PR Metrics that Mean Something

PR MetricsWhen defining goals and success for your PR campaigns, which metrics do you track? How do you measure your effectiveness?

Every company and campaign is different, and not every metric will make sense for every single campaign you run for yourself or your clients. Rather, it’s about choosing the right PR metrics to accurately measure success that ultimately lead to sales.

Organizations such as #SMMStandardsInstitute for Public Relations, and Barcelona Principles have all identified a list of things we should measure, but these items seem to have been created in a vacuum. The organizations come close, but they’re still missing the end goal of showing that PR is an investment and not an expense.

Our job is to not only measure our efforts, but to move PR from the expense side of the P&L to the profit side. To do that, we have to look at a fully integrated PESO model (paid, earned, shared, and owned media) and determine how our efforts are best meeting the goals of the organization.

Paid Media Metrics

When you hear paid media, your mind might immediately point to advertising, but as a PR tactic, it can help you drive leads and conversions.

The success of a paid media campaign can be measured using the following:

  • Social Media Marketing. Nearly every platform you use to reach an audience has integrated analytics and advertising to help you gauge effectiveness—and amplify it with paid media. The important metric is whether or not people are clicking through your tweets and Facebook posts and if they are, what’s the correlation between the clicks and buys? Are they converting into leads and sales?
  • Email Marketing. When it comes to marketing, people, in general, love to hate email. But it’s one of the most effective communication tools, if used well. Create original, informative, helpful content to distribute to those who’ve entrusted you with a path to their inbox and you’ll find it’s very easy to measure whether or not people are clicking and buying. When it comes to lead generation, nurturing, and converting, email is still stealthy leader.

Earned Media Metrics

Earned media is just as important as paid media, if not more, simply because of the credibility factor. With earned media, you garner results from relationships you earn with influencers, journalists, and bloggers.

Measuring your efforts comes down to three metrics:

  • Media, blogger, and influencer scoring. Not all earned results are created equal. Every client and campaign will have different priorities, so it’s important to assign value to everyone on your media list—for every campaign. While The New York Times may have a higher value for a national campaign, Chicago’s Daily Herald may have a higher value for a specialized, local campaign. The same goes for working with influencers. You may be tempted to only want to work with the influencer who has 100,000 followers versus one with 1,000 or 100. Pause to think about the actual clout and trust they’ve garnered with their respective audiences. It may be the influencer with 100,000 followers can only incentivize one percent of their audience, where the one with the 1,000 followers can incentivize 20 percent. Who’s a more valuable target now? As you’re identifying media targets, evaluate them on these factors: Direct influence on your customer, reach or circulation, and the ability to drive leads.
  • Web performance. When was the last time you really looked at your Google Analytics? This free tool provides a plethora of information to help you measure the effectiveness of your earned media outreach. The most important metrics to track are how much traffic a story sent to your site and what those people did while once they got there. Did they download a piece of content or subscribe to your blog (so now you have their email address) or did they come and leave immediately? Answering these questions will both show you which influencers are best for your organization and how earned media is driving sales.
  • New audiences. At the top of the marketing funnel are the audiences and loyal fans brands have; the people who are becoming aware of the brand via all of its communications. These audiences come from the addressable markets that a brand can potentially serve, and it’s the job of public relations and advertising to build those audiences and to identify and cultivate those loyal fans of your brand. Track your new audiences through unique visitors to the website and quantify their value. Once audience value is quantified, the ROI of PR is computable in real dollars and cents.

Shared Media Metrics

Your accounts on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are not owned. These are distribution channels and their algorithms change daily. Without owned media, such as a website, blog, or publication, your content efforts will sizzle the second these rental spaces disappear. But they’re still very important for promotion, publicity, and amplification.

Consider the following shared media metrics:

  • Social media advertising. Think particularly about Facebook and LinkedIn advertising. Both have the potential to drive both leads and conversions…and it’s incredibly easy to track effectiveness. Did someone click and then move to your call-to-action? If they did, you likely have a great ROI. If they didn’t, you have some work to do.
  • Influencer relations or brand ambassadors. The Barcelona Principles I mentioned earlier suggest we increase our brand advocates each quarter. This is a good metric if they are doing something (you don’t just have more ambassadors). During the book launch for Spin Sucks, we took a long, hard look at how many of the 150 ambassadors actually did something. Did they post a review? Did they share with their social networks? Did they write a blog post? Did they use their media relationships to get a review in a more traditional way? Did they podcast about it? We found about 50 percent did one (or all) of those things. Not a bad return-on-investment.
  • Rating system. Just like you can attach a score to your earned media, you can do the same for your social media updates and shares. Assign a point system to your efforts. For instance, likes are one point, comments are five points, and shares are ten points. Then you can assigns points to each social network.
  • Unique URLs. Create unique URLs to landing pages, coupons, discount codes, or even telephone numbers so Google tracks effectiveness right in Analytics. All you have to do, after you begin a campaign, is open Analytics, go to Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns. Your unique URLs will show up there and you can track how many people came from a specific link and what they did.

Owned Media Metrics

Paid media increases your reach, earned media increases awareness, and shared media increases distribution. However, none of these metrics really make a difference without owned media.

It is incredibly important for you to do marketing that stems from your website or blog. This is the only true way to be able to measure effectiveness. Some of the owned media metrics include:

  • Email marketing. Yes, email marketing is back. There is no better way to get new leads and conversions than a successful email marketing campaign. When it comes to owned media, you can measure downloads, shares, and potential referrals.
  • Social media shares. While pure follower counts on social networks aren’t effective PR metrics, social shares matter because they provide social proof. Think about the last time you read an article online, and noticed the social media shares were low or nonexistent. Did it change the way you thought about the article? Which brings me to…
  • Vanity metrics. There’s no getting around it. Your clients will care about the vanity metrics, because they’re the common denominator. They’re easy to understand at first glance. “Why do we only have 3,000 followers when our competitor has 5,000?” This is where, as PR professionals, we need to educate our clients. We can’t just say “No, those metrics don’t matter.” It’s up to us to show the business leaders why vanity metrics alone don’t define success, and inform them on how we actually measure success—effectively.
  • Community. An engaged community drives sales. At Spin Sucks, we track the effectiveness of our community through book sales, speaking engagement recommendations, client referrals, and paid webinar or online course attendees. We’ve effectively replicated the success of community for our clients, as well. The key thing about community is authenticity. Build a true community with a value exchange and show your members you care about them on the 364 days you don’t need them to make a purchase. You’d be surprised what a difference it makes.

There are, of course, many other metrics that help you define the effectiveness of your PESO integration, but this list will give you a good kick in the butt to get started. The important thing is to measure your efforts effectively, keeping the goals of each individual campaign in mind.

Gini DGini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.