Printing press

How much do journalists cost and what’s the ROI?

By Caroline Roy   |   10 April 2015
Photo journalist

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][quote_regular name=”” icon_quote=”no”]This question may seem preposterous or even insulting to my former journalist colleagues. Yet, our media analysis clients ask it frequently.[/quote_regular][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″]If you think about it, the question isn’t all that surprising. Numerous events and organizations, especially tourism bureaus, regularly invite local and foreign journalists so they will report on their event, product, or company.
[/vc_column][/vc_row] The goal is obvious: to have journalists return home and report in their respective media on their fabulous experience in Montreal, Quebec City, or the Gaspé Peninsula. Who knows? They might just convince their readers or audience to come visit Quebec.
[quote_colored name=”” icon_quote=”no”]Even when they cover the costs for such stays, organizations have no guarantee that the reports will be to their liking. It’s a roll of the dice—but it often pays off!
[/quote_colored] The practice is also common in the movie industry. Film journalists often go on sponsored trips to meet the stars and directors of upcoming releases. These are known in the business as “press junkets.”
Similar approaches are used in other industries, too. One year before its arrival in Canada, for example, Target invited Canadian journalists to meet with senior management at one of its flagship stores in the Chicago area.

Enhancing your credibility and reputation

Of course, organizations can always buy advertising space and use some of it for advertorials, but the results are incomplete at best.

The value added that journalists and bloggers provide is always the same: their credibility and sphere of influence.

Organizations hope to gain credibility and enhance their reputations thanks to coverage obtained through traditional and social media. This is why more and more clients are keen on measuring their return on investment for media relations, leading to the “brutal” question at the beginning of this post: “How much do journalists cost and what’s the ROI?

In other words, organizations in every field want to know what the dollar impact of their media relations campaigns is. Many measurement tools simply give the equivalent cost if the advertising space or airtime had been purchased and measure the general tone; some generate scores in millions of impressions (an approach that is associated more with marketing than public relations).

More than ever, organizations need quantitative and qualitative data that goes beyond superficial measurement to provide real meaning for public relations managers.

From titles, visuals, quotes, and insets to journalistic treatment, journalists’ influence, position in the media, and the influence of opponents in the report—there are more than 23 variables that can be analyzed.

Montreal’s influence abroad

Let’s take the example of a report from last July on the France 24 network. How much is this feature worth for Montreal’s brand and the Montreal International Jazz Festival? Let’s look beyond the advertising cost of this 15-minute report. Considering the very positive images of Montreal, the affirmative tone, and the numerous jazz stars featured, the report is worth a lot more than the cost of the equivalent in ad time. On its own, this coverage represents a $93,490* gain for Montreal’s brand and the Jazz Festival.

In short, analyzing media coverage to measure positive (or negative) brand impact helps your organizations manage its media relations investments better, particularly when foreign journalists are involved!

* 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.