TOP Talk

The Must-Haves for a Modern Earned Measurement Program


Colorful earned media measurement on screen


You’ve perfected your pitches and media outreach strategies and landed incredible earned media placements. Now what?

Buttoned-up earned media programs use effective measurement to showcase the full value of the coverage secured. This step is essential to assess the full impact of that hard-won coverage and communicate that clearly back to the C-suite. That’s good for your client or company and the success of your program — a clear win-win.

While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for earned media measurement, a few common traits run through all successful modern measurement programs. Regardless of industry, focus, or scale, the most effective measurement programs stick to these best practices:

Keep It the Right Size

Just like shoes that are just a bit too big or too small, a media measurement program that isn’t suited to your needs will make everyone uncomfortable. Measurement is important, but so are all the other tasks needed to keep getting the great earned media placement you’re measuring in the first place. A good rule of thumb is to allocate 5% of a PR program (and budget) to regular reporting. 

Setting realistic parameters and finding the right tools can help small teams be larger than life by automating tasks that could otherwise take significantly more time and resources.

T1 Tip: Tool selection is another place to be mindful of right-sizing. The market is full of fantastic, enterprise-sized measurement tools, but if your team doesn’t have the time to glean all of those insights from the miracle media monitoring system, it may not be the right fit for your measurement program (at least not yet).

Establish Clear, Concise KPIs

Today, there’s a data point for every second of the day (give or take a million). Establishing the ones that mean the most is an important foundation for any earned media measurement program. The goals of your earned media program should serve as the guide for your key performance indicators. For example, if your aim is to build general corporate awareness, then you’ll likely be looking at more quantitative metrics and the reach of your earned media will be a critical KPI. 

However, if you’re recovering from bad press and working to specifically build goodwill with customers and consumers, you may look more closely at qualitative KPIs like sentiment analysis to track how positively (or negatively) your audience is reacting to your news. As your program evolves, your KPIs may change, but tying them back to your goals will always be essential.

Provide Straightforward (and Consistent) Reporting

All the earned media data in the world isn’t worth a thing if you can’t clearly communicate that impact to your clients or managers. Given the amount of jargon and marketing speak in the communications industry, it’s not hard to get lost in the numbers and terminology. Your reporting should be direct, digestible, and consistent.

As we mentioned above, you may need to add a new metric to the mix or swap out KPIs for a new campaign from time to time, but don’t go recreating the wheel (i.e. report) every time you send along a measurement report or you’ll be in for an eternal uphill battle.

Ultimately, the full value of an earned media measurement program isn’t what it shows about your brand’s past — it’s how those insights can help you improve your brand’s future. Make sure your reporting makes that leap. Include recommendations on how you can act on this data and what the next steps will be. From reach to impressions to sentiment and beyond, clearly communicating the whole story of earned media coverage with engaging visuals and storytelling is a critical final step.

In “The Complete Guide to Compelling Earned Media Measurement,” we’ve collected all our best practices, top tools, and critical KPIs to get your earned media measurement program off to a strong start. Reveal the true value of your earned media program and download your free copy here: 

The complete guide to earned media measurement - download now.

Kathy Wilson

About Kathy Wilson

Identifying and showcasing the unique and authentic elements of a company’s story – those “aha!” storylines that set a great company apart from the merely good ones. Then developing a strategy that leverages a variety of storytelling channels, whether it’s traditional media, social campaigns or visuals, to bring that company’s value proposition to life. 20+ year PR veteran.