Several Getting Attention e-update readers had questions in response to this recent article: 11 Steps to Media Relations Success. This one was asked by several nonprofit communicators:
Q: What are typical objectives/measurable outcomes for media relations work?
That's the sticking point for us – with such little staff time and budget for our PR efforts, we want to be smart and targeted with what we do. But we find that we often don't hear back from the releases we send out, and don't have much time to do follow-up phone calls, etc. So how can we measure our success?
–Kate Lucas, Grants & Communications Coordinator, Common Hope
A: Here are key outputs to track. They'll enable you to stay the course, if all's well, or correct if you're not getting anywhere.
Track these outputs: Articles placed, links added, online mentions of your organization, number of requests for public appearances, incoming press calls, etc. For example, two articles or one letter to the editor a month, three incoming press calls or 10% increase in daily unique visitors to your website generated by links on other sites. As always, look for trending (steady increases) rather than absolute numbers.
In addition, Kate, tracking coverage helps your organization assess who is talking about you and how you can best respond proactively (before it’s a crisis, enabling you to keep the focus on your messages) rather than reacting in panic. In addition, it helps you gauge the ROI (return on investment) of your media relations work.
I suggest you create a media log to record media relations activities and results. It will assist you in evaluating the contacts/relationships you have with specific media outlets and reporters, and help you identify concerns with particular outlets/reporters so that you can address them (e.g. always misquoted, description of organization incorrect, inappropriate language to explain issue, etc.)
Remember that outcomes (changes in action, awareness, understanding, attitude and/or behavior)of your media relations work are what's ultimately important Of course, these changes (other than action, e.g. driving folks to sign an online petition) are very difficult to measure.
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