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.

Unmasking Meta’s Bad News Strategy

Comms pros often agonize over what day to release news. Whether it’s good or bad, the day news is announced can significantly impact coverage and readership, especially if there are other global events happening on the same day. Do big companies share negative news on Fridays? Do they share good news at the beginning of the week? We analyzed nearly 6,300 articles about Meta – a company that has had its fair share of negative press in the past year – to understand their bad news strategy and the impact it has on readership.

Meta’s shifting bad news strategy

Most of the time, bad news isn’t within the control of the person, people, or thing(s) it’s about. Meta is no different. In early 2022, readership on negative Meta press peaked on articles published on Fridays, mostly news out of the social media giant’s control. In the second half of 2022, the highest readership came from negative stories published in the middle of the week. So why the shift? We took a deeper look at what macro trends may be influencing decision-making.

It turns out that some of the negative news coming out of Meta in the second half of 2022 aligned with planned global news events or holidays.

  • News that Sheryl Sandberg was stepping down was announced on June 1st, the same date of the much anticipated Johnny Depp vs Amber Heard trial verdict was scheduled.
  • Zuckerberg told employees they’ll be turning up the heat on performance reviews and slowing hiring on July 1st, right before the 4th of July holiday weekend.
  • Meta announced plans to make staffing cuts on September 21st, just days after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral service broadcast across the globe and the associated news cycle. 
  • Meta then also announced layoffs on November 9th, in the middle of the U.S. midterm election cycle.
Readership of negative Meta news compared to global events

Is Meta’s bad news strategy working?

A third of Meta’s highest readership spikes over the past year came from negative news coming towards the end of the week, whether it was news within their control or not. So releasing bad news on a Friday isn’t a strategy that works in their favor. While it sometimes produces fewer news articles, the articles that do publish attract more readers.

Announcing negative news during global events is presumably to reduce pickup or decrease attention. Makes sense. The world is distracted. Here’s the thing–readership actually increased. Readership of Meta’s layoff news spiked at nearly 5 million in the midst of the U.S. midterm elections, roughly five times the readership of negative news announced earlier in the year. Given the nature of the announcements, it’s likely that readership was always going to be higher compared to press earlier in the year, but five times is a lot.

Is any day of the week good for bad news?

Negative readership outweighs positive readership early in the week (Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday), while the opposite is true later in the week (Thursday, Friday, & Saturday). 

Overall, Meta’s negative news readership was highest on Wednesday and lowest on Saturday and Sunday, when coverage volume was also low. Wednesdays generated the highest average readership in 2022, while average readership was lowest on Thursdays, followed by Mondays and Tuesdays. 

Negative Meta news readership compared to volume of coverage

Volume of coverage certainly does not indicate readership. Ideally, if a brand is announcing negative news they would want to target the day that produces the lowest readership numbers. That means sharing good news on Wednesdays and bad news on Thursdays.

What can we learn from Meta?

It’s impossible to say that if Meta announced layoffs outside of the U.S. midterm elections it would have attracted fewer readers. That said, readership spikes during those expected global news days indicate that targeting those days doesn’t entirely work. It could impact the volume of coverage around negative news. Readership however still surged, which means that attention on the news didn’t see the impact that Meta may have intended.

Readership trends give you more context and insights than volume trends do when it comes to media coverage. Announcing bad news on big news days may not create the outcome intended. At least it didn’t for Meta (from what we can tell). Who’s going to tell them?

The value of content syndication for business news

How should content syndication fit into my media strategy? Does getting re-published on websites like Yahoo! and MSN meaningfully amplify content? Do people even read these aggregator sites? 

Questions once met with guesses or speculation can now get answers with hard data. Our team analyzed readership (i.e. unique visitors) on 341 articles re-published on MSN and Yahoo! that covered business and executive news – topics that would typically fall into the corporate comms bucket – over a 30 day period.

So, what’s the value of an aggregator site? 

To start, article readership is +41.8% higher on these aggregator sites compared to the originally published articles in our sample. This means that in total, content received 141.8% more readers than had it not been syndicated.

Some of our key findings and what they mean for comms teams are summarized below, and the full report is available for download here.

Takeaway #1: Don’t discount syndications in your PR measurement and reporting 

Right off the bat, we find that many, but not all, articles re-published on Yahoo! and MSN get more readership on those sites than they received on the original publications. This means that while MSN might not be a priority outlet from a media relations standpoint, for example, it should be on every comms team’s radar for measurement purposes.

This trend is not universal, and more nuance begins to emerge when we break down syndicated-content readership by the original publications as well as other attributes.

Takeaway #2: Targeting Bloomberg and Business Insider can both reach a more narrow business audience and generate mass awareness with syndication

Among the 68 publications with content re-published to either Yahoo! or MSN over this 30-day period, Bloomberg and Business Insider are the two top-tier business outlets that benefited the most from syndication amplification.

On average, Bloomberg articles syndicated to MSN and Yahoo! received an average of 339% more readers than they did on the original source. Similarly, Business Insider articles received an average of 233% more readers. 

This means that comms teams don’t necessarily need to trade off between getting in front of the higher-value business audiences that subscribe to Business Insider and Bloomberg and building mass awareness on news aggregation sites. 

Takeaway #3: Don’t disqualify reporters from a pitch just because they’re behind a paywall; syndication can increase their readership 

Aggregator sites like MSN and Yahoo! make articles accessible to more people by eliminating the paywall barrier, driving higher readership. Syndicated articles from paywall publications saw 2x the readership on average compared to the original articles. 

As part of any reporter mapping exercise, understanding which paywalled reporters get syndicated to highly-trafficked, non-pawalled sites can surface opportunities to reach niche and mass audiences in tandem.

To see the full analysis, including deep dives into commonly syndicated publications, download the full report here

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:

ESG communications: insights & lessons from PRDecoded 2022

The buzz around ESG communications is getting louder. 

In the past few weeks alone, Axios published two newsletters focused on the complicated exercise communicators have in building consumer awareness of what “ESG” means, let alone what their companies are doing about it. A CNBC survey revealed the tension between companies’ public declarations of ESG support and their internal philosophy on ESG management. And PRWeek held its annual purpose-focused conference for communicators, PRDecoded.  

CCOs and leaders in sustainability, CSR, and DE&I convened for two days last week to discuss how brands can better craft and promote a narrative about their purpose. Members of Memo’s Insights Team joined to share new readership trends around environmental and climate issues. 

Here are our takeaways from the event + the team’s own findings on ESG-related readership trends.

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

Research summary: readership trends on environmental news 

Memo’s Insights team was on site at PRDecoded to share an abridged report that analyzed readership (unique visitors to an article) on thousands of articles about environmental issues published in Q3 2022. Here are three of the trends and opportunities they identified:

Trend #1: Wired and Vox are under-the-radar outlets for ESG themes

Perhaps unsurprisingly, large national newspapers were the top-read outlets on environmental news over this time. 

But outlets that appeal to socially-minded readers, such as Wired and Vox, see high average readership. They publish fewer articles on the topic, but the articles they do publish get higher traffic than articles on sites with higher UVMs. (These are what we call  “hidden gem” publications, and identifying them for an industry or theme can help Comms teams prioritize media relations.)

Trend #2: Deforestation is trending in news readership. 

Both the most-covered and most-read subtopic over this was “climate action” – news about climate change, carbon footprints, emissions goals, etc. 

Among the other subtopics, “sustainability” was covered more, but  “deforestation” had higher readership. Following the Covid-19 pandemic and recent monkeypox outbreaks, there’s increased awareness of and interest in the impact of deforestation on pathogen transmission. For companies addressing deforestation specifically, now is a great time to grow awareness of these initiatives. 

Trend #3: Earned media helps brands protect their reputations as ESG-minded companies

In addition to publications and subtopics, we also analyzed readership on the brands featured in environmental news. One retailer, for example, received negative coverage about its carbon footprint, but this was outweighed by readership on positive coverage on its efforts to reduce packaging waste. (This context is why Memo customers monitor readership on crisis news cycles in addition to proactive campaigns.)

PRDecoded summary: the biggest takeaways on communicating purpose

Speakers at PRWeek’s annual purpose-focused conference addressed topics ranging from climate action to diversity to building trust. Here were some common threads:

Takeaway #1: Authenticity is table stakes for successful ESG communications

Authenticity in intent first, message second was a recurring theme among speakers, including McDonald’s Sr. Director of Global Brand Communications Molly McKenna, who advised against latching onto passing fads where brands can’t play a meaningful role.

Leaders from BCW similarly warned against “purpose washing,” or expressing public support for a cause without the underlying action to back it up. (Speaking of, shout out to PRWeek for partnering with GENYOUth to sponsor a breakfast cart that will serve nearly 100,000 meals annually to Chicago students.) 

Such authenticity is essential if brands want to build and maintain trust at a time when misinformation is so pervasive. “Actions speak louder than words,” noted Mars VP of Corporate Affairs Kristen Campos.

Takeaway #2: Employees are a key stakeholder – and not just for internal comms 

Executives from UPS set the tone when they kicked off the conference sharing their communications team’s approach to crafting its public-facing purpose statement: they surveyed employees internally to see what excites them about UPS. (The result: “Moving our world forward by delivering what matters.”) 

When it comes to communicating purpose, Artealia Gilliard, Ford’s Sr. Manager of Environmental Leadership and Sustainability Communications, noted that the auto company starts with its employees first to build advocacy from the inside out.

At a time when internal comms can quickly become external comms, organizations are rethinking strategies for listening to employee feedback, responding to demands to address current events such as racial justice and gun control, and mitigating against internal issues playing out in the public sphere. A major theme of the internal-communications focused panel “Empowering Employees” was the function’s increased collaboration – if not outright merging – with external communications groups.

Takeaway #3: Purpose is the vision, communicating it is an art, and data is a guide

Whether it’s using surveys to get a pulse check on how its purpose is connecting with its employees (Allstate), or social listening to understand what followers care about (McDonald’s), communications teams are leaning on data for guidance in crafting and refining purpose messaging.

This is not to say that data defines a brand’s purpose. Rather, data helps inform whether messages are resonating with stakeholders at different places in the customer/employee journey, as noted on a panel between Edelman advisors and Tupperware VP of Global Communications & PR Cameron Klaus. 

Of course, not everything can be captured in numbers. As Walgreens CCO Aaron Radelet put it, when it comes to communicating purpose, it’s about how people feel about you, not what they know about you.”

Our team’s two cents: measurement on ESG communications is still in its nascency. While there are numerous tools that can mine data from owned channels, social followers, and publicly available search trends, they’re missing a key piece of the puzzle. Purpose is more than a message – two days of programming made that clear. It’s the actions brands take that build toward a vision, actions that get dissected every day in the press. 

Earned media is a major conduit for a brand’s narrative, and it’s finally measurable. We work with Comms teams on the forefront of analyzing earned readership data to understand, build, and protect their narratives. It’s been encouraging over the past couple of years to see the growth in ESG communications measurement specifically, a reflection we hope of more purposeful business.

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

3 graphs that illustrate the problem with PR impressions

“We know impressions are inaccurate, but at least they’re directionally correct.”
“We know impressions are inaccurate, but we divide them to be more realistic.”
“We know impressions are inaccurate, but no one is forcing us to change.”

“We know impressions are inaccurate, but.” It’s a common and persistent refrain in the PR industry. Years of having no alternative metrics created a status quo of measuring the potential, rather than the actual.

Unfortunately, impressions are not directionally correct at the article level: highly-trafficked outlets don’t always get higher article readership (i.e. unique visitors to an article page) than lower-traffic outlets. And dividing monthly impressions by 7 or 30 days is not a realistic assessment of how content performs: on the same day in the same publication, one article can get one million readers, another one thousand. 

You might say Memo has a refrain of its own: “Impressions are not just inaccurate, they’re misleading.” We’ve published data that shows how impressions distort share of voice and how impressions overlook important outlets. But mechanically, why is this?

Our team analyzes readership data every day. We want to illustrate exactly why impressions obscure the insights that are so glaringly obvious with readership. 

Actual readership among a publication’s articles is highly variable

We pulled an entire month’s worth of content published on an outlet that receives roughly 30 million unique monthly visitors. Each box represents an article, and the size of the box represents that article’s readership, i.e. the number of unique visitors to the article in the first 7 days of publication.

Each of the approximately 800 boxes is a single article published in August 2022 on the same publication. The size of each box represents that article’s readership.

The most-read article that month received over 2000x more visitors than the least-read article. 

There is brand coverage that completely hit it out of the park, and there is coverage that could benefit from further amplification. 

There are article topics that tend to fall on the upper left corner of that graph, and topics that tend to fall on the lower right corner.

There are takedown pieces that blew up, and takedowns that barely made a splash.

Article-level readership provides a wealth of information about earned media performance and strategy. So what about impressions?

Impressions (wrongly) report that every article performs the same

We can visualize the same ~800 articles with potential impressions instead of actual readership. This is what we see:

Each of the approximately 800 boxes is a single article published in August 2022 on the same publication. The size of each box represents that article’s potential reach (aka impressions or UVMs).

Did we get a lot of eyeballs on our product press? Does this outlet get high readership on our industry’s news? Is this negative story worth a spokesperson response? Potential reach doesn’t help us answer any of these questions, but readership does.

It’s the difference between a clippings report where every article has the same performance metric (left) versus a readership report where you know exactly how many people saw the coverage (right):

Sure, the report that tallies up to 225,000,000 potential impressions looks impressive. But with 258 million adults in the US, business leaders know it’s a bogus figure.

Lower UVM publications can get more article readership than higher UVM publications

The monthly unique visitors on a site can be a helpful proxy for publisher authority when, for example, trying to understand the landscape or build an initial media list. But impressions are a horrible proxy for article performance, even across different publications. 

Everyday we see outlets with relatively low monthly visitors publish articles that receive higher readership than content on relatively high-traffic outlets. (A Memo report further examines this trend.)

In fact, one of the first things new Memo users say is “I can’t believe how many people read our placement on [insert niche outlet].” 

To illustrate, here is the same publication visualized above next to a second publication with approximately 75 million UVMs:

Each of the approximately 800 blue boxes is an article published in August 2022 on a publication with 30 million UVMs. Each of the approximately 1,300 purple boxes is an article on a publication with 75 million UVMs. The size of each box represents that article’s readership.

The higher-UVM outlet published the most-read articles among the two publications. But there are hundreds of articles on the lower-UVM outlet that received more readership than content on the higher-UVM outlet. 

We’ve now illustrated that impressions are 1) not directionally correct, and 2) not a realistic assessment of article performance, no matter how you slice them. 

Still, if no one is forcing the issue, why change?

Comms has become more entwined with marketing and business strategy. Its measurement will be too.

One of the biggest PR measurement trends that emerged this year was that Communications teams are working more closely with Marketing and other business functions. With this seat at the table, however, comes expectations of more rigorous measurement. 

Our team has worked with some of the earliest adopters of readership data. The Comms groups that embraced this change a year or two ago are already operating at a different level. They’re more strategic with media relations. They’re better equipped to handle crisis stories. They’re giving earned media its due credit in the broader marketing mix. 

No longer misled by the false impression (pardon our pun) that content performs uniformly on a publication, they’re making better business decisions.

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.