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Beyond AVEs: How Negative Sentiment Drives Engagement in Earned Media

Memo, a company specializing in earned media measurement, sheds light on a crucial metric for PR professionals: audience engagement. Their research reveals a surprising trend – negative sentiment may be a key driver of social media engagement with earned media coverage.

The study suggests a decline in social media sharing, potentially due to privacy concerns or a desire to avoid online negativity. However, it highlights a counterintuitive finding: articles with negative sentiment garnered higher engagement compared to positive ones. This presents a challenge for brands traditionally focused on Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) metrics, which don’t account for actual audience interaction.

A key question arises: Does engagement with negative sentiment translate to true value? If readers engage with a critical headline but don’t delve into the content, is there genuine brand impact?

The answer likely depends on the brand’s strategy. Controversial content can be a calculated risk for some brands, particularly those seeking to stand out in a crowded marketplace. However, for most brands, a focus on positive and informative messaging remains essential.

Political parties offer a contrasting example, where negative content about opponents can be strategically used to mobilize their base.

The key takeaway aligns with Ornico’s emphasis on effective communication. Brands must clearly define their content goals and target audience to maximize engagement. By understanding these factors, brands can craft earned media that resonates with their audience and delivers measurable results.