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 4 customers showed ROI on their switch to readership

Return on investment. It’s a phrase used relentlessly in all aspects of business, and a particularly difficult metric for Comms teams to measure. Put another way, “being asked for ROI is the perennial thorn in my side,” per one Memo customer.

Determining a hard ROI from earned programs – that is, a quantifiable bottom-line outcome resulting directly from money invested – is in practice impossible. Not because earned press isn’t valuable, but because it is part of a larger customer journey and should be evaluated more holistically with an integrated marketing program.

For example, any traffic or sales you can directly attribute to an editorial product review only represent a fraction of that article’s wider impact. That press also drove brand awareness, product consideration, and purchase intent – even if that purchase happened several months after the fact. 

(That’s not to say there aren’t better ways to report the value of earned media. Memo’s goal has always been to help our customers prove with data what we already know: earned media is extremely valuable, we just need better measurement for it. Whether it’s providing metric parity with paid media, or even helping calculate the paid media cost of your earned engagement, readership is making the results PR delivers more tangible and moving us closer to isolating its ROI within the greater marketing mix.)

But given all the intangible outcomes that earned ROI fails to capture, proving out ROI on the tools you need to get the job done is even more difficult.

Fortunately, four Memo customers have paved the way, sharing how Memo’s data and team of experts helped them demonstrate a return on their platform investment. In brief, it comes down to showing how readership helped them move faster, plan better, and respond smarter.

#1: Time is money (return on media research)

A home-goods company was launching physical stores in a new location. They wanted to get the word out, but having no relationships or prior experience in this new region, they needed help determining which local outlets and journalists to pitch. 

To ensure they were spending their time and resources wisely, they leaned on Memo readership data to quickly identify the most-read local outlets and journalists to create a go-to-market strategy with assured success.  

#2: Don’t make a small problem a big problem (return on crisis response) 

A global fast food brand was in crisis, but didn’t know just how deep. Was their most recent crisis a national or maybe even global dilemma? Or was this actually only capturing attention in local markets where the incident occurred? 

Enter readership. Memo was able to confirm that while readers were somewhat engaged on local outlets, the story was generating very low readership on national news outlets. Based on this finding, the brand was able to minimize harm by not bringing more attention to the crisis with a national response, and instead developed a response strategy that was targeted locally.

#3: Turning good data into great data (return on business analytics)

An American automotive brand already had an impressive media quality scoring algorithm that they used to inform their communications strategy. It included inputs like sentiment, tonality, message pull-through, and potential reach. However, this last metric was inflating and skewing their dataset, creating a less valuable scoring output.

By replacing outlet-level potential reach with article-level readership in their algorithm, the brand was able to uncover a whole slew of insights by identifying varying performance at the article level and adjusting their strategy accordingly. (More on UVMs vs Readership here.)

#4: Timing is everything (return on campaign planning) 

A Comms team for a global streaming service was trying to understand why some competitors were more successful than others when promoting new content. 

Utilizing Memo insights reporting and our team of analysts, they found that while there were many similarities in the publications and even journalists writing about these launches, the clear indicator for success came down to timing. Memo analysts ran a timing analysis that pointed to higher readership on shorter campaigns. Specifically, campaigns that launched closer to the content release date were getting more engagement, with the sweet spot being 14-20 days prior to release.

The brand was able to use this insight to alter their launch strategy to minimize promotion and spending too soon, and ramp up efforts when they were 20 days out from release. This adjustment not only resulted in higher readership, but also time and cost savings leading up to the launch.

5 ways Comms orgs have upgraded media monitoring with Readership Emails

Every morning at 7:30, hundreds of people receive an email that tells them exactly how many people read their top press from the previous day.

On Wednesday afternoons, hundreds more get a snapshot of their most-read articles, publications, and topics from the previous week.

And each month, subscribers receive a broad summary of earned readership trends from the past 30 days.

All of this email reporting was automated in the past month, allowing us to offer upgraded media monitoring and measurement at scale. While Memo’s readership dashboard supports in-depth, exploratory trend analysis, we knew time-strapped Comms teams needed a way to quickly identify the stories, outlets, and competitors that deserve their attention. Readership Emails do exactly that, surfacing top-read mentions and high-level trends to spur further exploration.

Read on to learn more about daily, weekly, and monthly Readership Emails – and how PR & Comms teams are actioning this data every day.

#1: Use daily Readership Emails to surface big wins from current PR campaigns

Each morning, Memo automatically sends subscribers a daily digest of the previous day’s top-read headline and non-headline placements, as well as the most-read articles from the past three days. 

This alert gives Comms teams an easy way to spot campaign wins – an article with great pull through reached a wide audience, a syndicated piece was highly read on regionals in your target market, etc. – and an straightforward report to forward to stakeholders.

#2: Use daily Readership Emails to monitor and mitigate potential crisis stories

Given that social media often refers less than 5% of an article’s traffic (and that social engagement is not predictably correlated to readership), social listening platforms are not reliable for assessing whether a negative story that hasn’t yet blown up could evolve into a crisis situation down the road. To paraphrase one Memo customer: “we already know when a crisis is really bad; we need readership for the simmering stories that may or may not bubble over.”

Monitoring readership on negative articles allows Comms teams to better allocate scarce resources and spokespeople to the trending stories that need their attention, while also providing time-saving clarification on the ones that completely flew under the radar.

#3: Get a pulse check on your share of voice with weekly Readership Emails

Weekly emailed reports include the most-read articles, outlets, and topics over the week for your brand and – for Memo customers who also track competitor readership – a competitive share of voice.

We report out SOV differently and, if we can be so bold, far more accurately. Instead of just looking at share of coverage, we also report share of readership, revealing the competitors that are generating meaningful engagement with their earned media, and through what stories. These weekly reports let Comms teams quickly see if a competitor’s SOV has reached a threshold that warrants further investigation. 

And because weekly reports include competitors’ top-read press, subscribers can see what conversations are working for the competition and quickly devise a plan to participate before public interest moves on. 

#4: Plan for the future with PR results reported in monthly Readership Emails 

Monthly Readership Emails have all of the readership breakdowns included in weekly reports, but over the course of a whole month. Monthly reports give Comms teams an opportunity to step back and answer critical questions as they look to future campaigns. What outlets performed well for my brand that I should continue pitching? What outlets drove high readership for competitors that I should bump up to my priority list? What headlines and topics got the highest readership, and can I incorporate those angles into future campaigns? (All questions that would be impossible to answer with impressions, clip counts, or social listening alone.)

#5: Tie business outcomes to earned media performance with monthly Readership Emails

Monthly reports also provide an opportunity for Comms groups to pull out the performance metrics that marketing, analytics, and finance stakeholders would also want to incorporate into their own business analyses for the month. For example, providing the readership on reviews of a newly launched product to your Marketing team lets them incorporate apples-to-apples data from PR into their marketing mix model. 

When one article gets 10,000 readers and another 1,000,000, it’s not enough to rely on clip counts alone. Readership Emails from Memo are fast becoming an essential part of the Comms tech stack – and they’re now available to all Memo customers.

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.)