“Exploring the Link Between Share of Media Coverage and Business Outcomes,” the second of two papers by Angie Jeffrey (VMS), David Michaelson (David Michaelson & Company), and Don Stacks (University of Miami), builds on an earlier work that may be familiar to regular readers of this column. In that previous work, the authors convincingly demonstrated several things about media coverage and business results: volume matters, tone matters, and message matters.
So, with a database of more than 10 million news articles, and appropriate business outcome data from a variety of sources, the researchers set out to look at correlations with competitive share of media coverage among key players in a given market.
Advertising people have long looked at “Share of Voice” as a measure of their influence in the marketplace. PR people sometimes use similar measures of media coverage versus their competitors. But the authors, leaving nothing to faith, wanted to determine how well “Share of Discussion” – incorporating both quantity and quality of an organization’s non-paid media compared with competitors – actually related to desired business outcomes.
The four cases presented in the paper involve: a major regional medical center (with the business outcome being favorability levels in a consumer preference survey); a hormone-replacement drug (the business outcome being prescription volume); a maker of business software (looking at the sales closing ratio); and a cookie and cracker company (where the business outcome is sales compared to forecast). The cases variously compared competitive share modified to also account for tone (positive, neutral, negative) and prominence of coverage.
The results were very high correlations ranging from .84 to .98. (Putting that in perspective, 1.0 would mean a perfect 100% correlation.)
More than 200 case studies like this have been run. No more than a handful have failed to show strong correlations between Share of Discussion and business outcomes – and this handful of cases were all characterized by extremely low story volumes compared to paid media.
So you say your organization’s business outcomes aren’t what they should be, and competitors are out-shouting you in media coverage? It may be time for a serious talk with management about what it will take to stay in the game.
Click here for complete paper and tell us what you think.
President and CEO
Institute for Public Relations