Jan. 25 – Kevin Volz, MediaSource

On Jan. 25, 2021, the first meeting of the new year, Scripps PRSSA welcomed Kevin Volz to speak virtually to our Chapter. As the director of strategy at MediaSource, Kevin’s knowledge of public relations measurement and ROI set him apart from other PR pros and positions him as one of the most advanced public relations professionals in the industry. 

Kevin has taken results reporting to the next level at MediaSource. Thanks to Kevin, MediaSource’s results are part of a systemized process that are some of the most accurate data reports in the industry. Clients of MediaSource’s appreciate its relevant data and raw numbers that do not rely on multipliers, which can over-inflate media reach or ad value statistics. Kevin has led MediaSource in expanding its measurement capabilities to incorporate both the Barcelona Principles, a global shift in PR measurement ideals that places more emphasis on the qualitative rather than quantitative results, and the PESO Model. This push has led to an increased emphasis on social and owned media coverage, business-driving statistics and ways to show that PR efforts directly help clients meet their enterprise-wide initiatives.

Kevin started his career ten years ago at MediaSource after he graduated from Ohio State University. Today, he is a client lead for three of their biggest clients. In his current role as director of strategy, Kevin leads the analytics teams where he measures and reports PR results from clients. He also works on the social media side of things.

Who is MediaSource? Located in Grandview Heights, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, MediaSource specializes in brand storytelling––they help brands find their stories for the right audiences to meet their business goals. They also do in-house video and graphic production, which is efficient from a PR perspective. 

The PESO Model – A strategic PR storytelling approach

MediaSource is big on the storytelling approach. They are an agency that wishes to work with clients who know they have good stories but want of help telling them. Kevin mentioned that many employees at MediaSource tend to have a lot of experience with news cycles and storytelling.

How is MediaSource successful in its storytelling initiatives? The answer is the PESO model, which stands for four distinct categories of media: paid media, earned media, shared media, owned media.

  • Paid media – The obvious route. Ads in the metro, billboards, TV commercials. Today it has shifted, and today we have things like brand ambassadors (like Instagram), email marketing, and pay per click ads & paid social
  • Earned media – Includes things like media pitching, setting up interviews, bylined articles and newsjacking (plugging a client into relevant news cycles)
  • Shared media – Anything you do on a social platform for free. Things like podcasts, infographics, and livestreams
  • Owned media (forms the bedrock of all other elements of the PESO model) – This is the content you have control over. Each previous section drives to owned media, and owned media is the center of your strategy

Multimedia Releases

Kevin shared one of the primary press tools used at MediaSource: the multimedia release. Essentially, these types of releases are neatly packaged stories that include all elements a journalist could need––they provide the story for the journalist. It includes many elements familiar to PR professionals: a press release, photos, videos, a written TV package, b-roll and other downloadable bites. They provide the journalist everything they need to write a story. Below are some examples of multimedia releases and their effects:

As Kevin indicated, if you and your team are able to show results and their effects, you will become more respected in the industry and give you more leverage on future projects. Here’s another example below:

Measurement, measurement and more measurement

“If you know how to measure your success, you’ll be able to come up with the best strategy possible.” Thank you, Kevin, that’s very true! Here are some of his key notes on measurement:

  1. The best measurement programs measure relationships
  2. Measurement makes you think about how you want your work to impact the org
  3. You may not want to be measuring, but your competition probably is (so you probably should)
  4. Everyone’s got data––it’s about having the right data

Yet, you do not want to measure everything! Most of all, Kevin says the most important distinction describes measurement as not just simply counting. Instead, you want to show how you’ve shifting things via good results with the use of measurements and solid data. 

Why measure? 

  • It allows you to better manage your resources, your department and your career
  • It saves time, money and eliminates the use of hunches
  • It gives you insight into your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses
  • It gets everyone on the same page
  • It reveals your team’s strengths and weaknesses
  • It gives you a tool to say NO! – As a PR person, this is extremely important. Having measurements in place, based on what you’re seeing, can potentially give you an out. Tracking your progress as you go gives you this out, giving you the change to move on to something more worthwhile.

In recent decades, tracking measurement usually involved slapping media placements into a binder and showing it to the boss. That is no longer a thing! Now, measurement, according to Kevin, is a daily task. Your reports should be measured over time, all the time. Some clients will come to you and say “IMRPOVE OUR REPUTATION” or “MAKE US LOOK BETTER!” However, Kevin says these things do not make much sense from a PR standpoint, and it’s true. When faced with these vague commands, you have to keep asking WHY to get to the root cause of the issue. For example, maybe its because the client’s competitor is getting certain consumers or patients that your client wants. 

“How could I ever set this up in my own job?” 

Step 1: Identify your goals as early as possible – make sure the goals are understood by all members of team – a summary document or strategy plan. It should say “This is our primary SMART goal, here’s why and how,” and it needs to be distributed to everyone

Step 2: Decide how you are going to measure and analyze. Make sure goals are clear at the project’s start and put a plan in place to measure these goals throughout the project

Step 3: Break down your silo – get everyone’s buy in from the start, meaning you should set up time for regular check-ins to keep things running smoothly

Step 4: Report your data that will make sense to your C-suite. Learn how to tell stories with your data, and give as much content as you can. Kevin calls it “data storytelling”––show all of the progress, both good and bad. Discuss how results influenced your strategy, too.

Step 5: Report your results in person … even though this is not the case in an era of pandemic. Kevin recommends reporting in person because people often have a lot of questions, and being able to answer these questions closes the door to ambiguity. It gives you a chance to flex your knowledge, stand your ground and defend your actions. Always be prepared for questions and stand behind your results. 

“Too many people place too little value on measurement, and it’s detrimental to their success as PR professionals,” Kevin said. 

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