Measuring Media’s Value a Tough Task

The world of print media is dead — or so we have all heard — during the last several years. For those in public relations, this also means finding alternatives to media clipping and, ultimately, media value as a form of evaluation.

Todd Murphy, vice president of Universal Information Services, argues that print media clippings are not a thing of the past because every broadcast segment, online article, tweet and post are directly created because of the publication of articles in a traditional newspaper. (

The belief that everything stems from the publication of news in newspapers seems a little far-fetched. In the fast-paced news cycle of today, material on the front page in the morning is often irrelevant or outdated by the end of the work day. With this in mind, online media are some of the best anchors for the creation of every broadcast segment, online article, tweet and post. Although this still does not answer the real question. What does all of this mean in terms of measuring media value?

Despite the various methods of tracking viewership and engagement across social media, no reasonable method of calculating the true value of a segment on a morning newscast exists, for example. In the grand scheme, these numbers may be nothing more than hypotheticals that can determine an entire department’s worth to an organization.

Like many, I have the news on while getting ready for the day. According to the broadcast station’s tracking system, I am engaged. No, I am not. I’m too busy making my lunch, deciding on an outfit and a million other things to watch the broadcast from start to finish. Yet, I have been included in this magical formula that determines the effectiveness an organization’s public relations/marketing department in securing a segment in the morning news broadcast. This seems a skewed.

Do you think media value remains an effective form of evaluation? What other methods constitute a more effective alternative?

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2 Responses to Measuring Media’s Value a Tough Task

  1. Lauren Thompson says:

    I don’t think media value calculations are the best way to demonstrate our value. As you mentioned, circulation numbers and broadcast viewership numbers don’t always translate to engaged viewers.

    In my experience, I’ve used ad rates to calculate media value. But I think the viewers and readers who actually are engaged will care more about the news they are reading/watching than they will about the ads they’re viewing. So for those consumers who do engage with our media placements, the advertising cost fails to account for their increased attention.

    Using this method, not accounting for people’s level of engagement presents two major flaws: we’re over-calculating for people who aren’t actually paying attention to the news in front of them (as you mentioned), and we’re under-calculating for the people who are paying closer attention.

    Some may argue that this makes our calculations level out, but I don’t necessarily agree. By over-calculating and under-calculating, we’re still not giving our client an accurate picture of the publics we’re resonating with through the media. We need to know how many people see the message, but we also need to know who cares about the message they’re seeing. Using that information, we can adjust our messaging accordingly to reach the best audience for our client. And current media value calculations don’t give us the information we need to do that.

    I think you alluded to one great solution to this problem in your post: social media is one way we have moved toward measuring engagement over value equivalency. We can see not only who follows our clients, but also who cares about them enough to favorite, like, share, and talk about them with their friends and family.

    As an industry, I think we need to encourage this kind of measurement on our media placements, as well. We should look at who is talking about our client’s news, who is sharing it with their networks, and what people have to say about it. This way, we can learn more about the people who actually care and pay attention to our client’s news – not just the people who see the news in passing. Social media is one established way for us to do this, but I think it we could do it to an even greater effect by looking at outlets’ comment sections and social media metrics.

  2. Mariah Hurst says:

    I think traditional methods of evaluation are only semi-effective today. Most people are constantly transitioning from their lap top to smart phone to TV to iPad to Apple Watch, never really settling on one form of media.
    So, for example, just measuring “clicks” or the amount of time spent on a webpage might not accurately indicate the reader/viewer’s engagement in the content. They could have switched to another tab and read that article instead, or responded to a text before re-engaging in the webpage content. A good metric may be mouse activity. If the person is scrolling, moving the mouse around, etc., THEN you know they are engaged in something on that webpage.
    As soon-to-be graduated PR students, we have a lot to contribute to the changing world of media and how we evaluate the effectiveness of our campaigns.

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