8 Metrics That PR Professionals Must Track to Prove Success

Proving the value of public relations is difficult.

Everyone in the PR industry knows just how important they are to their clients or company, but communicating that worth to executives without the numbers to back it up will harm your case for PR.

Negotiating a PR budget is best done when supported by specific metrics. There’s a lot to keep track of with public relations campaigns, but PR analytics software streamlines processes and provides insights that help inform metrics.

Public relations is a labor-intensive industry. It involves many seemingly tedious tasks that are crucial to the industry such as tracking mentions, analyzing Tweets with social media management tools, or following every move of certain influencers. The more professionals can use automated tools to handle these tasks, the better.

The job of a PR professional is to ensure people know about the business they’re representing, and that people have an overall positive feeling about that business. Measuring a feeling someone has about something is tough, and becoming an expert at these measurements is even tougher.

Let’s dive into the most important PR metrics in the business that help all industry professionals prove their value.

8 crucial PR metrics

These are the eight most common public relations metrics that professionals in the industry use today. Together, these metrics will give the stakeholders the whole picture of success from a PR campaign. Remember to record measurements before goal-setting so that you can accurately establish your goals and predict how any campaign will improve upon the metrics previously measured.

8 PR metrics communications professionals must track to prove success

Website traffic

There are five different types of traffic that provide metrics. You can, of course, look at overall visitors, but the value really comes from breaking these visitors into separate categories.

Returning visitors

The rate at which old customers return to a website is crucial. Since PR focuses on building a solid reputation through earned media and paid engagements, people returning to a website after they’ve made a purchase is a major indicator of success.

If the number of return visitors is lower, try improving your content strategy. Create blog posts, podcasts, videos, and webinars to engage customers enough to keep them coming back. Return customers will become loyal customers, and then they can eventually become brand evangelists and tell others about the business.

New unique visitors

This number is especially important to prove the effectiveness of a PR campaign. For example, if a pitch goes through and your business is mentioned by a reputable news source, the number of new unique visitors should skyrocket.

SEO is also a major driver of new unique visitors. Once there’s a solid SEO plan in place, the PR team can sit back and watch the numbers tick upward.

Mobile visitors

The number of mobile visitors can tell PR professionals a lot about their clients or company. People who use mobile are usually on-the-go. They’re fast-movers. They want things laid out in a clear and efficient way. If people aren’t engaging with mobile or dropping off quickly, it means that the site isn’t accessible.

This could hurt the companies’ reputation and deter people from visiting their website. Be sure to fix the website immediately to ensure that everything functions smoothly and is accessible to all users.

Referrals

Referrals can come from different places. There are social media referrals that direct people to the company website from a social media advertisement or post, and then there are direct referrals where someone else sends the link to your page.

Both are good indicators that the PR campaign is working. If people are clicking the ad, that proves the value and placement of the advertisement, and if people are sending the website to friends, that shows they trust the brand.

Backlinks

Public relations is slowly becoming more intertwined with SEO. PR professionals can do outreach to obtain mentions on high-authority websites. These mentions then increase the overall SEO value and boost people’s ability to find the company’s website.

Obtaining coverage is a major focus in public relations, and now, in the digital age, this coverage gives backlinks. Not only is the PR team raising awareness, but they’re also improving the companies’ SEO strategy.

Mentions

Most PR professionals use media monitoring software to track specific keywords and topics. Sure, using Google Alerts can work, but it only shows you things on Google, and sometimes it even misses the Google keywords you’re tracking.

Here are the terms public relations professionals should track both the company they represent and the competitors:

  • Brand name(s)
  • Top executives
  • Nicknames
  • Common misspellings
  • Industry keywords

Tracking these things will give you a good idea of the public’s overall feeling about the company and help the PR team to course-correct if there’s a negative sentiment about the company. For example, if people are starting to talk about a particularly bad flight, the airline concerned can quickly reply to those affected, apologize, and offer something for their inconvenience. Doing this will help put out a flame before it becomes a full-blown fire, which ultimately improves the overall sentiment that will be reported up to management at the end of the half.

Share of voice

Share of voice is comparing clients’ mentions to those of competitors. Meaning, how many people are talking about your client versus your competitor.

An example of this is McDonald’s measuring how many times they’re mentioned compared to Wendy’s. Whichever fast-food giant has more mentions owns the share of voice (SOV) in the industry. Owning the SOV creates a major upper hand for a brand and can solidify their spot as an industry leader.

The media monitoring software mentioned above can automatically track SOV.

Message resonance 

This metric measures if people actually understood the message the PR team was trying to get across in messaging. If people aren’t really “getting it,” then the launch or campaign was not effective.

The best way to measure message resonance is by forming focus groups and sending out surveys. Although it can be time-consuming and costly to accurately measure message resonance, it’s crucial to make sure the same mistakes aren’t repeated, or to prove that the campaign really worked.

Impressions 

Calculating media impressions is a tactic that’s been in PR for a while now and it faces some hate. Put simply, impressions are any interaction anyone has with the represented client or the potential they have to interact with that content.

Impressions are not meant to be a true measurement of success since the number is slightly arbitrary. It’s really meant to be a starting point or a place to look at and say, “Look where we started 5 years ago, and now look how far we’ve gotten.”

Impressions are all about awareness and at the tippy top of the marketing funnel. Starting with general awareness, and funneling all the way down to a qualified sales lead. Since impressions are so widespread and differing, they’re most commonly used as a number to “wow” a group of people.

Engagement

Engagement is just what it sounds like, the number of people who click, play, open, or listen to the content a PR team puts out there.

The people who engage are potential customers. In order to measure engagement, be sure to set specific goals so that the campaign can be analyzed after as success or not. Impressions are the first step, and then engagement is the next step toward guiding people through the marketing funnel.

Show off your work 

It’s no fun to work if no one knows it’s been successful. By measuring these metrics, PR professionals can display their value to their clients or company. No one can make sales without being known or liked, and PR manages how to do just that.


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