How do you answer when people ask you what you do? Do you have an elevator pitch? Do you feel as if you can accurately communicate the significance of your work?
When I was a TV anchor and reporter, there was no need to explain what I did. People already knew—or assumed they knew—what my day entailed. Since I’ve made the switch to public relations, I’ve found it a lot harder to explain my career and its impact.
This has to do in part to the difficulty of actually measuring PR’s value. The profession takes a lot of effort and requires tremendous patience to see a payoff. And most likely, that payoff doesn’t appear in black and white but in shades of grey. There isn’t an easy way to draw a line between a story that ran and the number of increased book sales, for example.
Still, there are some ways to get an idea of the value of your earned media. Here are some methods:
Use Online Tools: Create alerts for yourself, your business or book, and specific keywords in search engines like Google or Yahoo! for free. This will allow you to monitor what people are saying about you and where. It’s also wise to create keywords about your competitors and industry to track what’s going on in your business space. One drawback to using search engines, however, is that they don’t capture broadcast coverage unless the video and script are posted online.
Sign up for a Clipping Service: Clipping services like Cision or Critical Mention scan thousands of media outlets and deliver reports that capture all types of coverage, including broadcast and social media. Some will even report on the tone of the coverage. (If you have been a PR client with Weaving Influence, then you’ve likely seen an example of these reports following a press release distribution.) They’re fast and efficient, but — a word of warning — they include everything; so if someone has the same name as you do, you’ll get their news too.
Run an Advertising Value Equivalency: Now that you have an idea of who covered you and how, you can run something called an “advertising value equivalency” (AVE). AVE assesses the value of an article by weighing it against the cost of related advertising space. The dollar figure is based on the publication’s rate card. For example, a large front-page ad is generally more expensive than a small mid-publication ad. However, this method isn’t perfect for a number of reasons. First, it fails to recognize the tone of the news. Second, it’s only really useful for traditional media. It fails to recognize the power of influencers —those all-important, well-connected content creators who carry great clout amongst niche audiences (like Team Buzz Builder).
Unlike being an on-camera reporter, PR professionals work behind-the-scenes to create results. Their subtle art can’t be measured by quantitative data alone. But by keeping track of who is talking about you and how, you’ll have a better idea of PR’s influence on your brand and business.
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