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What coverage counts? Asks Alfred’s Dan Neale

Over the years, client expectations increase as they want more and more from their agency. Year 1 KPIs are smashed, as are year 2 and so on… but the question is, how are these being beaten?

If we are talking coverage numbers, then this really isn’t the right approach or one that has any long-term value for the client, or the wider industry for that matter. Why do we not talk more about quality over quantity?

I dread getting asked “how many pieces of coverage are you going to get” or “how many more are we going to get this year”, as this has absolutely no relation to the quality or the desired outcome that will make a genuine difference to the business. We should be discussing, how we can get better coverage next year, stronger cut-through of message, better targeting of our audience and superior tracking of results to commercials.

I’ve had many discussions around this, especially when taking on a new client. I’ve spent significant time convincing clients that we’d recommend being tasked with securing a hit on a specific media outlet that matches their audience perfectly, than ten on random sites and blogs. Be it mass reach national outlet for a business announcement, or a highly targeted niche blog for a specific product review, we should be hunting down the right coverage rather than delivering a bucket load of it across generic outlets that barely touch the core audience.

I can get you more and more coverage, reams of it, but is it any good? And does it have an impact or make any difference to the business? This obsession with numbers is down to the ease of reporting back on the effectiveness of the PR campaign, the agency and the money spent. But is it a true reflection of what has been achieved? Or the hours spent pushing and securing coverage in irrelevant places?

The high quality, hero pieces which pinpoint the audience, are where the focus needs to shift, as we know this is what will make a real difference. This will shift the needle as we touch the real opinion formers or the people who are actually interested in the brand, product or service.

Without jumping on the evaluation bandwagon, surely this common sense approach will answer some, if not many, of the evaluation questions we face as an industry, and ensure the work we deliver makes a commercial difference. I strongly believe in evaluation that is based on actions; tracking website visits, searches following a broadcast piece, or increase in conversation around a brand or product, which directly links back to the activity delivered.

As experienced communications professionals, we know what works and what doesn’t. We know what makes a difference and what is just chip wrapping. So, let’s start talking about the quality, instead the volume of coverage achieved.

Article written by Dan Neale, co-founder of Integrated PR, Digital & Social Agency, Alfred

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