The metric of ‘reach’ and why it’s irrelevant to your PR clients

By our News Team | 2022

‘Potential reach’ is a manipulative metric, while ‘actual reach’ is difficult to ascertain without a media outlet’s internal metrics.

For African PR agencies and their clients, effectively measuring the success of their press releases and new media campaigns is a matter for ongoing debate.

What constitutes success? Is it column centimetres in a publication, website hits, article ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, favourable comments? The list is extensive and what matters to one agency and its client may be irrelevant to another.

Public Relations

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

What about ‘reach’ as a metric for success? Writing in the industry publication PR Daily, Dustin Siggins of US-based publicity firm Proven Media Solutions, questions its value as a measure of success, pointing out that ‘potential reach’, is a manipulative metric used by far too many PR professionals and PR-tangential companies.

And without a media outlet’s internal metrics, it’s near-impossible to determine the actual total reach – which, of course, may be a fraction of the potential reach.

“Reach is a better metric of success than potential reach,” he writes. “However, it is very limited because (a) again, it’s impossible to track all reach without an outlet’s internal data, and (b) ‘reach’ is most valuable when reaching the right people with the right message at the right time.”

Siggins believes there are other metrics which, depending upon the circumstances, are more important than reach, especially for clients who understand that the best PR campaigns are long-term investments. These include:

  • The SEO value of press. For clients who rely heavily on Google searches for traffic, smaller metrics such as downstream media coverage (like material being republished or repurposed by other outlets) and backlink quality can create not just reach, but the opportunity for exponentially more reach through an effective SEO strategy.
  • Press credibility compared to client brand reputation. Putting a little-known client into a highly regarded media outlet sends their message into the national space, regardless of ‘reach’. And it gives them automatic credibility with stakeholders and other press outlets.
  • Creating a call to action. Reaching 100,000 people doesn’t matter if none of them are interested in taking the client’s preferred action. Reaching 10,000 people who are likely to take action is 10% of the audience size – but may have 10 times the impact. This is especially true for political or activist campaigns.

“But even the most effective press campaign is limited without the other side of the branding coin: effective marketing that repurposes press placements to reach other audiences with variations on the same message,” Siggins states.

“Reaching people just means they’ve been touched once. The best clients know what PR professionals and salespeople know: that people need to be reached many times with different message variations before they are likely to take the desired action.”

Read the full article here: