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How to set measurable PR agency KPIs

By Mike Davies

Agreeing measurable KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) with your PR agency can mean the difference between success and failure.

Failing to be clear about deliverables and what constitutes success in a PR campaign will only lead to problems further down the line. When PR agencies and businesses misunderstood what the campaign wanted to achieve, both sides end up with wasted time, effort, and investment.

Going through the process of setting PR KPIs can be a difficult process for some agencies. That's because the way campaign success is measured across the PR industry is so varied. There is no industry standard or best practice of measuring success.

There are also many different ways to measure campaigns - from Advertising Value Equivalency to online presence and even backlinks. It can be difficult for a business to understand what success even looks like, never mind set targets against a campaign.

However, in the age of digital media, there are a few KPIs which every agency should be able to review and agree with you to ensure your campaign is getting the most out of the money you are investing.

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Examples of PR KPIs

1. PR must align with your sales and marketing objectives

Traditional PR has always sat in a silo when it comes to business communications.

For decades, agencies have pushed the idea that media coverage alone is enough to justify their existence as a business function, without ever being challenged on what that coverage is doing.

Getting your business in a trade magazine is a great ego boosting exercise, but if it doesn’t drive interest and prospects to your brand then what’s the point?

Digital PR, built around a philosophy of Paid, Owned and Earned media, can be aligned much more closely with your business’ marketing and sales activity, driving extra traffic and prospects to your website, and increasing the effectiveness of your Inbound Marketing and SEO efforts.


2. What are your business objectives for the year?

Figuring out your business objectives for the coming year - in terms of prospects and revenue - is the simplest way of figuring out KPIs with your PR agency.

Knowing your revenue targets means you can work out how many new customers you need to bring in. Assuming your business knows its conversion rate of prospects to customers, and your overall sales-cycle time, you can then work out how many new prospects you need in the next 12 months.

This information helps you work out how many leads your website needs to bring in and this can help your PR consultancy understand how many web visitors they need to attract through links in earned media coverage.

Agreeing these KPIs – which, crucially, are specific and measurable – means both sides know exactly what is expected for a campaign to be a success and can help to inform a detailed and strategic PR and content strategy along with monthly targets.


3. Results, not outputs

Another benefit of aligning your PR KPIs with your business’ objectives, is that your measurements become based on results rather than outputs – something many agencies fail to do.

Reporting on a certain number of press releases, articles, features and media comments a month can show impressive outputs but with no way of knowing their impact these KPIs are meaningless.

Setting targets on increasing web traffic, inbound links, referrals, qualified leads and sales is a much more effective and tangible tool for measuring PR success and also removes the opportunity for your PR agency to fluff their results or blind you with meaningless output figures.

Tangible KPIs, effective PR strategies, and digital measurement are the future of the PR industry. Ensuring your agency is capable of building their KPI and success factors around these metrics should be standard before you think about taking them on.

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