Gini Dietrich

How to Effectively Measure PR, Part One

By: Gini Dietrich | November 16, 2016 | 

Measure PrYesterday, we had a good little chat about PR metrics and the five things you should include in every communications program.

Today (and tomorrow), I’d like to spend some time talking about how to effectively measure PR.

Yes, you do need to go into your Google Analytics account, your CRM, and your marketing automation tools.

You also will need to set up reports to track the metrics we discussed yesterday.

But first and foremost, you want to get your benchmarks in place to provide context for those metrics and effectively measure PR.

Why to Set Benchmarks

Benchmarks are the key to:

  • Setting expectations;
  • Setting goals;
  • Optimizing performance; and
  • Ultimately getting better PR results.

Put simply, you cannot know where you’re going until you know where you’re starting.

Benchmarks are documentation of those starting points.

For those of you who imagined hiring a management consultant who would then give you all of the information and data you need, never fear!

None of that is necessary.

You can keep your PR benchmarks very simple.

Let me give you an example:

In 2010, we hired a marketing resident to help us grow this very blog.

We had ZERO idea what kind of growth to expect because we hadn’t tracked anything, at that point.

So we set 75-day goals and we got to work (75 days because the resident was with us only 90 days and we wanted to have a little time at the end to set real goals).

This is what they looked like:

Spin Sucks Benchmarks

There are two things wrong with these benchmarks:

  1. They are all vanity metrics; and
  2. Revenue isn’t mentioned anywhere.

But, it gave us a starting point, allowed us to set goals for 75 days and get to work.

We didn’t overthink it; we simply looked at where we were in May of 2010 and where we wanted to go.

And you can see we crushed most of them.

After the 75 days, we were able to look at what we’d accomplished and set real goals (and add in revenue).

How to Set Benchmarks

Two very important benchmarks you want to set upfront are:

  1. Your website or blog’s domain authority; and
  2. Your Google rankings on key search terms.

To find your domain authority, go to Open Site Explorer tool and enter your URL.

It’s important to note these rankings adjust slowly, updating only once or twice per month.

You are not going to see overnight results here, but it is very important to benchmark where you are right now.

If you are going to set a goal for three months or less, I recommend you set it between three and six points higher than it is right now.

Then take a look at where your Google rankings are for your top 10 priority keywords.

For instance, we want to rank for “PR metrics” and the blog post I wrote yesterday has that keyword, though it’s not yet on the first page of results.

However, two other blog posts are—in the fourth and fifth spots.

My benchmark, then, for PR metrics is four and five…with a goal to increase those to one and two.

Setting your benchmarks, and understanding what it takes to attain them is a foundational part of proving you can measure PR.

Measure PR By Asking, What’s Not Working?

Now that you have your key benchmarks set, it’s time to take a look at what’s not working.

This is often an uncomfortable and unpleasant activity for many people, but it really shouldn’t be.

It’s important to look at our failures with as much pride and gusto as we do the wins.

There is so much to be learned.

Let’s say you tried really hard to get featured in Product Hunt, but it didn’t happen.

Ask yourself:

  • Why didn’t it work?
  • Is there a lesson that can apply to getting in the New York Times or your leading industry blog?
  • Why didn’t you win any awards that you applied for last year? It’s (hopefully) not because your product sucks.
  • Are your award applications being written in a way that’s positioning you poorly against other applicants?
  • Are you submitting for awards you’re not qualified for?

Look at all the ways you’ve tried to achieve your PR goals, but failed, and ask why.

You do this in every other area of your business—why are you not doing this in PR?

Speaking of something you do in all the other area of your business, but not in PR…tomorrow we’ll get into how to work through the obstacles and actually prove your worth.

By the end of this week, you’ll have a great foundation on how to measure PR as you go into 2017.

Until then, what questions do you have?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini 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. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • just curious.

    so you didn’t start with ‘we have X clients and our goal is Y clients’? and then replace clients with revenue, profits, bears wins before discussing the other baselines?

    you have come a long way

    • Nope. We didn’t. Because it was the blog and we had NO idea if it could or would drive revenue.

  • Suzy Chisholm

    Ha! I thought you had this topic covered – to the 9th degree so to speak. But look at that, you had me glued right to the end. Just today we decided to book a huge poster space around the only really visited location in this town – approx. 12 million contacts within the 4 week period. So how do we measure whether or not this rather expensive endeavor has a ROI? I have now decided to set the PA for the noted website as a reference. We are currently at 1. It really can only get better. And then of course if I am so lucky as to get the eyeballs looking at our site: bounce rate, page views and visits. Does that sound reasonable?

    • It does sound reasonable. I can also show you some other ways to make it work when I see you.

  • paulakiger

    Kind of a micro question but it was prompted by this post. When we’re at the Open Site Explorer and the spam score includes the factor of “large number of external links,” why is that a bad thing (external links)? Maybe I’ve been under the wrong impression but I thought external links were a good thing — does it depend on what KIND of external links we’re using? This is more about my personal blog than Lead Change. THANKS!

    • You DO want external links, but the ones you have could be spammy, which is why the spam score includes that. For instance, back in the day, people would buy space in listings just to get the link. That is considered black hat SEO so it would bring your spam score up.

      Does that help?

      • paulakiger

        It does. It’s challenging to figure out what they’re judging as spammy because to me they’re completely related to the post, but obvi the tool can’t read my mind. For instance, I did a post about a local hunger drive initiative and linked to every sponsor. In my mind, that was good (to connect to the sponsor, give them some social media love) but from the point of Open Site Explorer, maybe it looks totally spammy to be linking to a moving company when talking about hunger (?). THANKS!

  • So many folks are overwhelmed when it comes to getting started with measurement from scratch. Yours is a great example of set benchmarks, do some initial measurement, then refine. It’s important to just get started and to not overthink it.

    • I’m almost embarrassed to show those benchmarks, but I find it helps people to see you just have to start somewhere.


  • I like this so much, “take a look at what’s not working.”

    This is so important and we become so attached of different tactics only because they worked in the past.

    Always innovate, be on top of trends and try new things. And on top of all analyze results.

    • I was just talking to a friend who said their mantra is, “Great. That worked. Let’s find something new to add in.’ I love that idea.