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Impress your boss with data-driven effective PR measurement

By Mike Davies

Measurement and evaluation has always been the Achilles heel of the PR industry, especially when it comes to the C Suite and marketing managers trying to justify why they have spent their budget with an agency which, while accumulating a healthy amount of coverage, has failed to prove what all this media attention has actually done for the business.

One of the reasons effective PR reporting is so difficult is because, as of yet, there is no industry reporting standard so there has developed an entire array of measurement types and conventions which agencies use to try and justify what they do.

Another reason so many PR agencies struggle on measurement is because the things they consider to be important are irrelevant to directors and senior executives who want to see tangible results.

 Measuring media impressions for example is one thing many PR agencies still focus on, but this has a number of flaws:

  • One – No matter how well read the newspaper, magazine or website is not every reader is going to read or even see the article your business appears in – let alone see your business’ name in the article.
  • Two – There is no guarantee that the people who read the article are your target audience in the first place.

Other agencies focus purely on the number of clippings gained during a campaign. Seeing your name flashed across a newspaper article or on TV news might be a big boost to your ego but, again, what is that doing for your business’ bottom line?

Some agencies even still focus on the outdated and ridiculous notion of Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) – the only thing to say about these agencies is that they should be avoided at all costs.


Modern and effective PR measurement

Modern PR measurement is data-driven, using analytics and actionable insights to show exactly how your PR activity has impacted your audience and helped your business, but also helps to inform future activity and potential changes to your wider marketing activities or even your website.

 As a marketing manager, if you really want to impress your boss with the results of a PR campaign, these are the key topics you should be referencing:

  • Increases in web traffic: Modern Inbound PR revolves around getting prospects to your website by gaining earned media coverage in target online media with links to your company within the article. A successful Inbound PR campaign should result in a boost in your company’s web traffic.
  • Inbound links: Similar to increases in web traffic, getting valuable links from authoritative websites (whether this is trade, national and even regional websites or well-known blogs) will boost your own site’s SEO and get you higher up the Google rankings and make you more likely to be found by prospects.
  • Referral traffic: How much of your web traffic is coming from earned media links or your organic or paid social media efforts? Traditional PR agencies have no way of telling you this important information, but Inbound PR based on an earned, owned, paid and shared strategy can tell you exactly where your new web traffic is coming from and inform your future PR and marketing efforts.


With paid media, advertising campaigns can also help promote coverage to a wider audience.

For example, you could consider creating a sponsored post on LinkedIn which links to the coverage. The benefit of this is that you can specifically target a group of people that the coverage may not have initially reached, but who you think might be interested in reading it, such as an article on GDPR aimed at marketing managers and CEOs at advertising companies.

Even if you’ve already earned your coverage and amplified it through your owned media channels, it’s always useful to explore paid options to see if there might be even more value that can be squeezed from the coverage.


Digging into the data

Effective PR reporting is all about data, but taking this a step further, modern Inbound PR agencies will be able to take your PR results data a step further and measure goal conversions and how many web visitors – brought to a website through inbound links – have been turned into qualified leads or customers.

By integrated Inbound PR measurement alongside your wider Inbound marketing reports you will be able to prove full ROI of your earned, owned, paid and shared PR activity by tying outcomes of activity to the bottom line.

To be truly beneficial, PR measurement needs to be aligned with your wider marketing and sales activity, ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

The days when PR agencies could fluff their campaign results and marketing managers could blag some budget for activities which proved no value are long gone.

The future of PR measurement is completely data-driven and agencies need to become more digitally minded if they want to survive.


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