How communications teams are using Memo readership for strategy planning

It’s planning season and the Customer Experience team has been heads down holding user feedback calls. It’s a recurring exercise that gives us a pulse on how communications teams are actioning readership data and helps us prioritize 2023’s product strategy to support them.

Among discussions of feature requests and upcoming launches (publication regions! campaign tags!), one big theme emerged: readership data has become valuable input into our customers’ own 2023 strategy. 

Many comms teams are in the middle of planning how their brands’ key messages will be delivered to which audiences via which channels next year. Whether it’s for weighing different channels, setting next year’s benchmarks, or revising strategy based on newly discovered trends, accurate readership data (that is, the unique visitors to an article) provides a tangible guide for planning and prioritizing. Keep reading for 5 examples our team sees every day.

To learn more about how accurate readership can uncover real impact and help you make smarter comms decisions, check out Memo’s approach to comms measurement.

Media relations planning (part 1): Assessing beat reporters on readership

Customers with dedicated reporters covering their brands and industries often run 2022 lookbacks to understand which beat reporters are delivering for them.

Previously, these analyses were conducted with volume and sentiment, but that doesn’t actually reveal impact. Readership adds a new layer of intelligence, revealing the beat reporters who actually get the most eyeballs on their coverage.

Users who also track competitor readership have built-in benchmarking to understand where their readership sits relative to other content authored by a reporter. In both cases, these teams have a clearer direction for who to target for the year and can tailor their activities accordingly.

Media relations planning (part 2): Finding new highly-read reporters to prioritize

“When it comes to the media landscape, I only know who I know. Help me learn who I don’t know.” Our team gets this request a lot, especially when it comes to placing stories that extend beyond brand and product news. 

For example, an office-supply store could pitch its new category of “work from anywhere” products to one of its go-to retail industry reporters. If they want to be a thought leader in the era of hybrid work, they need to look beyond the retail beat for inclusion in broader stories about the future of work. 

Understanding the reporters writing about thematic issues that span multiple brands and industries is one of the most-requested insights reports from our team, especially as comms groups map out their priority channels for upcoming brand news and narratives.

Planning brand messaging: Identifying the most-read angles and outlets for key stories

Regarding narrative, most Memo customers know the news stories that reflect their brand values and vision. For example, a technology company might want to focus on news around digital transformation and ethical AI next year. A retailer might want to associate its brand with stories about smarter consumer spending and supply chain responsibility.

They turn to readership data to better understand the sources telling those stories. Filtering their readership by topics and outlets helps comms teams spot the factors that drive readership on a theme, such as headline angles, publications, and reporters – all intel that can inform content planning for the year ahead. (For more on this, see “All about article topics, Memo’s secret weapon for readership insights.”

These topic-based analyses are also an area where users often lean on our Insights Analysts, who help countless brands understand readership trends in areas ranging from broad themes like ESG to specific moments like the Super Bowl

Planning brand moments: Learning from past events to inform future campaigns

For discreet moments in the coming year – product launches, seasonal campaigns, events, etc – reviewing readership from similar moments in 2022 can highlight the publications that are likely to drive the highest traffic and awareness for brands. 

Impressions can be highly misleading and can prompt teams to overlook publications that attract high readership for specific topics. As our Insights Team illustrates in a report that compares actual readership to potential reach, publications with relatively low monthly traffic often outperform highly-trafficked outlets in certain subject areas. This visibility into a publication’s strengths is especially important when allocating scarce resources such as exclusives, press day invites, and executive interviews.

In addition to looking at their own historical performance, comms teams with competitor tracking also frequently analyze comparable moments from industry peers. The benefits here are twofold: they see the publications covering competitors that they’re under-indexed on, revealing a clear path to grow share of voice, and they get readership benchmarks for their industry to set measurable goals around.

Tracking results over time: Running YoY readership comparisons

Understanding which placements drove readership in the past provides valuable signals about the tactics to lean into next year. Many users work with the Customer Experience team to pull year-over-year readership analyses, especially for recurring and cyclical news cycles (e.g. annual conferences, seasonal sales, etc). Looking at changes in how readers engaged with coverage from previous rounds can identify the strategic and tactical shifts moving the needle.

I could go on listing all the ways customers have leaned on readership for comms planning. But for now, I hope I’ve conveyed two overarching themes: first, accurate readership data has transformed communications strategy. While it is particularly noticeable this time of year, it’s something we see day-in, day-out working with such innovative customers. 

Second, I hope it’s clear how supportive the Customer Experience and Insights teams are in these exercises. We truly take a consultative approach to answer our customers’ questions, working together to shape the report’s methodology and presentation. And if you don’t know where to start, we have no shortage of ideas. Contact your customer success rep or email success@memo.co anytime.

To learn more about how accurate readership can uncover real impact and help you make smarter comms decisions, check out Memo’s approach to comms measurement.


Read more like this:

Readership in a crisis: 4 ways PR teams use Memo for Crisis Communications

In today’s hyperconnected world, crises can erupt in an instant. A single tweet, memo, or decision can ignite a firestorm of negative press.

Other times, it’s a slow burn. You hear murmurings of a reporter working on a piece, you get the call for a statement, then you wait.

Either way, a crisis news cycle can mean late nights and lost weekends fielding emails from the C-suite, panicked over the negative stories, and desperate to put out the fire. But just how big are the flames? Are they getting bigger, or starting to die down? Is there even much of a fire at all?

Knowing exactly how many people are reading coverage during a negative news cycle can answer those questions and feel like a lifesaver. Article readership data (i.e. unique visitors to an article) brings weekend-saving clarity and direction for crisis communications and rapid response. Below are 4 ways Memo customers incorporate readership into crisis comms.

To learn more about how accurate readership can uncover the true impact of a crisis, check out Memo’s approach to comms measurement.

1) Verify the extent of a crisis story with article readership

The Comms teams I’ve spoken to all say something similar: “we know when a crisis story is bad, and we know when it’s nothing, but we don’t know about everything in the middle.” 

Just because a national outlet like the New York Times or Forbes published a negative article about your brand doesn’t mean everyone will read it, regardless of what your CEO might fear. For example, these three headlines (in alphabetical order) are from the same publication. One has 2,000 readers, another 200,000, and another 2,000,000 readers:*

“FedEx driver dumped packages at least six times in ‘debacle’”
“Jury awards woman Walmart accused of shoplifting $2.1 million”
“Outages at Slack, other websites paralyze businesses”

This 1,000x differential in article readership is not unusual. (To learn why see our report “3 graphs that illustrate the problem with PR impressions.”

At its very least, having article readership readily available when a story breaks can be, as someone I spoke to once put it, “a chill pill for my CEO.” If the story isn’t gaining traction, responding could only create more noise and awareness than the story had initially.

And at its best, readership provides crucial guidance into managing a crisis after a story breaks, which brings me to my next point:

2) Form a response and allocate resources based on the outlets and angles fueling the fire

When formulating a response in a crisis news cycle, it helps to know what to respond to. In some cases, this could be what’s getting the most attention.

For example, let’s take Starbucks. As many positive articles they receive about the return of the pumpkin spice latte this season, there lately seem to be just as many (if not more) about its baristas moving to unionize. When it comes to hot-button issues, the spin on a story can create a narrative with a life of its own. Take a look at the following headlines:

“Starbucks CEO to unionizing baristas: ‘Why don’t you go somewhere else?’” (New York Post)
“Starbucks Just Fired a Union Organizer for Allegedly Breaking a Sink” (Vice)
“Starbucks weighing better benefits but says they could exclude union workers” (CNBC)

All of these articles came from the same news cycle only a few days apart, but there’s an 8x difference in readership between the least-read and most-read headline.* This data reveals which narratives resonate most with the public, and could help Starbucks target and prioritize a response plan. Should the rapid response team recommend a clarifying statement from the CEO? Or talk to HR about the alleged sink incident? Or get a spokesperson out to CNBC? 

3) Benchmark readership on a crisis internally and against competitors

Comparing the extent of a crisis news cycle against others like it helps communications teams create a benchmark that contextualizes the severity. Put another way, it tells you how bad is bad.

I’ve seen Memo customers do this in a couple of ways. In some cases, they’ll compare readership on a recently concluded news cycle to past crisis events. This allows teams to, for example, track the effect of a response on how quickly issues were contained relative to the past. 

In other cases, they’ll look at crises weathered by competitors or industry comps. Just as share of readership on proactive press shows the initiatives working for your brand and competition, readership share on negative press can reveal which brands are getting hit hardest in the press. For industry-wide crises (e.g. big tech antitrust, cryptocurrency sell offs, etc), this type of readership benchmarking also contextualizes how your company is faring compared to competitors.

4) Identify crisis news readership trends to better equip your team in the future

The first rule of crisis comms is actually talking about crisis comms. Plan for a crisis in advance. Errant tweets, leaked memos, and unpopular decisions will happen. Understanding how past news cycles have played out – the trajectory over time, the readership on spokespeople responses, what outlets and reporters had the biggest impact – can help crisis communications teams anticipate their needs.

As an example, Memo’s insights team found that for one brand’s recent negative news cycle, 79% of readership was driven by articles published within the first three days. The average readership on each article published after that three-day window slowly declined each day. Given the recurring nature of this type of story, the Comms team can operate with clearly defined timing parameters in the future.

To learn more about how accurate readership can uncover the true impact of a crisis, check out Memo’s approach to comms measurement.

*Due to contractual obligations, Memo cannot publicly release our publications’ article-level unique visitor data, so I use differentials and anonymized publications where appropriate.

10 PR strategy questions finally answered with Insights Reports

The Insights Team at Memo helps Comms groups answer their most pressing PR measurement and strategy questions with custom, on-demand reporting. These are questions that – prior to readership data – had few quantifiable answers beyond potential reach estimates and social-engagement extrapolation. Now with just a prompt and a little context from the customer, our team can provide definitive answers and strategic guidance grounded in an accurate, straightforward metric.

Below are just 10 out of the hundreds of questions we’ve helped answer with readership over the past year. (To protect our customers’ privacy, I’ve purposefully kept these anonymous and light on any industry-specific details.) I hope these questions inspire new and existing Memo customers to see what’s possible with better PR measurement.


Question #1: We are launching a product in a space that our PR team has little experience with. Can you help us understand the news landscape for this industry?

By rolling up article-level readership data by brand, topic, and publication, Memo is able to identify new opportunities and help guide communications plans for product launches in markets outside of our clients’ expertise. In this case, we did a deep dive into a specific industry to find the themes consumers are most interested in, what outlets and authors drive the highest readership in the space, and what brands are currently owning the conversation.

Question #2: This reporter/this outlet is always covering us negatively. Should we be worried?

Our customers know that impressions are wildly inaccurate: an outlet’s number of unique monthly visitors is a poor indicator of how many people read an individual article. And because readership varies so widely across articles, it can be difficult to tell when negative press is picking up steam versus stalling out before it’s too late. We did a deep dive into a particular reporter and outlet to help our client determine if their coverage was a cause for concern based on readership trends.

Question #3: What publications drive high readership for corporate ESG and DE&I campaigns?

Building awareness of their companies’ ESG and diversity initiatives is an ongoing goal for many customers, who (thanks to readership reporting) know that press volume does not always correlate with awareness. We partnered with our client to help make their ESG and DE&I campaigns more efficient by identifying the outlets and reporters getting the highest readership on these themes. We also called out the angles of ESG and DE&I stories that generated high readership for key industry players in the past.

Question #4: What press is causing consumer mistrust in our industry?

With negative press, social listening on its own makes it difficult to separate the stories generating passive engagement (a like here, a retweet there) from the stories consumers care deeply about. Our team analyzed readership by topic on articles critical of our customer and their competitors. We identified which negative themes had a high readership – an indication that these were issues consumers felt strongly enough about to read a full article – versus which negative press received relatively low reader interest. 

Question #5: What are consumers reading about regarding the future of work?

The largest corporations in the world are dictating what the future of work will look like for all of us. Recognizing their impact, one such corporation turned to readership data to help best communicate their own return-to-work decisions. In this analysis, our team looked at the entire future of work discussion online, helped our client understand the industries and brands generating the highest readership, identified the sub-topics that resonated the most, and highlighted top-read outlets and authors in the space.

Question #6: We know an outlet is about to publish an exposé on us. What can we expect the impact to be?

Memo helped one Comms group estimate the impact of an upcoming negative report by analyzing readership trends from similar situations in the past. We did a deep dive into the durations of past negative news cycles to give our client a sense of how long the story would capture readers’ attention. We also analyzed the effect that the publication had on the duration of the news cycle and the amount of additional readership from outlets that picked up the story.

Question #7: Our products are about to go on sale, and we want our customers to know. What can we do to improve the media coverage of the event?

Upstart brands can’t always afford to learn by trial and error, so we help them learn from established competitors. In this case, we analyzed the readership of a large competitor’s sale-event coverage to give our client insight into which outlets, topics, and authors would drive the best outcome for their media campaign.  

Question #8: How did readership and tone change from similar news cycles in the past?

News events can be recurring and even cyclical/predictable, but readership isn’t always consistent. Our team compared readership and brand sentiment on a more recent news cycle to identify changes in how coverage performed from previous rounds, including the highly-read articles, publications, and angles positively shifting the conversation.

Question #9: Our company just announced a new policy on a politically charged topic. How is it resonating?

Just three days after this announcement, Memo helped our customer identify the articles receiving the highest pick-up and readership. With real-time insights, we helped our clients determine which outlets to focus on for allocating spokespeople and other follow-up messaging.

Question #10: One of our competitors had a major labor issue. What was the total impact of their crisis?

One customer turned to readership to better understand the effects of a controversy on a competitor. Our team analyzed readership over time to understand the longevity of the conversation and identify when interest in the topic began to wane. We also analyzed readership on the competitor’s response to understand the types of coverage piqued reader interest most – all intel that could help our client better contextualize and prepare for their own strategic responses.


I hope these examples begin to illustrate some of the exciting, innovative work our team supports every day. If you’re a Memo customer and haven’t taken advantage of custom reporting, reach out to your customer success manager or email success@memo.co to get started. (And if you’re not a customer, book a demo below to learn more about Insights Reports and all the other new measurement tools enabled by readership data.)

3 ways brands can use Macro Readership Trends to guide PR strategy

How does our readership compare to other news stories? What events might be drawing attention to (or diverting attention away from) our press? Are there trending topics we should leverage in campaigns?

These were the questions from customers that prompted our team to launch Memo’s first-ever Macro Readership Trends report, a broad look at the stories driving news readership each quarter, with deep-dives into the most impactful articles, outlets, and reporters for each news cycle.

Topics analyzed in Q1 2022 range from tentpole events like the Super Bowl and Oscars, to evolving themes like the future of work and the US economy. As newsworthy stories broke, our team added them to the list to build out an analysis of 15 widely-read topics from January through March across a representative sample of 77 national, lifestyle, business, and sports outlets.* 

Below we highlight some learnings from last quarter’s Macro Readership Trends report and go over three ways PR teams can action this intel. This report is available to all Memo customers, and to anyone who books a demo of Memo’s readership tracking and insights platform.

Use Case #1: Spot the next wave of readership for upcoming PR campaigns

Readership on the topic of inflation was accelerating by the end of March 2022, with the average readership on an article increasing 150% from March 1 to March 31.

Because a large part of this coverage included rising gas prices, one Memo customer proposed incorporating inflation into how it positioned its environmental initiatives. 

Pegging their company’s corporate ESG announcement to a data-proven popular topic in the sustainability sphere could boost interest in what can often be a notoriously difficult subject for brands to garner readership on. 

Use Case #2: Time campaigns for recurring events around peak readership

Coverage of 2022’s NFL playoffs and Super Bowl peaked 12 days before the big game, on February 1. While total readership peaked on this day too, we found that average readership peaked on articles published the day after the Super Bowl, February 14.

High reader interest relative to the number of articles published right after game day presents a huge opportunity next year for brands to roll out final pieces of Super Bowl-related campaign content. Imagine a surprise epilogue on the Budweiser Clydesdale’s annual journey that gets released Monday, when millions of people are actively searching for articles on “Super Bowl ads.”

Understanding how readership plays out over the course of a recurring event – and optimizing campaign timing around days with diminishing article volume but sustained reader interest – can give brands a leg up in the race for attention.

Use Case #3: Get outlet and reporter readership intel from relevant news cycles

The future of work has been an ongoing theme in pandemic- and business-related coverage; our team compiled several Insights reports over the past year to help brands monitor readership trends for their own thought leadership in the space. 

Since the Macro Readership Trends report breaks out the top publications and journalists within each topic tracked, PR teams can see the sources driving readership around WFH policy announcements, the Great Resignation, workplace DE&I, and more – and prioritize media outreach accordingly.

The next quarter’s report is already well underway and will include readership trends on the Grammy Awards, Elon Musk’s Twitter bid, and the Metaverse. Book a demo to receive a copy of the most recent report, and learn more about brand-specific and industry-wide readership intelligence on Memo.


Macro Readership Trends methodology: Memo monitored media coverage of anticipated news cycles (e.g. the Super Bowl, the Oscars), ongoing stories (Covid, inflation, future of work), and notable events (the federal government distributing Covid test kits, celebrity deaths). Queries were built to ensure articles had a strong focus on the topic. Readership for all articles was tracked for the first seven days of publication. Articles were monitored across the same 77 national, business, lifestyle, and sports outlets for all topics.