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How To Calculate Earned Media Value?

December 15, 2023

Terry Stanton PR Manager

Written by
Terry Stanton

Digital publication earned media

Generating earned media is a cornerstone in any public relations strategy. Securing positive earned media mentions in articles, social shares, or appearances are valuable for increased visibility. In fact, they can be viewed as implied third-party endorsements that enhance any brand’s reputation.

But how can you calculate the value of your earned media hits and gauge your PR campaign’s impact on your bottom line? We’ll look at media analytics and how to prove your earned media strategy’s impact on your bottom line.

What Is Earned Media?

Let’s begin by exploring what earned media is. It’s the publicity that you or your brand receive that you don’t generate yourself or obtain through ad buys or paid placements.

Here are some examples of earned media coverage:

  • An interview in a reputable traditional or digital publication
  • Comments in a reputable traditional or digital publication
  • A video interview or appearance on a broadcast or streaming platform
  • Positive ratings or reviews on third-party websites
  • Industry recognition or awards
  • Social media mentions, shares, or engagement

In short, earned media not only increases your exposure, it can also boost word of mouth about your brand, increase trust, and potentially lead to new sales or clients. You can achieve several of these goals with paid advertising or placements as well, but earned media delivers a trust factor that no amount of paid advertising can buy.

What Is Earned Media Value?

Earned Media Value (EMV) is a way to measure the impact and value, or ROI, of media mentions by a third party. It’s important in order to determine the success of earned media campaigns and to put an actual dollar value on them. However, it’s hard to measure EMV accurately and there is no one agreed-upon method of doing so.

This makes it difficult to calculate and offer actionable information about your PR campaign and strategy. That said, there are common metrics used in the PR industry that can be considered when measuring the results of your earned media strategy and campaign.

How Do You Measure Earned Media Value?

Partnering with a PR agency can give you access to data that can help determine the earned media value of your press hits. Here are common metrics used in the industry to help calculate EMV.

Impressions: An impression is a calculation of the number of people who laid eyes on an earned media placement that features you or your company. For example, if you were mentioned in a publication that had a readership of 1 million, that placement would count as 1 million impressions.

Of course, just because a reader subscribes to a publication doesn’t mean they read the article featuring you or your comments. Therefore, engagement is another important factor in calculating earned media value. Was your article shared or did a reader or viewer make a comment about the placement?

Share of Voice: Share of voice is a metric that indicates the percent visibility of your brand compared to your competitors. When you dig into the results, it can show you the influencers or experts who are part of a discussion about any topic. For example, if your topic of expertise is workplace culture, this metric can reveal the top experts being quoted on that topic.

This is valuable because you can compare your messages with your competitors in that space, see where you stand compared to them, and create an earned media campaign that can help propel your voice and increase your visibility.

Engagement: This metric reveals how the audience received and responded to your content. Social shares, reactions to your comments, and other types of outreach by the audience are examples of engagement.

These numbers reveal that sometimes it’s more valuable to target influencers and outlets with lower impression numbers as long as they have higher engagement metrics. When that happens, it means that your message is hitting the right audience and has a greater chance of conversion at some point.

Sentiment: Not all media mentions are good media mentions. A bad review can have a negative impact on the overall perception of your brand. Media monitoring will analyze media mentions, categorize them into three buckets of positive, neutral, and negative, which can ensure that you catch bad sentiment early and work to head it off.

Critical Message: Are your media hits focusing on the right topic? Analyzing the contents of your placements can help determine if your earned media strategy is targeting your key messages.

How To Maximize Earned Media Value

The goal of any PR campaign is to attain the most amount of positive visibility in the shortest period. Of course, public relations is not a short-term proposition and it can take years to develop a mature message that supports your desired outcomes. However, there are ways to maximize the value of each media placement.

Here are some tactics to derive the most value from earned media placements:

  • Target high-reach outlets. Placements in national newspapers, popular websites, and prime time or daytime broadcasts will naturally have higher value.
  • But don’t discount smaller or niche publications. Your aim is to connect with audiences that can eventually become your clients or consumers. Comments published in key industry-related trade or regional publications can be highly targeted, and each placement is a valuable addition to your earned media resume. Remember, reporters research you and your previous placements before they ask for comments from you, especially if they represent high-profile publications.
  • Secure backlinks. Placements in publications that link back to your website can boost your SEO ranking, making you and your brand more visible. (Just keep in mind that not all publications will provide backlinks to your website or LinkedIn profile.)
  • Promote and expand. Share your earned media placements across all your social media channels. Tag the reporter who wrote the article and the publication as a professional courtesy and to help establish a longer-term relationship. Also tag relevant keywords in order to attract different audiences.

Does Earned Media Impact Sales?

Earned media placements result in greater visibility, more exposure and enhanced reputation, but can this type of public relations help drive revenue to your business?

The answer is maybe. Media mentions increase awareness and credibility, both of which can eventually drive revenue. And the reputation bump goes a long way toward building trust among stakeholders and potential customers.

Here’s how earned media placement can influence the buyer’s journey in several ways:

  • Backlinks can drive traffic to your website through links and social shares, which increases visibility and offers consumers the chance to purchase
  • Media mentions increase awareness of your brand and help get you or your brand on a potential buyer’s radar
  • Positive mentions and expert comments that you provide to publications can shape the consumer’s perception of your brand and trustworthy, and you as an expert

This means that while the earned media mention may not lead immediately to a new client or customer, it can influence the buyer by generating awareness, building trust, and driving engagement.

How To Step Up Your Earned Media Game

Here are some ways to increase earned media coverage and secure placements that can affect the value of your Public Relations campaign:

  • Prioritize focused pitching of relevant topics to reputable media outlets
  • Accept opportunities from lower tier, but reputable, publications in order to build your media resume and increase your online presence
  • Understand that PR is a long game, and results are the work of consistent, high-quality pitching and engagement with journalists
  • Promote and repurpose successful placements
  • Write evergreen content that has a long shelf-life
  • Offer high-quality original content to publications looking for free content

Monitor and Assess Your Earned Media Strategy

Finally, in order to calculate the earned media value of your PR strategy, you have to monitor the efforts and outcomes. Monitor the results of your campaign and meet regularly with your PR team to assess actions and outcomes. Discover what tactics seem to work and determine if you need to switch up your strategy.

Here are just a few ways you can assess and rework your PR strategy to increase your earned media value:

  • Look at your budget. Are you providing enough support to deliver tangible results?
  • Build a focused plan with a strategy that is aligned with a common purpose and message across all platforms
  • Use analytics to take a thorough analysis into your campaign to determine the topics that resonate with your audience

Investing in a strategic PR campaign focusing on earned media outreach is a proven way to build your brand’s online visibility and reputation. Calculating the value of earned media can be difficult and highly subjective.

Earned media value based on impressions and reach is a common method of determining success. However, the most important metric to consider is how your business is impacted by your PR campaign.

If it results in positive coverage that enhances lead generation and revenue growth over time, then you can count your campaign a success. Keep in mind that brands are most successful when paid, owned, shared and earned media work together to influence potential customers.

Terry Stanton PR Manager

Terry Stanton

PR Campaign Manager

For Terry, it’s all about the message, and with an award-winning career that includes broadcasting, video production, digital marketing, and public relations, that’s not surprising. She began as a TV anchor and reporter, then moved into corpor...

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