There have been rumblings in the world of journalism and PR regarding the need for evolving standards for measuring the success of a published piece. After all, in the age of relentless clickbait, does it still make sense to only count clicks and pageviews?
It looks like these concerns are being heard over at NPR where they are building a tool that will aggregate data from a variety of sources, including Chartbeat, Google Analytics and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Called Carebot, it will follow a formula created by NPR’s team to evaluate how much readers truly care about any given story. Yes, you read that right: care. The formula will be based on the number of engagements per pageview. For example: a story with 1,000,000 pageviews and 1000 shares would have a lower Carebot score than a story with 1,000 pageviews and 100 shares.
This approach has the potential to influence how news organizations might evolve their measurement criteria and celebrate the things that actually matter, like: Was the entire story read? What proportion of the audience shared it? How many commented?
So what does this mean for PR professionals?
While we are always focused on pitching content to reporters that we think will interest their audience, the advent of Carebot reinforces the need to be mindful and offer reporters stories that will likely evoke engagement from the reader. At the heart of this is the art of storytelling. We’ve already seen storytelling becoming an essential element in social media, with the launch of Twitter’s ‘Moments,’ and we believe it may be the key to successfully engaging readers and making them “care.” And if they care about the story, chances are they will become interested in the person or company behind that story.
Time alone will tell if the launch of NPR's Carebot will spark other organizations to follow suit and how effectively it will influence not only their audience’s interest but also the content they produce. We will surely be monitoring.