Being able to measure your success is critical to establishing and determining growth as well as making good decisions. But even as data analysis has taken off in other fields, Public Relations (PR) has been slow to turn to data-driven analysis.
A part of the issue is that PR deals in factors that seem intangible, like support and customer attitudes. Many companies (more than 80%, according to one study!) say that they don’t have the capabilities to accurately assess the return on investment (ROI) of their PR efforts.
Today, there’s abundant technology out there that is capable of generating useful insight. PR Measurement tracks the impact of PR efforts and documents the business outcomes of a campaign. It assigns concrete, measurable metrics to even qualitative factors like popular sentiment.
Tracking the right public relations metrics gives a detailed analysis of what you’re currently doing as well as what’s working – or what isn’t – and why. This can be key to demonstrating the value of what you’re already doing.
It can also help you answer questions like:
In addition to planning better future campaigns, it’s sometimes possible to tweak existing campaigns to maximize their impact and increase ROI.
The knowledge you gain from analyzing PR campaign data can also help in other ways, such as preparing you with relevant audience and demographic information during an unexpected relations crisis in the future.
PR professionals often find identifying the right metrics to use the biggest barrier to beginning a data-driven strategy. In fact, one study found that two of the main reasons that PR professionals do not measure their results were due to metrics, as they were either “uncertain how to measure” or felt there was a “lack of standards” in relation to metrics.
The right PR measurement metrics to use vary depending on your ultimate goal, the size of your audience, and your current PR campaigns. That said, here’s a list of some categories that are often useful to assessing PR success:
Nothing else matters if no one sees what you’re putting out there; viewers are the number one metric for a reason. You can (and should) also get more specific: what type of content performs best, and where is it located? How do metrics compare between social content, your blog, and other content? Most analytics programs should provide this information.
Referrals track where your views are coming from, which can sometimes be even more valuable than just knowing the size of your audience. Referrals let you track what kind of approach does the best job of reeling people in and discover where your audience is most likely to encounter your content and follow it to your site.
Increasing sales is often the underlying goal of PR and marketing campaigns; the most obvious metric of success in that arena is just how many people actually become customers after viewing your campaign.
If people leave your site immediately after coming to it, that could be a sign that you’re not doing enough to entice people to stay around. Knowing the typical path visitors follow once on your site can also help you plan and group content accordingly.
Your domain authority plays a big role in how Google ranks you in search. Some factors that determine domain authority are outside of your control, like age, but backlinks and outgoing links also play a role, meaning that tracking your domain authority over time can be a key metric to follow.
How many people are linking to your content or your site? What kind of mentions is your brand getting? How big are they, and what kind of authority do they have?
How many of the people that you’re reaching are actually serious about making a future purchase?
While it can be difficult to directly link PR campaigns and revenue, the bottom line itself can be a source of objective evidence that a campaign is working, particularly in smaller businesses.
How many people talk about your brand naturally on social media? In other words, who is talking about you and what are they saying?
The tone of these mentions can be more important than the mentions themselves – many modern tools will allow you to measure whether the talking points are positive or negative, which can be highly useful when tracking brand reputation over time.
Another measure of the impact of your content in social networking sites is the number of people who engage with you in conversation. Likes, shares, comments, follows, and subscribers all measure your audience and how invested they are in your brand.
Share of Voice measures the amount of airtime you get compared to other brands in your industry. If people talking about your industry only seldom concern your business specifically, it may be time to consider altering your approach to stand out better from the crowd.
There are a lot of ways to measure the impact of your PR efforts. The best PR metrics to track vary depending on your goals, but always, the key is to emphasize the way you use the metrics to measure the actual impact of your message and content.
In other words, choose metrics that are tied to your actual goals – for example, more sales or a larger, more engaged audience, not vanity metrics such as the number of views alone: who is actually viewing it, and does that group match your target audience? Does your content affect their perception of your brand?
PR is key to driving engagement, increasing awareness, and creating a sense of community around your brand. There are abundant tools and strategies that can help you achieve these goals and stand out from the crowd, but public relations metrics arm you with the insight necessary to demonstrate and measure your success over time.
Does this list align with your experience with measurement metrics? Did we miss any? We’d love to hear your tips!
Want help finding a way to measure the impact of your PR efforts? We can help – check out our contact us page for more information, or get a free consultation with one of our experts on media reporting.