30 May 2019 laia

NOT another AVE discussion

6 measurement criteria that should reflect in today’s PR reports

Quantity will never make-up for quality, and if you are still measuring your return on investment based on AVE, you might want to read on. The most impressive context I received around this concept came from the very smart Katie Delahaye Paine “AVEs are based on the notion that the goals for advertising and the goals for PR are the same – getting more “eyeballs” – most PR programs have different goals and therefore require different metrics”. Read her full article here – it’s really useful!

 AVE’s look at earned coverage quantifiably – and whilst that’s sufficient to see what you would have paid for the coverage you earned, you won’t have the insights to inform your next move. And you’re only as good as your next move.

So what criteria should you be measuring?

So how do these criteria translate into bottom-line value?

  1. Reach and Audience
    When analysing coverage, we look at a platform and how relevant it is to our client’s business. For instance – Channelwise is a really important B2B publication for a client like LG, not so much for likes of a Nando’s. Segmenting media platforms according to relevance and reach allows you to see if you are impacting the most important channels to your business. I’d suggest you tier your media channels into two tiers; Tier 1 publications reach your primary target audience, whilst Tier 2 publications drive your message to a secondary audience where growth potential lies.

  2. Message inclusion and resonance
    One of the first things you identify as a business is a framework of messages. These messages are used in serval formats and with time, these messages are remembered and internalised to form part of a consumer’s frame of reference. How many key messages are included in a piece of coverage and can you identify a messaging trend over time? Referencing your key messages to ensure they are included at all touch points is important for strategic brand growth.

  3. Types of mentions
    There are many types of mentions and not all mentions are equal. A journalist may briefly mention your client in a news story or heavily feature your client in a specific feature. Obviously, a feature is worth much more than a general mention, but when looking at types of mentions, it’s important to note whether competitors have been positioned in the article as well. AVE might tell you an interview is worth R100 000 to the business, what it doesn’t tell you is that your competitor was strongly positioned in the same interview which dilutes the PR value to your business.

  4. Prominence
    Is your client/brand mentioned in the headline or lead paragraph? The position of where a brand and it’s messaging is positioned is vital. If you earn a mention at the start of an article as opposed to landing your message at the end – you remain more prominent in the consumer’s mind. Headlines, sub-headings and really smart messaging help journalist position brands more prominently.

  5. Sentiment
    Sentiment can be tracked by machines – but machines don’t understand the context, and our job as PR practitioners is to provide clients with context. A client may be mentioned alongside the words “attack” – a machine will attach a negative sentiment to the article when in reality the work attack was used to add emphasis to an article “NBA Africa attack sports development with gusto”. Sentiment also informs strategy. If a brand has suffered reputation damage, monitoring sentiment during the recovery period allows you to evaluate the efficacy of the strategy or adjust it.

  6. Share of Voice
    If you invest significant time into monitoring a brand, competitor analysis is essential. Most sectors can identify the top 5 players; those players each hold a portion of the market share in the news cycle. Ideally, you want the most share of voice, but if you don’t have that yet, monitoring competitors can give you insights around what content works, which sponsorships are driving coverage, how they capitalise on the current news cycle, and platforms of influence you could be targeting. 

MSL uses an Impact Algorithm. As the name suggests, Algorithm takes each of these criteria into consideration, and attaches a score to different levels of impact within each category. Earned coverage is scored, and insights are provided for the communications team to adjust or maintain the strategic direction.

If you would like to learn more about MSL’s best-practice approach to measurement and evaluation, please contact us at

Roxanne Smith

Head of Consumer PR

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Roxanne Smith Head of Consumer PR

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