How do you know whether your PR campaign is working and is ultimately successful? You can use old-fashioned techniques like counting your clips, assuming that a pile of press hits automatically translates into new business for your client,  or calculating advertising impressions using outdated formulas but those are certainly not the most effective ways to measure the value of your work. The first step in gauging effectiveness is understanding what you’re trying to achieve. What is the business goal? Who are the audiences you need to reach in order to accomplish that?  What is the best way to do that?  

As you contemplate your PR program, it’s important to think about how you’ll assess your work each week, month, quarter, or year.  Embedded in your thinking should be a set of SMART goals, which will help you evaluate your success:

  • Specific. For example, the number of hits in a target set, interviews, bylines, analyst briefings, or impressions
  • Measurable metrics that you can track such as social shares, or web visits
  • Achievable results that the team can attain while still being challenging
  • Relevant s that take into account your team’s ability and potential obstacles
  • Time-bound that have a start and end date

PR success can be measured in terms of outputs, outtakes, outcomes and impacts. Let’s dive into these four metrics and some campaign evaluation examples with accompanying KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).  A few standard PR KPIs include:

  • Media impressions
  • Key message inclusion
  • Target media secured
  • Share of voice
  • Share of search
  • Web traffic
  • Social media engagement
  • Brand awareness

Outputs: What is Produced

[Number of press releases, hits, blog posts, impressions, analyst meetings)

Your outputs are the messages you create and share with your audience. They can be press releases, articles, blog posts, briefings, interviews, or decks. This is one of the easiest metrics to measure because you deal with countable items.

Content

The simplest way to measure your outputs is with a tally. How many press releases did your campaign produce? How many blog posts covered a specific event? How many interviews did you perform and share?

Outlets

Another easily tracked metric is noting which media outlets in comparison to your target list.

Media Impressions

Impressions are a comprehensive calculation of the number of people who have heard about your company within a given time period. For instance, if your company or product was mentioned on a television show that had one million viewers, that would count as one million media impressions. You can track  impressions on tools like Cision or Meltwater. 

Outtakes: What the Audience Understands

How audiences respond to our  outputs tells us what they think or feel as a result. Not as easy to track as number of clips or impressions since it’s more conceptual than numerical. However, you should still strive for this information in order to know if your message is getting through to those who matter.

Share of Voice

Share of voice is one metric that a tool like Meltwater can measure. That is, how much of your audience is talking about your brand in comparison to others in the space.  In order to get a full picture, it’s best to take a snapshot at the beginning of your campaign and again after a few months to see whether you’ve had any impact.  

Audience Feedback

Finally, surveying your customers is another way to determine how they feel, or what they think.   This also requires a baseline measurement taken at the beginning of your engagement and then another one later  in order to measure any change. 

Outcomes: How the Audience Responds

Does your PR actually motivate an action?  For example, does your target audience go to your website to learn more, do they begin following your company or executives on social media, or do they share the article with others? These actions are all trackable or measurable.

Social Media Followers and Interactions

One way to know if the PR is working is to measure whether your follower count has increased during a PR campaign. You can also track shares, comments, and other forms of engagement.

Web Traffic

If your client gives you access to their Google Analytics, you will be able to tell where your web traffic has come from.  For instance, did the story on your company that ran in last week’s New York Times motivate traffic to your website? Did your press release attract visitors? Are those visitors engaging on the website by filling out forms or purchasing products?

Impacts: How Your Business is Affected

Business impact is the most challenging metric because it depends on so many factors in addition to PR. While good PR can enhance that outcome, in most cases, PR works in tandem with other marketing channels including advertising and SEO.

Expectations

PR can enhance your brand’s image, tell (and sell) your brand message to your prospects through data or third party testimony, even generate leads by motivating readers to click links back to your company’s website, but PR on its own cannot be expected to generate sales.  If sales happen as a result of a great PR story, great, but PR campaigns cannot be measured based on sales generated purely as a result of publicity. It’s important to keep in mind that if you are just starting out, your PR campaign can take between three to six months to generate measurable results and impact. 

Contact us to learn how we can help you increase the impact of your PR campaign.