily it lifts the veil on long-held questions and takes the guesswork out of campaign planning. Leading with insights over metrics will help connect the dots between readership and how it can be actioned. Here are some ways to surface these insights:

#4: Report aggregate readership at the outlet level

Definitively answering which outlets and reporters perform best for your campaigns is nothing short of a superpower – and fortunately this intel is readily available in your Memo dashboard. 

Next time you’re tasked with providing strategic guidance on media outreach, filter your coverage for topics related to that campaign and you’ll have a clear view into the most impactful sources:

#5: Share findings and takeaways from Insights Reports

Insights Reports are custom analyses designed to answer key questions on earned-media performance and strategy, and readership has taken these insights to a whole new level (see 10 PR strategy questions finally answered with Insights Reports). 

We’ve witnessed multiple customers get Comms groups hooked on readership by introducing it through insights reporting. Typically, our primary contacts monitor for opportune moments to support analyses and planning with readership. They’ll tell their Memo rep the questions they’re hoping to answer with readership, and our Insights team gets to work. 

#6: Introduce readership within a Reporter Database

Memo’s Reporter Database isn’t just a list of names with the coverage they’ve authored; it’s an entirely new way of helping Media Relations teams prioritize relationship building and outreach. It includes readership on reporters’ articles, tags for frequently covered topics, and summary stats for easy comparison.

Enhance existing reporting (#7-9)

Finally, customers often treat readership as additive in the early days, using it to enhance existing measurement while they allow time to understand the best way to phase out legacy practices.  

#7: Report readership alongside other metrics

One large corporation was not ready to eliminate UVMs from their global reporting, but still wanted to include readership in campaign summaries. So in a global campaign recap, they reported their usual metrics – clip counts, UVMs, social engagement – and introduced a new metric: “verified readers from our new partner, Memo.” 

#8: Report relative performance instead of absolute values

For groups that are anchored on massive impression numbers, it can take time to make readership palatable, especially if those audiences aren’t privy to the insights and context of longtime Memo users. Ways we’ve seen customers report out readership results without readership itself include:

  • % of your brand’s readership driven by a specific article/publication/topic (e.g. “this placement is responsible for 58% of our announcement’s readership”)
  • An article’s readership percentile (e.g. “this placement’s performance is in the 90th percentile for our historical coverage”) 
  • The % of readership your brand received on an outlet relative to competitors (e.g. “Acme Corp had over 2x more readership on Fortune last month than competitors”)

#9: Add “share of readership” to SOV reports

Related to the above, monitoring share of readership amongst competitors, especially when contrasted with share of coverage volume, reveals who is generating meaningful engagement with their press – and is a powerful way to demonstrate why readership provides a more accurate view of media performance.

There’s no silver bullet to transforming a measurement practice overnight, but Memo provides multiple tools (and some wonderful customer success reps) to help you steadily introduce readership and prove the value of more accurate measurement.

How we rebranded Memo to reflect the future of narrative + data

In the three years since Memo was founded, we’ve seen incredible traction: Fortune 10 brands adopting readership, premier publications coming on board, and category-defining investors joining in on our vision.

But our visual identity didn’t reflect this progress or the impact we still hoped to make. So we underwent a visual rebrand to better communicate Memo’s unique and growing role in the PR & Comms space. 

We started with the qualities Memo’s brand had to convey

We believe in the power of narrative to define our world, and the necessity of data to evaluate it.

As a company bringing entirely new data to the PR industry, Memo needed a modern visual identity that would speak to the modern Communicator, and a look and feel that was completely differentiated from the legacy solutions those customers were looking to move away from.

But the other side of Memo’s business – the publications we partner with for readership data – was rooted in a time-honored tradition that we also wanted to pay homage to.

The resulting visual identity therefore needed to be bold but reliable, and blend modernity with heritage.

We selected colors that emphasized Memo’s unique offering in the PR industry

Our color scheme had to achieve two goals: 1) reflect our brand values, and 2) set Memo apart from legacy PR measurement platforms.

Communicating both a trust for and the novelty of Memo’s data were key, so our primary colors are a dark blue – to signal that our platform is reliable, serious, and bold – and a bright turquoise, a freshness to establish Memo as different from the rest.

Secondary colors include a bright yellow, whose warmth introduces an approachability we aim to cultivate in how we present our data and work with customers, and a periwinkle purple, which transmits wisdom and intelligence.

Typography choices represent a modern solution grounded in a reverence for tradition

We wanted Memo’s primary typeface to be a serif, both to signal the dependability and sophistication of our data, and as an homage to the tradition of news publishing from which that data stems. We ultimately chose Skolar because it carries the connotations of a serif font while also including unique elements, like strokes that were less angular and more approachable.

To balance this with an element of modernity, we chose a sans serif for the secondary typeface, specifically Open Sans for its legibility and friendly appearance.

Introducing the accessibility of Open Sans to the traditionalism of Skolar mirrored Memo’s own mission to bring new clarity and insight to the practice of public relations. 

We designed a logo to echo how Memo is introducing a new era for PR measurement 

We paired a wordmark in Inknut Antiqua – a serif again as a nod to publishers but with a modern take – with an icon that tells Memo’s story.

The “M” of the icon is constructed out of geometric shapes, representing a narrative that gets constructed from new pieces of information. 

The container of the icon mimics a dog-eared page as a metaphor for marking important information. The lower right placement further signifies the turning of a page, much as Memo is moving PR measurement and strategy into the future. The bright blue further reinforces this fresh perspective.

Graphical elements are derived from Memo’s logo for a distinct look and feel

Geometric patterns derived from the logo icon’s square container and triangular corner get repeated in Memo’s brand colors, creating simple patterns throughout the website.

These patterns are incorporated into imagery that alludes to our product benefits without being overly literal, allowing the corresponding text to tell the story. Images are styled with corner cuts that also mimic the logo icon, reinforcing how Memo lifts the curtain with readership data.

This branding exercise, in addition to curating a distinct look and feed for Memo, helped us crystallize the values we care most about as a brand: creating a future that unlocks the tremendous value both publications and the PR industry deliver.