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Understand Your Earned Media Value Using HELM
Back to POV

Understand Your Earned Media Value Using HELM

By Michael Griebe

Free publicity is a win for any company, whether you’re in food and beverage, energy, commodities, healthcare, transportation, or even government.


In a previous article, we shared the importance of tracking your earned media value (emv) and the challenges many organizations face in assigning a dollar value to their media mentions and calculating the return on investment (ROI) of their earned media efforts. The impact of earned media isn’t easy to quantify, especially when you want to go beyond basic vanity metrics. Based on those insights, it’s clear that companies need a better, easier, and more confident way to calculate their earned media value and its impact on their public relations strategies.

That’s why we developed HELM, an outcome-based model that allows you to make sense of your earned media placements in ways that matter to your brand. Here’s how you can understand your brand or organization’s earned media value using HELM.


Hahn’s Earned Lift Model, or HELM, helps you see value in every media mention you receive. It puts your public relations into perspective so you can justify your PR spend and demonstrate the impact of your efforts. Whether you’re writing press releases or getting retweeted, measuring the outcomes of your earned media efforts is possible with HELM. 

In the past, PR professionals have struggled to track all of their earned media mentions and establish the value of each one. When you have multiple media mentions at any given time, it’s important to determine what each one is worth so you can make better decisions regarding your paid PR campaigns. Comparing a snapshot of total impressions to impressions per channel can help you see your most engaged audiences and media partners, allowing you to build on that success.

HELM levels the playing field by adding context and clarity to your media insights. You can filter your ROI down to a mention-by-mention basis and know where the most value comes from.

Our model looks at not only the number of mentions but also who’s covering your brand, the geographic location where the coverage comes from, the type of media and the media channel (e.g., blog post, featured story, influencer post, social media mention, etc.), how far the mention reached, and whether your brand was the star of the message or just a small supporting actor.

Features of the Helm Model

  • Quantify the ROI of single or multiple PR campaigns
  • Gain a better grasp of your earned media ROI
  • Side-step blindspots in your PR efforts that may obscure its total impact
  • Illuminate new business opportunities to form media or influencer connections
  • Discover successful competitor-earned media methods to get ahead of the curve
  • Prove the impact of earned media based on sales and brand health
  • Verify the business impact of influencer marketing campaigns
  • Assess the reach of a potentially damaging article, blog post or social media post
  • Measure share of voice

We’ve designed this model to cater to any company or brand, regardless of industry or size. Whether you’re trying to increase sales, retain loyalty, or maximize shareholder value, our patent-pending process measures the impact of your earned media based on your chosen marketing strategy. Know for certain whether you’re getting an ROI on your PR—and prove it to your stakeholders and C-suite.

Why companies need a better approach to earned media valuations


The HELM approach replaces the outdated AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency) model. Developed in the 1940s, AVE was intended to provide a framework for estimating the amount of revenue generated by a media article. However, the practice has come under constant scrutiny, and many within the PR industry have deemed it controversial and unethical.

For starters, AVE doesn’t account for the variety of factors that impact your overall outcomes. Rather, it focuses on the SIZE x RATE formula that compares an earned media article to the projected cost of running a similar paid ad campaign. This leaves the gate wide open for errors, as it doesn’t consider aspects like consumer trust, sentiment, brand awareness, customer loyalty, engagement metrics, or other factors related to your brand or the media outlet that may influence public perceptions.

In other words, a one-size-fits-all framework only looks at the length and placement of media coverage. Neglecting other influential factors will skew your results and give you an unrealistic idea of your PR’s value.

Today, brands have access to more data tools than ever before. From artificial intelligence to natural language processing to machine learning and other technologies, companies have more ways to add context to their data and better understand what that data means. 

HELM is designed by a team of data scientists and earned media communications experts to add context to every media mention. The HELM model brings together marketing and communication experts with data scientists to bring your PR to life.

The Hahn advantage for PR effectiveness

How do you value earned media? We believe that every mention matters, and we have a way to prove it.

Hahn tailors HELM to your business and PR strategy, giving you the insights that matter most to you. We use your goals to measure the outcomes of your earned media mentions, whether you’re looking to grow your brand awareness, improve sentiment, or drive direct sales.

Every model is truly custom because no businesses are quite alike. From your audience to your revenue to how you operate, you deserve to get a realistic snapshot of your brand’s success based on what makes you unique.

How to apply HELM to your PR evaluations

Data scientists at Hahn work directly with your marketing and communications teams to customize our HELM approach to your public relations strategy. We help you learn the true value of your earned media so you can demonstrate your success with data that goes beyond media coverage volume.

If you want to learn how we can help you transform your PR, meet with one of our HELM experts!


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