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Evaluating the media: Media Evaluation Techniques (Part 1)

PR geekiness - the tools & techniques to gain insights from PR exposure

Monday, June 23, 2014

Media Evaluation Techniques (Part 1)

Although everyone has a different way of doing an evaluation of a project or periods media exposure, there are certain common processes worth highlighting. From a strategic perspective the starting point has to be the objectives. on the other hand, if you are more interested in evaluation techniques, getting the media clips seem like the logical beginning point. 

While there is much to be said about PR and campaign objectives at the strategic level, this mini-guide concentrates on the execution techniques. More often than not these media clips are electronically circulated press and internet cuttings from the various specialist monitoring outfits like Gorkana or Kantar. Personally I can't speak for the latter in any detail but for the former there is also the option to create an Excel media list, which we'll talk about in a bit.

Having worked with these sources for a number of years it is my experience of the UK media that most of the coverage found tends to be either printed or online coverage. It may be a symptom of my clients interests or the keywords checked but there is seldom coverage from broadcast sources.

These Excel media lists can be filtered to only the coverage for a set period; helpful if doing monthly evaluation reports. Often these listings will also have an indication of circulation or audiences (and the dreaded AVE figures!). Unless my own  master media listing file is missing a title I tend to ignore these figures. Once this Excel listing has been formated I Paste Append into the clients MS Access file.

This is when to find out how well the listing has been formatted. All the Excel columns have to match up with the Access file. Also this will draw on a separate master media data file, and so the media titles have to match. This is often a problem as my master media titles do not start with 'The', instead leaving it at the end. For example 'Daily Telegraph, The' is our chosen format but the cuttings agencies don't always do it that way.   Once the data has been added I run a query to highlight those media titles it can't find.

After 'cleaning' the entries the next stage is to work through the cuttings, sampling them for the relevant tracked fields. It is always a good idea to sample for as many fields as you might think could be relevant. This often goes beyond the brief, but you never know what might be of interest or where coverage might take you. 

Core requirements tend to be things like favourability towards the brand and presence of key messages. Then there are additional things like the tracking of subject or product/service areas, corporate/brand descriptors, pro-activity, scale of cutting. Below is an example of a form with fields (excluding messages).

That is the first part of a two-parter. In the next section we will take a look at some techniques on how to interrogate the data, filtering, sorting and sampling. Then there is report writing, mixing graphs and tables with narrative and choosing formats, all to address the original objectives.

If you have thoughts on this or additions it would be great to hear from you.

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