How to Create a PR Coverage Report?
You are a PR expert and work hard at your craft. Because of your effort clients get coverage on well-known media outlets.
You want clients to know and appreciate your accomplishment. Sharing results should be the best part of work, but at the end of every PR campaign dread sets in. Compiling reports. Sigh. You start to procrastinate. Who likes the hassle of laying out documents, making screenshots and looking up metrics?
Fear not, we have your back. In this guide we will explain how you can easily create coverage reports that do your work justice. And no, you don’t have to purchase a product for it.
Here’s how we’re going to break it all down:
- What Is A PR Coverage Report?
- Looks Matter.
- How To Structure A PR Coverage Report.
- PR Clipping: The Best Ways To Make Clips.
- How To Estimate Coverage Views.
- What is Earned Media Value?
- How To Calculate Earned Media Value.
- Presenting Your Findings
What Is A PR Coverage Report?
A coverage report is a document that provides an overview of everything that was written about a company, brand, or individual during a specific period. It can include coverage for a new product release, an event you organized or anything else.
Coverage reports are created for different reasons. Sometimes the goal is to keep everyone in an organization up to date about company & industry news. More often it is to illustrate the results of public relations campaigns. Results can be sales that were generated, or other things such as improved reputation or brand awareness.
The goal of the report helps determine the information that should be included. But regardless of the data you want to include, all coverage reports have one factor in common.
The way in which results are presented significantly influences the perception of the work. This is not only the case in PR.
Great chefs pay a lot of attention to the way their plates are presented. They know that the way food looks influences how it tastes. Some restaurants even buy plates that have been designed to make food look good on pictures (Hello Instagram!).
The main driver of success for restaurants is the perception of the food. And for plates to taste great, presentation matters. Similarly, the way you present media coverage will have an effect on your customers’ decision to continue doing business with you.
Do you make the same effort as great chefs in how you present your work?
Emailing your customers a list of links to earned coverage does not do your work justice. Moreover, an unattractive format will lead clients to value results less. Perhaps you would like to send something amazing, but are not sure how you can create an awesome coverage report. Don’t worry, because we will give you a step-by-step guide.
How To Structure A PR Coverage Report.
The purpose of a coverage report is to give stakeholders an overview of published articles, and their impact on key metrics.
Structure your coverage report in the following way to achieve this.
First impressions count. The cover is the first thing a reader will see. Ensure it has an appropriate look & feel. You don’t have to hire a graphic designer to help, but make certain it looks professional.
The cover should include your and/or your customers logo, as well as a title that describes what the reader can expect.
The executive summary is the most important part of your report. Executives don’t have the time to go through the entire document, but want to know the most important aspects.
In the executive summary you should highlight key parts of the report. For example, the total number of articles published, where they appeared (blogs, magazines), social shares, and estimated coverage views. Emphasize any key wins you want them to notice.
Many PRs finish the executive summary with the key wins. But this will leave an opportunity untapped. Finish with an evaluation of results and propose next steps. Executives are the ultimate decision makers, don’t miss the chance to plant the seeds for your next project.
The executive summary is the first part of your report, but you will write it last. The reason for this is simple. If you do not know the content of the entire PR report yet, there is nothing to summarize.
PR Clipping - What Data Should You Include In A Coverage Report?
Clipping is the core ingredient of your coverage report. Put each piece of your best earned media on a separate page. This way you ensure it does not escape the attention of your readers. In addition to the clip of every article and post, you should also include the following data:
- The name of the publication the article appeared in.
- Date the article was published.
- URL to the article (if available).
- Estimated monthly visits of the publication.
- Estimated coverage views
For Bonus Points
Including the following data in your coverage report is the icing on the cake.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) metrics. Highlight SEO benefits from coverage. These benefits consist of links in earned media that point to the client website.
When the linking domain has a good reputation, the reputation of the website they link to will also increase. This will result in keywords being ranked higher in search results. And that translates to more qualified visits to your clients website.
Social Media Shares. When an article is shared on social media it has numerous benefits for your client. Shares drive traffic, credibility, and reputation. The engagement also positively influences organic rankings.
Sequence. When sales people give a presentation they put a lot of thought into the order in which they present the different benefits. Consensus is to put the best one first to grab the attention of the audience. The second best argument goes last. The least strong points are in the middle of the block. Use this system to order your clipping. Include the coverage you are most proud of first.
ROI & Evaluation Of Results.
Most reports end with the last clipping. Depending on the purpose of the coverage report this can be fine.
When the report provides an overview of what has been written about a new product and is distributed to all employees of a company, there is no need to quantify and evaluate results. The same applies to a branding campaign.
However, when the main recipients are executives, ending the report with the clippings will leave two important aspects unaddressed. The estimated return on investment (ROI) of the campaign and an evaluation of results.
Estimating the return of a campaign is more of an art than a science. We will explain how you can do this in detail in the section “How To Calculate Earned Media Value”.
The ROI you include here is the number you calculated in the aforementioned section divided by the cost of the campaign. For example, a campaign that generates 50 in revenue and costs 40 has a return of 25% (= 50 / 40). Numerous free ROI calculators are available online to help if doing math is not your strong point.
After reading the report most CMOs and CFOs will have questions as: How do results compare with expectations? Is the earned coverage good, phenomenal, average? Relative to what? Are there things that should be approached differently in the future? What worked well and what did not? You should address these questions in an evaluation of results.
Whether or not it makes sense to include next steps also depends on the recipients of the report. As a rule of thumb, when you include an evaluation and ROI estimate, you should include next steps.
The next steps section is the perfect place to pitch ideas for new projects. The client has just seen the results of your work and has those top of mind. When they are happy with the achievement they will be keen on seeing new ideas to continue the relationship and expand results.
PR Clipping: The Best Ways To Make Clips.
Here are a few tricks and tools to make taking screenshots of articles easier.
On a Mac. Press and hold these three keys together: Shift, Command, and 4. This will open a crosshair crosshair that you can drag to select the part of the screen you want to capture. To cancel the screenshot press the Esc key.
On Windows. Press “Windows + Shift + S”. Your screen will appear grayed out and your mouse cursor will change. Click and drag on your screen to select the part of your screen you want to capture.
There are different browser plugins you can install that will make saving articles easy.
Evernote Web Clipper. This extension enables you to clip entire articles and save them to Evernote for later processing.
Pocket. Is another plugin that allows you to easily save articles, videos and stories from any publication, page or app.
We also have detailed guide explaining how to clip YouTube videos for a PR report.
How To Estimate Coverage Views.
For each clip in your report you should include the number of coverage views. This will be an estimate unless you have access to visitor data directly from the website analytics of each publication.
Here is how you can estimate views for articles in different categories.
How To Estimate Views Of Online Content.
SimilarWeb provides traffic estimates for most domains. You can check this information for correctness by comparing it with the Alexa rank of the domain.
There is one possible shortcut. Websites that sell inventory to advertisers usually publish their own stats. You can look up their self published numbers and use those to estimate coverage views. Keep in mind that the numbers they present are usually not the most conservative ones ;)
A limitation of all methods is that they will only give you traffic data for the entire domain. You have to use their numbers to derive an estimate of how many of those actually read an article.
The number of readers is driven by the amount of time the piece was displayed on the homepage, the days it was there, other stories published during the same period and the screen size it occupied. Discount the numbers reported by SimilarWeb with a rate based on these four factors to calculate your estimate.
Another option is to use ReachReport. The application takes the four mentioned factors into account and gives an automatic estimate of the number of coverage views.
Coming up with an estimate for online video is easy. YouTube and other sites display the number of views next to the video.
Estimating Views & Listens Of Radio And TV Shows.
This one is also easy and only slightly more work than online video. Most countries have companies that publish the estimated number of viewers of TV shows.
Estimating Print Article Views.
Magazines and newspapers report circulation data. Great, problem solved, right? Almost… magazines and newspapers have an incentive to inflate these numbers. More circulation means that they can up their ad rates. Just like in the case of numbers reported by websites, think twice before taking these numbers at face value.
Larger magazines and newspapers have numbers that have been audited by organizations such as BPA. Wikipedia also has circulation data. Because all pages are community reviewed the numbers are usually correct.
What is Earned Media Value?
Earned media value is the quantification of the monetary value of what has been published about a company. Or, to put it in less abstract terms, how much money will be made as a result of the publications you earned for a client. You will usually see people in the industry referring to it as EMV.
How To Calculate Earned Media Value.
Before explaining how to calculate earned media value, we have to take a step back and discuss marketing in general. PR falls in the marketing category, because it is a way of generating interest.
There are two types of marketing: branding and direct. Brand marketing aims to grow sales in the long run by increasing people their familiarity with a brand. It is not concerned with measurement of the value earned by campaigns, because it is impossible to track. If someone, for example, reads an article about a brand in Vogue today, and buys a dress from that company a year later, there is no way to quantify the role of that piece in the purchasing decision.
Direct marketing, however, is a different animal. It is called direct because the goal is to drive an immediate action. This can be, for example, visiting a website, registering for a newsletter or purchasing a product. And you can measure and quantify these actions.
Many in PR have always used a standard formula for calculating the value of earned media. Take the cost of an ad with the same size as the article and multiplying it by 3. People are increasingly aware that this is problematic for different reasons.
Problems With The Standard Approach For Calculating Earned Media Value.
Warren Buffet famously quipped: “Price is what you pay, value is what you get”. This is a good lens to see one of the problems with the formula. The 3x only takes into account the cost, and completely ignores value. And value happens to be a key part of EMV.
The value of media depends on the product sold. It is wildly different if the coverage drives the sale of 50 cars, rather than 200 t-shirts. Simply multiplying the cost of an equivalent ad does not take value into account.
There is another problem with the standard approach of calculating EMV. Changes in price of an advertisement do not affect the value. If a newspaper raises advertising rates by 30% today, it is hard to argue that the higher asking price caused the value to increase by 90% overnight.
Despite its flaws, it is easy to understand why the 3x metric became so popular as a proxy for EMV. The calculation is easy to understand and fast to make. Moreover, there is no well-known alternative way to reliably calculate the value of earned media.
Another Way To Calculate The Value Of Earned Media.
Here is another approach you can use to calculate EMV. The value of a PR campaign is derived from the following components:
- Increase in Sales.
- New website visitors and followers.
- Reputation / Branding
We can come up with an idea of campaign impact by looking at each of these four factors.
Increase In Sales.
The growth in sales as a result of a PR campaign is a clear example of value. Compare sales data from the period your earned media was published, with a similar period. This can be e.g. the previous month, or sales in the same month a year before. Work with the clients marketing team to see what increase can be attributed to earned media.
New Website Visitors And Followers
New visits and followers do not all directly result in additional sales, but they do have value. For example, readers of earned media can start following the company and become a paying customer at some point in the future.
Determining the value of new visitors starts with quantifying the increase in traffic. Most new visits can be directly attributed to earned media by the analytics system. Not all traffic can be mapped to earned media, but if the customer has more traffic than usual you should speak with their website / data team.
Remember to check if there also is an increase in direct visits to the website. Although direct visits will not show up in the stats as referrals by a publication, a percentage can be attributed to your earned media. Your client can help determine what percentage of the increase in traffic is linked to the PR campaign.
Most businesses have a standard $ / € value for every new visitor that you can use in your calculation. If a figure is not available they use the cost per click (CPC) of advertising on Google with similar keywords.
Mentions in earned media can include links. These backlinks help the client rank better for searches on Google.
Measuring the impact of a new backlink on the position in search results is tricky. It is impossible to associate the effect of each inbound link with the ranking of every keyword. You should point out the value of the links from earned media. Do that by making a list of the earned links and the importance of the domains linking in.
Reputation / Branding
The results of PR campaigns on branding are impossible to measure, but they do exist. When you read a story about a new tool today you will probably not consciously remember that article months later. If you decide to purchase the tool on a whim a year from now, the article has probably played a role, but it is impossible to quantify.
However, you should discuss branding and the other three factors with your client. This will give them a framework to value the direct and indirect results of your PR work.
Presenting Your Findings
Now that you have compiled a report the last step is sharing it. Present your report in person whenever possible.
Discussing it directly with your customer instead of mailing it offers lots of optionality. You can go into more detail of different aspects, move faster or slow down and directly pitch the client on next steps.
As you have seen, preparing a coverage report requires quite some work. The good news is that you can automate a big part of this tedious task. Our application ReachReport can do the heavy lifting and, among other things, automatically make clippings and include stats of each article. Register for a free trial now and make your coverage report in minutes.