Evaluation of media coverage has always been a problem. Credibility
was always at the mercy of the many different paradigms used to
calculate reach and quality until now.
After four years in development under the leadership of Tracey
Bochner, APR, Senior Vice President, APEX Public Relations, her
group of senior agency, industry and client side media relations
specialists has launched a new standard for measuring editorial
coverage and return on investment (ROI) called Media Relations Rating
Points (MR2P) in partnership with the Canadian
Public Relations Society (CPRS).
A marketing-PR industry poll conducted by the CPRS Measurement
Committee in 2005 revealed 96 per cent of respondents agreed there
was a need for a standard PR measurement. A solid 99 per cent of
respondents said that they would use a standardized MR2P system.
Our members tell us that one of the greatest challenges communications
practitioners face today is measuring editorial media coverage,
say Karen Dalton, APR, executive director of CPRS. Media Relations
Rating Points will allow us to use for the first time a consistent,
official system of measurement that can compare media relations
activities, as well as accurately calculate return on investment
to stakeholders. MR2P s will soon become as important in the PR
industry as GRP ratings are to the advertising sector.
The CPRS Measurement Committee, chaired by Bochner, also includes
representatives from Porter Novelli, NATIONAL Public Relations,
DDB Public Relations, Thornley Fallis, Strategic Objectives, Cara
Operations, and the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion. David
Jones of Thornley Fallis has led the development of a blog on MRP,
which can be found at www.prmeasurement.ca.
To understand how valuable this media relations measurement paradigm
is, look at how media relations evaluation has been conducted previously.
Generally, it starts with the audience numbers. Then a multiple
is applied to arrive at impressions. Traditionally, multiples for
print can range from two times to 10 times, depending on the evaluator.
For broadcast, if you called an outlet and asked different
people who work there on both the editorial and sales sides, you
would probably get different answers on the 'reach' because those
numbers depend on how that department reports the numbers which
could be total show reach, quarter-hour audience reach or even total
station reach, Bochner observes.
MRP provides consistency. The system uses standardized data on
print circulation to get total impressions, and provides BBM numbers
for broadcast, which are often inaccessible to PR firms unless they
have official advertising agency status or ad agency partners. The
cost for the data will be modest (and there is a discount for CPRS
members). The measurement template and user guide is free to anyone
to download at www.mrpdata.com.
All of the audience data, including Web site audience information,
will be provided by News Canada, which won the RFP. "We're
delighted to be working on this project and believe it is very important
to clients to have a common media relations measurement paradigm,"
says Ruth Douglas, President, News Canada. The online service will
be available in both English and French via www.mrpdata.com for
an annual fee of $725 for a single license with a 10 per cent discount
to CPRS members.
What MRP does not do is provide advertising equivalencies, and
rightfully so. That form of measurement has at least a few problems.
Firstly, editorial cannot be purchased and therefore cannot have
an advertising equivalency. As Bochner puts it: You simply
cannot buy media coverage! Secondly, editorial often has far
more third-party word of mouth generation power than does advertising.
Bochner adds that you can't buy space on the front page, above
the fold, so how would you measure that through ad equivalencies?
It doesn't make any sense.
In a nutshell, the MR2P system provides a score based on standardized
criteria that incorporate tone as well. The tone plus the ratings
generate an overall percentage score. In the tests we have
done to date with our clients, we consider 75% or above a good campaign,
notes Bochner. The system also works out a cost per contact (this
is where the standardized reach data becomes useful), so our
clients can demonstrate ROI to their stakeholders and evaluate a
program's success compared to other campaigns, says Bochner.
For more information on MR2P, go to www.cprs.ca or contact Tracey
Bochner, APR at email@example.com.
Mark LaVigne, APR, is an elected member of the Canadian Public
Relations Society (CPRS) National Board and is Past President CPRS
(Toronto). He runs a media relations and media coaching firm based
in Aurora, Ontario where he can be reached at (905) 841-2017 or