It’s a myth that PR measurement doesn’t exist. There’s a pervasive misconception that public relations is squishy and hard to measure, which is true when you’re simply measuring “awareness” for general audiences.
In most cases, using “raise awareness” as a goal is the lazy way out. However, if you have a large budget for public opinion polling, you can use pre- and post-campaign surveys to determine if you’ve impacted awareness among consumers of any age, in any location.
Most companies aren’t that broad. Usually, CEOs, CROs and CMOs have a specific idea of the person they’re trying to reach and which products or services they’re trying to sell.
In this case, the PR activities can be measured in a number of ways, depending on business goals and on the PR tactics being used. Gini Dietrich, creator of the PESO Model, says executives “appreciate knowing [that] what we do isn’t some dark arts magic.”
Why Measuring PR Matters
Smart companies want to see value for their PR efforts. It’s possible to measure PR value. Experts in PR measurement can track whether a campaign is moving the needle.
Every customer journey is different, and every client’s business or organization is structured in a different way. With this in mind, we advise our clients to establish a customized PR strategy from the outset complete with clear, objective goals that you can tie to measurable results.
PR metrics are key for your future PR campaign's success.
Shared Goals for PR Success
Your PR team, whether it’s in-house or through an agency, should create partnerships with marketing and business development teams. By working together, your respective teams can establish and integrate their shared goals.
This often means breaking down silos within a company or organization. It’s critical to integrate public relations throughout various departments and teams for success. By clarifying what PR measurements tie into campaign objectives, PR teams and their partners in marketing and business development can unify their approach to nail down wins.
When internal teams are aligned toward achieving the same goals, campaigns are more effective and track to the company’s overall goals.
How to Measure Public Relations
The right key performance indicators (KPIs) are tied to what creates positive impact on a client’s situation or performance. To do that, effective PR professionals work to understand the unique customer journey for a client, as well as a client’s position within their industry and community.
A solid PR plan identifies the most valuable objectives from the outset of a relationship or PR campaign.
Depending on the company’s goals, the PR measurement tactics might be tied to:
- Lead-to-sale or trial conversions,
- Webinar signups,
- Open and click rates for owned channels like e-newsletters,
- Share of voice in media coverage,
- Engagement rates on shared channels like social media,
- Web traffic to specific webpages,
- Perception surveys with key audiences,
- Leads from community or industry involvement.
When setting timelines for measuring PR campaigns, keep in mind that public relations is a long game. Even simple quantitative changes, like seeding effective SEO, can take six or more months to fully take effect. That makes matching your campaign goals to your KPIs from the start even more important.
Why AVEs Aren’t Solid PR Measurement
It’s tempting to use ad equivalency values (AVEs) to measure the success of your media relations efforts. AVEs use the rate card of news outlets, then apply a multiplier of the agency’s choosing to determine how much it would have cost to buy the space.
Don’t fall into the trap of using this outdated and antiquated measurement as a key PR metric. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison for ads and editorial content. More importantly, AVEs aren’t outcome-driven. AVEs may give you a look at the potential audience or advertising value, but they don’t tell you what the audience did with the information.
Measure your PR success with spikes in website traffic, heightened social engagement, or a flurry of new business activity in the days following a news story.
Planning for PR Measurement
This isn’t to say that the number of people reached isn’t important, or that earned media coverage isn’t powerful. It is, and it should be measured in relation to your output-driven indicators. However, it’s more important to look at outcome-driven measurement that’s tied to business goals.
And remember that not all numbers are created equal. For example, a far-reaching advertising/PR push to the wrong audience can increase your name recognition with that specific group but fail to convert that into a sales bump or a boost in credibility.
Align on the key audiences and desired outcomes during the planning phase to make the most of your investment in PR and marketing. This critical step in the planning process can result in most favorable ROI for PR efforts.
Review Your PR Strategy
Get in touch with one of B2’s PR experts to talk about how a properly planned PR campaign can help you achieve your PR objectives and reach your business goals. These conversations are the first step in a unified, evidence-based approach to recognizing what your investment in PR can yield.