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PR industry launches new standard
for measurement and ROI

By Mark Hunter LaVigne, APR

Evaluation of media coverage has always been a problem. Credibility was always at the mercy of the many different paradigms used to calculate reach and quality — until now.

After four years in development under the leadership of Tracey Bochner, APR, Senior Vice President, APEX Public Relations, her group of senior agency, industry and client side media relations specialists has launched a new standard for measuring editorial coverage and return on investment (ROI) called Media Relations Rating Points (MR2P™) in partnership with the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS).

A marketing-PR industry poll conducted by the CPRS Measurement Committee in 2005 revealed 96 per cent of respondents agreed there was a need for a standard PR measurement. A solid 99 per cent of respondents said that they would use a standardized MR2P system.

“Our members tell us that one of the greatest challenges communications practitioners face today is measuring editorial media coverage,” say Karen Dalton, APR, executive director of CPRS. “Media Relations Rating Points will allow us to use for the first time a consistent, official system of measurement that can compare media relations activities, as well as accurately calculate return on investment to stakeholders. MR2P s will soon become as important in the PR industry as GRP ratings are to the advertising sector.”

The CPRS Measurement Committee, chaired by Bochner, also includes representatives from Porter Novelli, NATIONAL Public Relations, DDB Public Relations, Thornley Fallis, Strategic Objectives, Cara Operations, and the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion. David Jones of Thornley Fallis has led the development of a blog on MRP, which can be found at

To understand how valuable this media relations measurement paradigm is, look at how media relations evaluation has been conducted previously.

Generally, it starts with the audience numbers. Then a multiple is applied to arrive at impressions. Traditionally, multiples for print can range from two times to 10 times, depending on the evaluator. “For broadcast, if you called an outlet and asked different people who work there on both the editorial and sales sides, you would probably get different answers on the 'reach' because those numbers depend on how that department reports the numbers which could be total show reach, quarter-hour audience reach or even total station reach,” Bochner observes.

MRP provides consistency. The system uses standardized data on print circulation to get total impressions, and provides BBM numbers for broadcast, which are often inaccessible to PR firms unless they have official advertising agency status or ad agency partners. The cost for the data will be modest (and there is a discount for CPRS members). The measurement template and user guide is free to anyone to download at

All of the audience data, including Web site audience information, will be provided by News Canada, which won the RFP. "We're delighted to be working on this project and believe it is very important to clients to have a common media relations measurement paradigm," says Ruth Douglas, President, News Canada. The online service will be available in both English and French via for an annual fee of $725 for a single license with a 10 per cent discount to CPRS members.

What MRP does not do is provide advertising equivalencies, and rightfully so. That form of measurement has at least a few problems. Firstly, editorial cannot be purchased and therefore cannot have an advertising equivalency. As Bochner puts it: “You simply cannot buy media coverage!” Secondly, editorial often has far more third-party word of mouth generation power than does advertising. Bochner adds that “you can't buy space on the front page, above the fold, so how would you measure that through ad equivalencies? It doesn't make any sense.”

In a nutshell, the MR2P system provides a score based on standardized criteria that incorporate tone as well. The tone plus the ratings generate an overall percentage score. “In the tests we have done to date with our clients, we consider 75% or above a good campaign,” notes Bochner. The system also works out a cost per contact (this is where the standardized reach data becomes useful), “so our clients can demonstrate ROI to their stakeholders and evaluate a program's success compared to other campaigns,” says Bochner.

For more information on MR2P, go to or contact Tracey Bochner, APR at


Mark LaVigne, APR, is an elected member of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) National Board and is Past President CPRS (Toronto). He runs a media relations and media coaching firm based in Aurora, Ontario where he can be reached at (905) 841-2017 or