PR measurement has evolved. The question over how to measure the effect of Public Relations once dogged the sector for years. As a collective, the industry had often fallen behind other disciplines such as Marketing and SEO when proving Return of Investment (ROI) and how PR coverage ultimately benefitted businesses.

From measuring estimated circulation and audience figures to the dreaded Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) - PR measurement has stopped short when it comes to reporting back on its efforts.

However, PR has shifted over the past few years towards online and digital platforms, allowing agencies to use analytics platforms to track its efforts and success through metrics that directly effect the biggest sales tool that businesses have - the website.

It's not just about getting as many placements in one month any more. Understanding the difference between follow and no follow links, why high domain authority websites are important, and being able to identify increases in web traffic and referral traffic and how it correlates to PR activity is one of the biggest factors driving businesses to invest in PR. Agencies that can track the impact of PR on a website enables business leaders to see the entire buyer journey from awareness and engagement through to conversion and eventually sales. 

Understanding Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and the importance of online visibility is now a must for any modern Digital PR agency. Yet many agencies remain too slow to adapt to this change. A more transparent view of campaigns and efforts are needed if we are ever going to truly measure the success of PR.



Below, we answer 10 vital questions you need to ask to start accurately measuring your PR efforts:

1. What is PR measurement?
2. What's the difference between traditional and digital PR?
3. What PR metrics should I be measuring?
4. How does PR link building effect SEO?
5. How can I optimise my website for PR success?
6. Can I use Google Analytics to measure PR?
7. Is my PR campaign reaching the right people?
8. How do I measure brand awareness?
9. What does social media do for PR?
10. How can I get the most out of my PR content?


35 (1)

Did you know?

75% of comms professionals admit they must do a better job of measuring PR


Three quarters (75%) of comms professionals admitted that they must do a better job of measuring and pricing impact on business results from their campaigns - according to a survey by Cision - and 70% say they lack the data they need to measure success effectively.

Given the amount of data and statistics available, it is staggering that PR professionals say they don’t have the data they need to measure the impact of campaigns.

However, every PR campaign does need certain elements to track success and PR measurement has evolved a lot over the years - you can read more here about how to measure PR ROI and prove it to the board

Advisors service for PR measurement compressed
Download Now

The definitive guide to PR measurement

The inability to measure PR effectively can be a pain. However, using tools such as Google Analytics can help you overcome this situation. Analytical tools allows you to accurately measure the impact of your PR campaigns, putting your business on the right track to measure PR success!

Download Now

1. What is PR measurement?


Measuring PR is the way in which campaigns are tracked against metrics and KPIs to evaluate whether it was a success or a failure. Measuring the impact of PR campaigns can be difficult, however, with goals and objectives needing to be set out from the beginning in order to track progress.

There are also different formats to measure, such as traditional and digital media. “Traditional print media is dead!” a lot of people say these days. It's a phrase that has been said and repeated many times in the last decade, which has been spurred on as advertising revenue for print publications decline and readers shift to digital platforms.

However, reports of the demise of print media may have been exaggerated as there are still a number of print publications that have retained large, knowledgeable and loyal audiences.



Print, or “traditional” media, is still relevant in the modern media landscape and earned media coverage in print publications should not be dismissed.

Targeting a feature in a print publication a few months down the line is still beneficial and keeps your brand or spokesperson in front of your desired audience - the only difference is it’s hard, beyond having your name or business brand in a headline, to judge what the business benefits of this earned media coverage has been.

Print coverage is still typically measured in a more traditional way, which makes it hard to quantify, but you can generally measure some success of a PR campaign based on the kind of print coverage you achieve in targeted publications you know your target audience reads.

The different types of earned print media coverage - Leads, Downpages and News In Brief (NIB)



A lead story in a newspaper or magazine is usually the pinnacle of earned media coverage in print (especially if it’s a front page lead). Achieving a page lead means your likely to have more space on the page and a bigger voice within the story.


Still a good piece of earned media coverage but found below the fold and with less space than a lead story. Getting your story placed as a downpage in a national or trade title is still a great win.


While a news in brief is still a success (any little helps) these are generally short and snappy pieces on newspages and are often sought after to fill spaces on page templates with little or no advertising. Don’t turn your nose up at a NIB, but if this is all a PR consultancy is bringing you, you should probably ask a few questions.

Get seen online


76% of PR and comms

Did you know?

76% of PR and comms agencies now offer online reputation management


In the early days of digital media, getting a piece of coverage online was often assumed to be an easy win or not as challenging as getting print coverage, but as the journalism landscape has evolved to become digital first, print second getting your coverage online is just as challenging - if not more so as the benefits are more recognised.

The death of the traditional news cycle and the nature of 24/7 online news means opportunities come around a lot more, but the competition is fierce so producing an article or feature for an authoritative news website is much harder.

Getting your business featured on a website with a high domain authority with a follow link in the article is tremendously difficult, however it is also much more beneficial for your online visibility and forms a direct measurable link through SEO reporting.

Why do backlinks matter?

  • “The value of a link to your website from a major publisher can be enormous for your website’s ability to rank on page 1 of any search engine.”
    Dave Beesley Headshot compressed

    David Beesley

    Managing Director | ITPR

2. What's the difference between traditional and digital PR?


The last few decades have been an era of great change for media and PR as online news and digital first philosophies continue to race ahead of traditional print products and planned news cycles.

While print continues to have its place, no-one is going to baulk at a cover story in a respected newspaper or magazine - but the switch towards online journalism and PR is creating much more opportunity for businesses to make a measurable impact.

Much of this is driven by how we now consume media and there is no doubt that we are much more proactive in chasing the news we want to read, when we want to read it, rather than relying on tomorrow’s front page.

A report by comScore back in 2018 found that Google Search was the third biggest app in the UK – behind YouTube and Facebook.

90% of b2b

90% of B2B buyers start purchases with an online search



This shift towards online news has opened up opportunities for PR consultancies to prove their worth and that the campaigns they create are having a positive, measurable impact on a business’ reputation, visibility and, ultimately, the bottom line.

To try and justify investment in the past, PR professionals have come up with many metrics over the years, from obscure measurements developed in house, to the always to be avoided “advertising value equivalent”.


When it comes to modern day digital PR, being able to earn backlinks to a client’s website from news websites is a key trait to have. Creative and informative blogs are a great way of improving Google rankings and is something that any PR campaign should include as part of their programme - if not, they are missing a trick and doing their clients out of a valuable service.

Tools like Google Analytics mean evaluation and reporting can be much more detailed and better scrutinised and can stop your PR consultancy unjustly claiming that the work they are doing is making a difference to your business.

3. What PR metrics should I be measuring?


Measuring PR campaign success has always been a difficult thing to quantify, however there are some standard metrics your digital PR team should be looking at when evaluating press coverage. These are:


Domain Authority (DA)

Domain Authority is a measure (ranked from 1-100) that describes which websites have the most trusted information and are more likely to be ranked by search engines.

Mainstream news websites like the BBC or the Guardian, tech trade titles such as Computer Weekly, or business titles such as Forbes, along with government and university websites have the highest domain authority and therefore highest value to your business, while websites with no followed links sit towards the bottom of the list.


Followed Links

An earned follow link on a news website or blog essentially acts as an “endorsement” of your website and are used by search engines to assess the authority of websites. The more followed links you earn from respected and authoritative websites to your website, the more impact your PR campaign will have on SEO and search rankings.

Marking a link as “no follow” removes this endorsement, so use a tool like MOZ Bar to check which your target website offers.

4. How does PR link building effect SEO?

The fact that news websites are more likely to have higher Domain Authority – and therefore more SEO value when it comes to links – having a PR consultancy that understands the latest digital tactics and measurements can be extremely effective to you wider digital strategy.

Your PR consultancy should have strong relationships with journalists in their chosen industries, and therefore a route to gaining press coverage on those high domain authority news websites. In a digital world, these connections are paramount to getting your business in front of the target audience you want to reach.

Getting valuable links through PR is not easy, and issuing a press release to a dozen outlets and expecting to see articles, bylines and links roll in will leave you disappointed - instead you need to create content which the press will want to print, and then ensure you have additional content which adds extra value which a journalist will want to link back to. 

Your PR consultancy should be able to advise you on what media you should be targeting, across which channels and what kind of news or content will get the best results.

Pitching thought leadership content for both traditional PR goals and securing backlinks purposes can greatly increase the impact of a campaign. Focusing on a digital campaign is a much more effective long term communications strategy as the results have a longer lasting impact than a campaign aimed at traditional print titles.

Online media coverage will remain on the Internet forever, compare this to the short lifespan of print copy which most likely is recycled the next day.

Write for the media eBook compressed

Top tips to brief your PR Agency

Whether you are considering a change from your existing agency or engaging with a PR Consultancy for the first time, getting the brief right is vital to getting off on the right foot, laying the foundation for a successful partnership.  

Click here to download Now!

5. How can I optimise my website for PR success?

A digital PR consultancy might be able to drive more traffic to your website with an effective media campaign, but are you doing enough to take advantage of this increase in audience share?

Digital reporting of PR is an ideal way to inform your wider online or digital marketing strategy by giving you an insight into what a visitor does once they’ve landed on your website.

By reviewing the referral traffic from news websites or blogs where your coverage is appearing you can see if a user sticks around to check out other content on your website; completes a form or downloads an eBook/ report; or if they simply view one page and then leave.

If you have a high ‘bounce rate’ (i.e. a visitor lands on your website, stays for a moment then leaves) don’t fear, as bounce rates cannot be viewed in isolation. However, if you are consistently seeing high bounce rates from your referral traffic, it could suggest that you have a problem with your website content and/or design.


Your website needs to be user friendly and easy to navigate to engage your visitors.

But how?


To build a successful website, you need to ensure that you are optimising the website for keywords your business wants to rank for, as this can also help inform your PR strategy and wider content creation.

Seeing a rise of 200% in organic traffic driven by a successful PR campaign is all well and good, but seeing most of this audience disappear after a single page visit suggests you are wasting the efforts of your PR campaign.

Even straightforward measures like optimising your H1 page headers and page titles can help boost the effectiveness of your PR campaign.

Using our own website as an example, this shows the page titles created to rank for B2B PR Agency London and Tech PR - the two elements we want to rank for.


Pillar Page1 compressed


Similarly here with this example blog, the title is optimised to rank for data-driven PR measurement so this H1 fits the bill.


Pillar Page 2 compressed


Getting these elements of your website right will then help with your digital reporting and will help show if a company’s marketing messages are relevant for search, or if they are just industry jargon that no-one is looking for – and therefore useless for an SEO and digital PR strategy.

Show the effects of your PR efforts to your boss: find out how to impress your boss with data-driven effective PR measurement.

6. Can I use Google Analytics to measure PR?


Part of effectively measuring your digital PR campaigns is to set up tracking goals in Google.

It is vital that at the beginning of any digital PR campaign you need to establish clear goals/ objectives. Knowing and agreeing on the goals of the campaign and what your business is measuring as a ‘success’ is imperative to defining success and should never be overlooked.

Seeing your name or your company’s name online is one thing, but what exactly is that doing for your business? Setting measurable goals should be actively encouraged by your PR consultancy and is something an effective consultancy can work with you to set up. But what exactly is a goal in the context of a digital PR campaign?

According to Google, a goal measures how good your site is at fulfilling your objectives, whether that’s getting visitors to download a piece of content or contacting you.

By setting up goals as part of your digital PR measurement, you can establish how well your business is doing at converting that newly acquired PR coverage into tangible business benefits.

There are four basic goal types you should look to measure as recommended by The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR):

  1. Destination goals – Getting visitors to a particular page on your site
  2. Time on site – This is one measure of an ‘engagement goal’ is pretty self-explanatory
  3. Number of pages visited per session – Another engagement goal and is a way of measuring whether your visitors are exploring your website for information or simply leaving after that initial click through
  4. Event goal -  This metric can measure the general behaviour of your visitors e.g. are they watching any videos or downloading a report?

Looking for ideas on setting KPIs? See here how you can set measurable KPIs with your PR consultancy.

7. Is my PR campaign reaching the right people?

Measuring goals is an effective way of reviewing your PR consultancy performance and whether the campaign is getting your business in front of your target audience. 

If you’re seeing a consistent spike in web traffic throughout a PR campaign, but little to no conversions it could suggest the audience your attracting isn’t the right audience and perhaps it’s a good time to review your digital PR strategy.

Is the PR content you’re producing relevant to the audiences you’re targeting? Are the publications you’re aiming for being read by the kind of audience who could be interested in doing business with you?

If not, then it is definitely time to review your PR strategy and refocus your efforts on a different media vertical.

Setting up goals and effective reporting can also give you insight into how much each website page is contributing to the overall ROI of your PR campaign.

Measuring exactly which pages are contributing to your business’ ROI enables you to report on the success of individual campaigns, which then informs the direction of future campaigns or individual content assets. This is giving you measurable outcomes and allowing you to hone your campaign based on results, not gut feel or questionable metrics.

Looking to gain more success at trade shows? Our blog post here gives you all the info you need on getting the most out of and measuring the results of a PR trade show

8. How do I measure brand awareness?

When it comes to social media measurement, key metrics to measure are pretty obvious in the sense of followers. Another great metric which digital PR consultancies can review – which traditional PR measurement cannot – is how your PR campaigns or your business’ activities impact your reputation on social media.

This can be as simple as measuring the number of followers you have (or who is following you), whether you are getting likes, comments and re-tweets for the content you publish, or checking the number of mentions your business gets; and the sentiment of those mentions – either positive or negative.

The PR aspect of your social media should be measured on the type of conversations your business or brand appears in, and what social communities within your industry are saying.

One metric to measure whether PR is impacting social media is by asking your PR consultancy if the number of followers or positive mentions on your social media channels have increased during the timeframe of your PR campaign.

If the answer is yes, then you know PR is working.

Find out here why Inbound is the best approach to PR.

Similarly, if your brand becomes subject to negative news attention on social media, a key metric to establishing whether your crisis communications strategy is working is how quickly those negative communications and interactions on social media give way to more positive responses.

9. What does social media do for PR?

Using social media in a digital PR strategy can improve relationships between a brand and its customers as well as the media within its industry. Find out here how to amplify and promote a piece of coverage

Much of online journalism is about scouring social media, looking for developing trends, interesting insights and making new contacts.

An interesting thread about a new development within an industry can easily be picked up by a curious journalist and the people they are most likely to contact are those already involved in the conversation.

Using social media monitoring as part of your PR campaign - like those which journalists use themselves - means you are always aware of what the latest topic of conversation is in your industry and can quickly react with your own content.

Being able to identify and influence conversations quickly, rather than trying to impact it later, greatly improves your chances of being considered a thought leader and getting in front of the media at the same time.

For PR you can also measure how often your business is mentioned in social media ‘threads’ and in what context or within which topics. Many of today’s negative headlines are now created by threads, comments and actions made on social media and the instant nature of platforms like Twitter mean that if you don’t react to negative comments quickly, you may never be able to get above the noise and your business’ reputation is permanently damaged.

Social media PR also enables you to break away from the traditional media and identify other online influencers who may be interested in your business and content. Using social media to identify and contact these influencers directly allows you to bypass the traditional gatekeepers of old school media and communicate with audiences directly.

10. How can I get the most out of my PR content?

A key metric in PR measurement is how hard your content is working for you and the business. Writing a single thought leadership article or whitepaper is fine if you only want limited exposure, but a well-oiled PR machine needs to be constantly fed content.

Writing multiple variations of content and getting them finalised can take a long time - and in the media, news changes fast. The key then, is to get the most possible reach – across multiple platforms – using a single content item in a slightly different format.

For example, taking the longest form of content - such as a whitepaper, an eBook or even an advertorial - and using this as the starting point of a thought leadership article that can be used to pitch to the media. These pieces can then be reused and repurposed further into blogs, tweets and other social posts – covering your owned, earned and paid media in one go.

The benefits to this are threefold:

Keeping the message on point:

Keeping the message on point: Creating content from scratch from different subject experts can often lead to confused or mixed messages. Using a single piece of content as a base means the message will always stay the same and ensure the things you’re measuring stay consistent.

Spread your message across different platforms:

The benefit is being able to play the same message across different audiences and platforms. For example, a white paper sent out on an email marketing campaign can hit one audience, while an opinion article based on the same content placed in a vertical-focused publication can help reach another.

Measuring what messages are getting the most pick up on different platforms means you can be smarter with your content targeting and get the best results.

Make the most of your content:

Traditionally, white papers and blogs get posted on a website and left to do their job. In the same vein, too much PR material is written and pitched out and never used within the wider marketing strategy. Repurposing content over numerous platforms and measuring which has most success means you can create more effective campaigns further down the road.

If you’re looking for more top tips on how to measure your PR campaign effectively, download our eBook below:

New call-to-action