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Measuring B2B PR: How Do You Measure Campaigns in 2024?

By David Beesley

Measuring B2B PR: How Do You Measure Campaigns in 2024?

In 2024, with all the analytical tools available, it was concerning to read that almost half of European-based PR professionals (46%) still cannot measure impact effectively according to the 2024 PR Week/Cision Global Comms Report. The significance of measuring PR effectively, highlighted in the 2024 PR Week/Cision Global Comms Report, underlines the challenges faced in the industry.

Worryingly, it has risen steadily since 2021 when it was a top concern for a third (33%) of PR professionals in Europe. This trend points to the growing importance of effectively measuring the impact of public relations.

What is even worse is that a whopping 70% of European PR professionals said that they struggle to measure the impact of earned media in a way that can be easily proved. This makes for uncomfortable reading when we consider the length we go to prove the impact of our campaigns.

I’ve written before about the importance of measuring B2B PR Campaigns correctly but given these recent results, I wanted to offer up some free advice in the hope that we can all make improvements that allow us to measure PR campaigns better.

Whether your campaign involves one of all of the Paid, Earned, Shared or Owned channels - there are industry frameworks that can help to measure and prove impact.

PR Measurement Frameworks and Tools

The Barcelona Principles 3.0 is the perfect starting point when deciding how to measure the impact of PR. Not least because they explain that Advertising Value Equivalents are not the value of communication. By incorporating essential PR metrics such as outputs, out-takes, and outcomes, these principles guide us in determining the real value of PR campaigns by focusing on measuring outcomes directly against organisational objectives, rather than relying on flawed approaches like incorrectly using outputs and out-takes as key performance indicators or as a basis for calculating return on investment.

By adopting these principles you will be taking your first step to determine real value from PR campaigns - and I would argue that any PR partner worth their fee should be following these principles.

As with any campaign or business activity, the planning phase is key to ensure that you have buy-in from key stakeholders - a PR campaign is no different. The business leader must be aware of how you are measuring PR impact and be in agreement with how you are delivering value to the business.

This is crucially important in 2024 as supported by the results in the PR Week/ Cision Global Comms report, which states that CEOs expect the comms function to directly impact the business and bottom line.

To operationalise the Barcelona Principles the use of PR measurement tools is essential. These tools, such as Cision, Critical Mention, Meltwater, Muck Rack, Onclusive, and Memo (to name a few) integrate with marketing and sales technologies like marketing automation platforms, CRMs, Google Analytics, and social media management tools, enabling a comprehensive approach to measuring PR's impact.

Effective planning of a PR campaign

To help achieve this buy-in and to demonstrate strategic planning it is recommended to use the Integrated Evaluation Framework provided by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication. This framework focuses the mind and provides a template for a communications campaign that you can use to demonstrate and then agree on the intended impact and value.

Every PR campaign will require certain tactics and deliverables to track success, and by planning these from the outset they can used at the end of the campaign to measure PR ROI and prove its effectiveness to key stakeholders - e.g. a CEO or board members.

The Integrated Evaluations Framework shows how to ‘operationalise’ the Barcelona Principles, turning them into action, and proving the value of PR in a meaningful and credible manner.

Measurement and PR have, historically, had an uneasy relationship and as a consequence, PR has fallen behind the likes of Marketing and SEO when it comes to proving its success - so we have to work even harder to regain credibility.

The PR Week/ Cision Global Comms report is not all doom and gloom however, 45% said that analytics and reporting is their top priority for 2024, alongside media outreach/influencer management (41%) and content creation (40%).

It is also encouraging to note that in Europe, we are more committed to having a dedicated data analyst on our teams (79%), than in the US (32%). This perhaps shows a discrepancy between how value is demonstrated in each region and the priority given to having robust data analytics.

Strategic planning and analytics play a crucial role in informing and benchmarking future PR campaigns, ensuring that each campaign is more informed and effective than the last.

Using Analytics to measure the impact of PR

The level of analytical software available now, including media monitoring tools, provides the ability to track success by applying metrics such as the number of followed links secured from high domain authority websites, increases in web traffic, and measuring the effectiveness of PR campaigns through media mentions and public relations metrics. Utilising a media monitoring tool is important if you want to assess the impact and success of your PR campaigns.

Google Analytics (GA), in conjunction with your website Content Management System (CMS) can also be used to measure the impact of PR campaigns. New tools which allow for social media monitoring can also be built into your PR campaign measurement tactics, tracking impact through engagement and sentiment.

Despite the evolution of PR measurement software, many agencies remain unable to provide a transparent view of their campaigns. There is no longer any reason for PR professionals not to provide, or request access to campaign data to measure the impact - whether access is granted is a debate for another time.

Measuring Digital PR Campaigns

When it comes to digital PR, targeting high domain authority websites to earn backlinks to a website using creative and informative content is a great way of improving Google rankings and web traffic. Incorporating PR efforts in this strategy not only enhances the overall success of digital PR campaigns but also ensures a more comprehensive approach to building an online presence.

Media monitoring tools play a crucial role in measuring the success of digital PR campaigns across various online platforms, providing real-time alerts and insights into how content is being received and shared.

Data drawn from GA and your CMS allow standard metrics to be applied to a digital PR campaign that your team should consider when evaluating impact. For example:

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.

News websites like the BBC, the Guardian, trade-specific or business titles, along with government and university websites have the highest domain authority and therefore the highest value to your business.

Followed Links

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

Although still valuable in directing readers to the website, ‘no follow’ links don’t provide any SEO benefit to your website. The challenge here is that many publications know the value of ‘do follow’ links, and therefore charge to have them included on their website/ in their stories. Therefore, if this is a key metric to determining the success of a campaign, then it needs budget allocating to it as part of a paid media tactic. 

Referral Traffic

Once you’ve earned a link back to your website from a website with a high Domain Authority - the next step is being able to identify if visitors are actually coming to the website as a result.

A quick search in GA or your CMS can show you if visitors came to your website from a piece of earned media coverage. Plus, by checking when they travelled to the website, you can begin to assign value to certain campaigns and pieces of content to further improve the PR programme.

Changing the way PR is measured and valued

Armed with data and analytics, our vision at ITPR is to change the way B2B tech PR is perceived, measured, and valued, proving that PR can have a direct impact on business growth through the effective use of PR metrics that transform the perception and value of public relations.

The development of a comprehensive PR program and a strategic PR strategy is crucial in achieving meaningful PR outcomes and aligning PR efforts with broader business objectives, ensuring that every PR campaign drives more than just media visibility but contributes significantly to the business goals.

Using the frameworks and the tactics outlined above, you can begin to connect the dots between your PR activity and the wider communication and business objectives.

Large-scale digital campaigns can be traced back to an increase in organic web traffic and new leads created, while a strategic backlinking programme can have a big impact in boosting website Domain Authority.

And it will benefit the bottom line too. 2024 marketing stats revealed that 67% of B2B buyers start their purchase journey online, so providing data-based insight into how digital PR is increasing website visitors and boosting the visibility in search results puts PR back on a level playing field with Marketing and Sales.

PR teams have to use the tools and strategies at their disposal to demonstrate the value of their PR efforts, ensuring that every campaign is measured for its impact and contribution to the brand's success.

When reaching out to your next PR agency, make sure they explain how they measure the impact of their efforts. Do they simply measure the number of clippings per month? Or can they demonstrate a tangible impact on the website?

Still thirsty for more? Download our Definitive Guide to PR Measurement and start to track the impact of your PR campaign. 

Tags: News, PR, Digital PR, ITPR