Chances are that you are reporting on some kinds of PR metrics. If you are like most of the PR pros we talk to, you are tracking impressions, mentions, share of voice, and maybe even AVE (advertising value equivalency). That’s all well and good. (Except AVE. AVE is really terrible.) But those metrics are all about quantity, not value. They give you insight into how active you have been, but not a clue as to how effective. If you really want to know what kind of impact your PR efforts are having on the brand, these are five critical metrics to track.
PR Driven Website Traffic
“Impressions” are easy to calculate and can seem really impressive. The total reach of every mention and social post can give you big numbers that may make executives happy, but it isn’t really meaningful unless it inspires action. A much better PR metric is the amount of website traffic that can be directly attributed to PR. This doesn’t just tell you that your message is getting out there, it tells you that it is working.
Key Message Pull Through
Like impressions, share of voice (the percentage of all online content and conversations about your company, compared against those of your competitors) is another quantity metric without much meaning. Who cares if the industry press is all about you if it isn’t good news? What’s much more important than the amount of coverage is the content of that coverage. Are your most important themes making it into the mention? Which ones seem to resonate most? This is how you will know that your pitches are landing.
If someone follows your brand on social media there’s a good chance that they have a positive view or at least find your content useful. That’s great. If someone interacts with your social content by commenting or sharing it, they help amplify your message and do some of your work for you. That’s powerful. By measuring social interaction, you get a better understanding of whether your audience is just passive, or active and engaged.
Page Rank and Authority
One of the most important benefits of PR, especially earned media, is improved search rank and page authority. Improving your position on organic search is a force multiplier for all of your PR, marketing, and advertising efforts. While you might not be able to tie an improved rank for a keyword to a specific media mention, you should be able to see positive trends over time.
Ultimately executives need to know that their investment in PR is generating positive returns. If you can prove that PR is directly or indirectly increasing revenue, you can justify the investment and even argue for a bigger one. All of the other metrics on this list can be used to get a complete picture of ROI.
With today’s technology and the way people interact with brands these days, it is possible to measure PR more precisely than ever before. If your executive teams aren’t asking for these kinds of metrics now, you should expect that they will be soon. The good news is that in addition to measuring your impact, these metrics can help guide your efforts to make an even bigger one.