Media Analysis

A few days before the Super Bowl , the teams – Broncos and Panthers – will also compete in the field of social media.

Media Measurement wanted to assess which teams dominated on Facebook , Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.


superbowl social media


* Our method determines:

  • Advertising value equivalence based on the Broncos and  Panthers accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Positive or negative economic impact: the dollar value of social media based on analysis of a set of variables.

évaluation des relations publiques


Here are some of the questions we answer most often about PR measurement:

“Are organizations more sensitive to measurement than before?”

“Can we expect the demand for measurement by decision makers and communicators in organizations of all sizes to steadily grow?”

“Are there widely accepted methods in the PR industry?”

“Are advertising value and impressions still irritants?”

We recently attended the PR Measurement Conference in Washington to hear what North American experts had to say on this subject.

Organized by PR News, this exceptional conference brought together dozens of communications professionals sensitive to measurement. We were quite surprised to note that we were the only two from Quebec.

What’s new?

At the end of the presentations and round tables, this is what we came away with:

  • Measurement is increasingly in demand

In general, organizations of all sizes in all fields are becoming more and more sensitive to measurement. To maximize the odds of being at the decision-making table, communications professionals rely on measurement of their media relations. They say that only things that are measured have a value.

Just a few years ago, managers of organizations rarely asked to have their communications actions analyzed and measured—only the results mattered! Today the reflex for measurement is quite common.


  • There has been no consensus since Barcelona

Despite the adoption of the Barcelona principles in 2010, no industry-wide consensus has been reached on a PR measurement method.

Is this really surprising? Over time many firms, including ours, have developed measurement tools that take into account various criteria.

As in the chocolate chip cookie industry, everyone essentially uses the same ingredients, but each company jealously guards its recipe!

In Washington, nothing led us to believe that competitors would agree on an international measurement standard anytime soon.


  • Two irritants: Advertising value and impressions

For many years, there have been two debates in the PR industry regarding media coverage measurement: one on advertising value, the other on the number of impressions.

With regard to advertising value, there are:

  • Those who advocate using advertising rates as a significant basis for calculating qualitative data
  • Those who are extremely opposed to even getting near such advertising data
  • Those in between (measurement specialists) who use advertising value through a sophisticated formula—that’s what we do

With regard to the number of impressions, there are:

  • Those for it, who take great comfort in potentially reaching millions of people with their messages
  • Those against it, who feel that such dramatic data from the advertising and marketing industry should absolutely not be integrated into the measurements of PR professionals

If there are any irritants, it’s that tempers often flare between those who are “for this” or “against that.”

What is becoming increasingly clear is that aside from the few hardliners, there is a growing number of communicators who take into account the added value of PR measurement.

The best analysis method is still the one that enables managers to quickly understand whether or not their organizations’ communications actions have delivered results!

By Pierre Gince, ARP (with Caroline Roy)

In Barcelona in 2010, the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) adopted the common declaration of public relations principles—or the Barcelona Principles.

The objective was to determine a single framework for a fast-changing profession that operates around the world.

So where are we, five years on?

I’ll answer that a little later. First, the facts.

The seven principles of the Barcelona Declaration:

  1. The importance of goal setting and measurement
  2. Measuring the effect on outcomes is preferred to measuring outputs
  3. The effect on business results can and should be measured where possible
  4. Media measurement requires quantity and quality
  5. Advertising value equivalences (AVEs) are not the value of public relations
  6. Social media can and should be measured
  7. Transparency and replicability are paramount to sound measurement

Beware of major principles…

I’m sure you’ll agree that principles are always established to guide practice.

Unfortunately, in public relation and elsewhere,  there are always those who think certain principles must be followed to the letter. At the most basic level. Rigidly and… dogmatically.

With all due respect for my public relations colleagues who wrote the seven principles in Barcelona, it is clear they brought nothing new to the table. Instead, they reflected and came to a consensus on certain facts and tendencies, in addition to addressing a sensitive issue: the “famous” advertising value equivalency (meaning the cost, in advertising dollars, of media coverage if the air time or space had been purchased).

I support the Barcelona Principles and I have always opposed advertising value equivalency when it is used at the “most basic level” (in other words, when analysts claim that media coverage in any given instance has the same value as advertising space—or three or five times more—without considering the content).

This approach, which unfortunately is still used by organizations and public relations firms, discredits all the credible tools that contribute to organizational management and outreach.

However, advertising value equivalency —although imperfect, I agree— can be highly useful as part of a thorough analysis.

And so, with a tool like measure [d], which evaluates other variables, advertising value equivalency is not an end in and of itself, but rather one means among many.

For truly useful media analysis

When used strategically by experts, media coverage value in dollars is a valuable component of a results analysis method that helps communications managers, senior management, boards of directors and other readers of analysis reports understand analysis reports with dollars and percentages.

Certain analysis reports that avoid equivalent advertising value make it hard to determine whether the impact was favorable or not and—most importantly—to what extent.

For example, it could be very useful for managers to learn that a favorable reputation ranking had increased from 1.90 to 2.15.
The main benefit of obtaining data in dollars in credible media analysis reports isn’t negligible:

It helps readers understand the results!

Here’s what Andre Manning and David B. Rockland had to say in an article entitled “Understanding the Barcelona Principles,” published in the spring 2011 issue of The Public Relations Strategist:
“You must talk the language of business. This is the way to ensure that executives believe that public relations has a business value. Many companies keep track of how they are doing with customers with a Net Promoter Score. We keep track of our media results in exactly the same way (…). PR measurement has to talk the language of business — silly terms like ‘impressions,’ ‘hits’ and ‘AVEs’ have gone by the wayside.”

By relying on quality tools, public relations strategists can (finally!) speak the “language of business,” bring “added value” to business, and contribute to the “return on investment.” We’ve come a long way!

Social media has changed everything!

Where are we five years on?

In the fast-changing world of public relations (and related domains) going back five years is almost like going back to the Middle Ages!

In the list of seven principles established in 2010, social media is mentioned—very timidly—in sixth place !

It’s a truism today to say that social media has become omnipresent and inescapable. Brands use it to position themselves and inform the public. And at the same time, consumers and citizens are constantly commenting about anything and everything at any given moment.

As a result:

Rigorous analysis of social media impact has become as important as analysis of coverage obtained in dailies and magazines, on the radio or television, and through their online counterparts.

In conclusion: three observations

There are three things I have remarked upon in the five years since the adoption of the Barcelona Principles:

  • They are theoretical statements that have everything needed to rally widespread support (who could be against motherhood and apple pie?).
  • But, few professionals in Quebec and the rest of Canada have stood up to promote them since 2010.
  • Even though the stage has been set, the principles have not led to the establishment of international standards for public relations evaluation, because each firm with an interest in the field jealously guards its proprietary formula.

Recently, I was in Washington for the big PR Measurement Conference, organized by PR News. Social media evaluation was the number 1 topic of presentations and discussion, so I’ll no doubt have some highlights to share with you shortly.

Picture this. You’re a professional working in communications. One morning, your organization makes the front page or Margaret Wente’s column for all the wrong reasons.

You bust your butt to get your side of the story across, set the facts straight, and extricate your organization from the crisis.

Everybody is shaken by the experience. Your bosses are extremely nervous.

In this situation, would you dare to measure the impact of all this negative coverage on your organization?

As I’m sure you know, good news rarely makes headlines.

I am convinced, for instance, that the staff at Collège Brébeuf, a prestigious Montreal private school, does inspiring—even innovative—work to encourage their students to excel. Unfortunately, such laudable initiatives will never be enough to lead the six o’clock news.

Yet, when Collège Brébeuf fired a theater teacher—whether it was justified or not is beside the point—the story made headlines and the school’s reputation took a serious hit. That’s how the media machine works!

To fear or not to fear?

When this type of situation happens to our clients, they ask us to measure the effects of the negative media coverage on their organization. They want to know—and rightly so—whether their handling of the coverage has helped calm the storm, or added fuel to the fire.

But some communications professionals are reluctant to analyze negative news. After all, nobody likes to receive a report card peppered with D’s in school!

Media analysis is different from a report card!

Here are five reasons for analyzing negative press:

  • Distance. What if it turns out the coverage wasn’t so negative after all? An external, independent observer can help put things in perspective—and reassure management.
  • Score. A firm specialized in media analysis can determine the negative brand impact in dollars. It’s important to use a method that is easy to understand for all types of organizations.
  • Confirmation. Did the current media strategy turn the tide?
  • Distinction. A detailed analysis of the content of media coverage helps to distinguish the impact of each issue, which is essential for rehabilitating an organization’s battered reputation.
  • Clarity. Which issues would it be appropriate to put forward during the media operations following the crisis?

Media analysis is a valuable management tool, even when media coverage is negative.

Why? Because it helps you keep track of the facts and fine-tune what is or isn’t working in your communications.

Back to the Collège Brébeuf case

The private school did not renew the contract of a drama teacher because she had appeared nude in a number of films some 50 years earlier. Some enterprising students had come across certain scenes featuring their drama teacher that were considered “erotic” for the time. And a scandal was born!

  • Let’s use a negative news item, published on page 7 of Le Journal de Montréal on Tuesday, October 20 2014. This article represented a brand impact of -$41,420* for Collège Brébeuf, according to our mesure [d]  media evaluation tool

Collège Brébeuf’s administration issued a press release in response to the crisis suggesting that they were open to the teacher’s return.

  • In the wake of the release, Collège Brébeuf director Michel April gave FM 98.5 radio host Paul Arcand an interview. Insofar as the interview didn’t go too badly, it had a positive brand impact of $11,960 * for the school.

Had it not been for the terrible attack in Ottawa later that day, Brébeuf’s director would no doubt have given more interviews. In spite of everything, did Brébeuf do enough to re-establish its reputation in this affair?

* Clarification: After determining the non-negotiated advertising costs of media coverage, mesure [d] evaluates certain variables in order to determine its positive or negative brand impact (in dollars) using a number of weighted quantitative and qualitative criteria, including journalistic treatment and graphic and visual elements. Mesure [d] has helped organizations and brands since 1994.