PR professionals have long struggled to demonstrate the value of public relations to executive leaders. Most executives don’t understand PR all that well and many view it is “soft” or not critical to the business. It is not entirely their fault. Before the rise of the internet it was very difficult to measure and report on the effectiveness of PR. Fortunately, a lot has changed in the last few years and we can now solve the two biggest problems with PR measurement.
Problem #1: Measuring the Wrong Things
Without many other options, PR pros used measures that proved activity, but not necessarily value. A standard PR report might include things like:
- # of Press Releases
- # of Earned Media Mentions
- # of Press Pitches
- A list of content assets created
- # of Interviews Given
- Awards Received
- Events Attended
This sort of reporting proves that you’ve been busy, but it fails to establish any impact on business goals. If you want executives to understand why PR is important, it must be measured in terms of objectives that everyone agrees lead to better performance.
PR should be assessed based on its impact on metrics like:
- Search rankings
- Website traffic
- Lead conversion
- Social media engagement
- Ratings and reviews
- Customer retention
If you can talk about and measure PR in these terms, you’ll get a much better reception from the C-suite. You’ll also be able to make smarter decisions about which activities are worth your time.
So knowing what to measure leads us to:
Problem #2: Figuring Out How to Measure the Right Things
Before most buying and decision making moved online, it would have been basically impossible to measure the right things. If a buyer reads a positive media mention and then walks into a store, the two events will probably never be tied to each other. But these days, much of that action happens online.
PR measurement software solves the problem of measurement by applying sophisticated monitoring and analytic algorithms across the entire media landscape. By tying your website analytics to PR measurement technology, you absolutely can track that customer from the media mention, to your website, and throughout the buying cycle. The same can be done for other earned, owned, and social content. Was there a spike in traffic following a Tweet from an influencer? If so, you can establish an ROI for your influencer outreach efforts.
With the right PR technology in place, there’s nothing to keep modern PR pros from easily measuring the right things. Your credibility will improve significantly when you stop talking about outputs and start talking about outcomes.