Accuracy of Coverage

Accuracy of Coverage is not one metric but a combination of component metrics. PR people differ about what those component metrics should be and about how they should be combined and used.

That is to say, this is one of the most controversial subjects in public relations. That’s unfortunate, because obtaining accurate media coverage is important to most businesses.

So, we have a messy topic and a lot of differences of opinion. However, my mission in this web site is to simplify everything for you and to introduce you to the most important marketing metrics. And so, I will attempt a simple summary of the topic of accuracy of coverage.

The basic issues include: whether reporters have seen/heard, understood, believed and respected your messages; and whether reporters are treating your messages fairly – especially in the context of how they are treating your competitors’ messages.

Some of the key points are: whether “your” stories appear in the media; how often; the prominence of “your” stories when they do appear in the media; the presence of your core messages; the absence of your core messages; inaccuracies that appear to be ignorance or lack of understanding (as opposed to typos and oversights); and the general tone of the coverage.

How You Do It

Unless you have a large and sophisticated PR department, I would suggest that you make use of outside services. There are services that will monitor your coverage for you and services that will analyze your coverage. Some of these services have proprietary methodologies and software.

There are also specialist consultants who will work with you and tailor their expertise to your specific situation. I recommend these for most organizations.

Consultants typically offer content analysis and related types of analysis. If this interests you, go to Content Analysis for details.

Strengths

This is an important navigational metric. If you speak to veteran PR people, you will hear many stories about reporters who, with no apparent malice, caused a lot of damage just through ignorance or misunderstanding. And you will also hear stories in which a competent analysis of the coverage enabled PR people to “educate” those reporters. I have seen several of these “happy endings.”

Also, you can use this metric to diagnose your publicity program and prescribe changes, often quite precisely.

Weaknesses

It’s expensive. Competent consultants deserve substantial fees; and the analysis is rarely a one-time affair.

Another drawback is that you must be very careful not to discuss this metric publicly, because journalists are likely to interpret it as compiling an “enemies” list. The last thing you need in your busy life is to accidentally generate negative stories that aren’t even true.

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