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.