Gini Dietrich

Measuring PR Success: Seven Metrics to Consider

By: Gini Dietrich | September 19, 2011 | 
109

Last week Eric Wittke wrote a blog post on Flames on Fifth Avenue about the perception of the PR industry.

He described the answers he receives (the same we’ve all experienced) when he tells someone he’s in PR…and how irritating it is that people assume we lie or spin for a living.

And now, a new sitcom on NBC – Free Agents – isn’t helping our image (even though Molli Megasko tells me it’s hilarious).

This isn’t a new topic at Spin Sucks, but it seems that we have to continue repeating it, especially if we want the business world to take us seriously.

You see, what we do isn’t tangible. It’s easy for people to understand advertising because they can see it, touch it, feel it.

But can you see, touch, or feel a reputation? Or an avoided crisis? Or customer retention? Internally you can, but most of the people who assume we help corporations lie don’t see the tangible results.

I commented on Eric’s blog post:

We have to, have to, have to show our worth in terms of dollars and cents. The pundits who talk about awareness and impressions and sentiment have clearly never run a P&L. It makes me nuts. I run two businesses. If one of my peeps came to me and said, “We have to keep this program going because it’s creating positive sentiment, I would laugh them out of the room.”

This isn’t about sentiment and impressions and mentions. Sure, those things help with awareness. But they’re not the end all, be all.

I know there is a debate about whether or not PR can or should help with sales, directly, but I’m here to tell you, if you do not figure out how it does, you will not have a job in the future.

Following is a list of things you should be accountable for and measuring toward every day:

  • Sales
  • Lead nurturing
  • Lead generation
  • Lead conversion
  • Thought leadership
  • Web traffic
  • Brand awareness

I challenge you to create a goal for each of the seven categories above, for the next three months, and see what kind of effect you can have on the business in the last quarter of the year.

If you need help with ideas for each, leave a comment below and I’m happy to help you brainstorm. I know some of our regular commenters will help, too.

If you take this challenge and truly measure your efforts, I guarantee you’ll enter 2012 with your colleagues and peers excited about working with you next year…because you’ll have, overnight, gone from an expense to an investment.

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,ย co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She alsoย is the lead blogger atย Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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109 Comments on "Measuring PR Success: Seven Metrics to Consider"

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EricaAllison
4 years 8 months ago

Measure, measure, measure!! That is my mantra and I think, makes me truly more of an investment than an expense. When I sense that I’ve slipped from the I to an E, I have a discussion with the client, fine tune our plan and re-tool the approach. There’s no reason what so ever that we should still cling to intangible PR approaches anymore. In this day, and economic climate, bottom line is what keeps the machine rolling. We either need to be a part of that forward motion or get out of the way. Thanks! 1st in!! Woo-hoo!

T60Productions
4 years 8 months ago

Really good Gini… and this is one of the reasons I think video is such a critical tool for the PR industry. Producing quality videos can be one of the few things that help accomplish most of those goals on your list. The best part is the more quality videos you produce, the more they’ll help.

Thanks for setting up my sales pitch so well! ๐Ÿ™‚

–Tony Gnau

T60Productions
4 years 8 months ago

Really good Gini… and this is one of the reasons I think video is such a critical tool for the PR industry. Producing quality videos can be one of the few things that help accomplish most of those goals on your list. The best part is the more quality videos you produce, the more they’ll help.

Thanks for setting up my sales pitch so well! ๐Ÿ™‚

–Tony Gnau

jgwhitt
jgwhitt
4 years 8 months ago

Great thoughts on this important topic @ginidietrich! As PR practitioners, we need to be tying into overall business objectives of our companies or clients. But I am still waiting to see a concrete example of this – a b2b scenario would be grand. Anyone? Anyone? I know they are out there…;)

jgwhitt
jgwhitt
4 years 8 months ago

@EricaAllison Great comment! What kind of measurements are working best for you?

NancyD68
4 years 8 months ago
I just began working for my friend who happens to be an interior designer here in NYC. His PR firm that he hired is not showing any real results. How much time should be allotted for getting the word out? I told him I am very surprised that she (his agent) does not keep in close contact with him and give him status report on what she has going on for him. She charges him a lot of money and he is still not in the desired mags that he wants his work featured in. When do you think it… Read more »
adamtoporek
4 years 8 months ago

Coming from the client side, I can certainly say that the measurable results are important. All seven bullets are key in most campaigns. And @EricaAllison makes a great point about staying an investment not an expense.

I think one thing, coming from the other side of the table, that is important for PRs is demonstrating the results that stemmed directly from your efforts. i.e. We have a PR and marketing campaigns going, sales goes up, who gets credit — marketing or PR?

adamtoporek
4 years 8 months ago

Coming from the client side, I can certainly say that the measurable results are important. All seven bullets are key in most campaigns. And @EricaAllison makes a great point about staying an investment not an expense.

I think one thing, coming from the other side of the table, that is important for PRs is demonstrating the results that stemmed directly from your efforts. i.e. We have a PR and marketing campaigns going, sales goes up, who gets credit — marketing or PR?

thewhalehunters
thewhalehunters
4 years 8 months ago

I’m in sales, not PR, but your list of things to be accountable for is core to the success of any business. I’d add one more–probably implicit in your thinking, but nevertheless–all of your seven categories depend on the quality of the target customer that is understood in the business and by the PR firm as well as the sales and business development team. So I might add “from target customer” or “with target customer” to each of your categories. Nice job! @

thewhalehunters
thewhalehunters
4 years 8 months ago

@adamtoporek@EricaAllison

That is such an excellent question! For the good of the company, it’s important to establish a collaborative mindset in which everyone understands how initiatives are interrelated. Specific accomplishments can’t really be carved out as credit for one effort or the other. Certain metrics will always be shared by sales, marketing, and PR when it’s going well. I’d like to see sales, marketing, and PR agree on the metrics and also a cost of sales metric that could demonstrate ROI value in the collaborative approach.

KenMueller
4 years 8 months ago
Maybe you can answer this for me. I’m not a PR person. Certainly a measure of PR has been a part of every job I’ve had, including now, but I’m not “trained” in PR and what I do in terms of PR is just natural stuff that is part of the territory. As a communicator, I’m scratching my head and wondering how PR ever got separated from those other disciplines in the first place. To me, as an outsider, it’s a no brainer. The end goal is to sell a product or service. Everything you do in the company should… Read more »
JayDolan
4 years 8 months ago

I measure my PR efforts with a ruler and a whole smorgasbord of Google Analytics.

I prefer the ruler.

glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell
4 years 8 months ago

Love this list. Thinking of diagramming it in a circular flow chart and taping it to my wall: “Thought Leadership –> Web Traffic –> Brand Awareness –> Lead generation –> Lead nurturing –> Lead conversion –> Sales”. I could put a pin in the box as I moved around the circle — to make sure I paid enough attention to each. (Of course, pretty soon I would have a large circular hole in my wall — but it’s a thought ๐Ÿ™‚

glenn_ferrell
glenn_ferrell
4 years 8 months ago

Love this list. Thinking of diagramming it in a circular flow chart and taping it to my wall: “Thought Leadership –> Web Traffic –> Brand Awareness –> Lead generation –> Lead nurturing –> Lead conversion –> Sales”. I could put a pin in the box as I moved around the circle — to make sure I paid enough attention to each. (Of course, pretty soon I would have a large circular hole in my wall — but it’s a thought ๐Ÿ™‚

EricaAllison
4 years 8 months ago
@jgwhitt That’s a very good question! I’m going to give an example that you asked for in your comment above. In order to measure anything, I start with the end result, the client goals and work my way back from there. I then talk to everyone else that touches that goal: the sales team, marketing (sometimes that’s me, sometimes it’s another firm), customer service and make sure we’re all clear on that goal. For example, is it to increase the number of quality leads to an insurance agency website? Let’s say yes (‘cos that’s one I’m working on). I ask… Read more »
Nic_Cartwright
4 years 8 months ago
Over in my world – we only had 3 targets (it’s all bigger and better over in USA!!) – cash, data (from which to mine cash), or awareness (which had better be pretty darned good – leading to data and cash) to consider before we used any meaningful resource to explore PR opportunities…… Of course, ‘spare’ resource can be used to create a bit of fun / or target other avenues – but not much of that about nowadays……. Players time (in sports) has not been used well historically to drive PR – but that is certainly a current ‘spare… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@EricaAllison Look at that! @KenMueller is slipping. Maybe this was his birthday present to you??

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@EricaAllison@jgwhitt You could even take that one step further and look at leads before the campaign and leads after and show an increase (hopefully) in targets. One thing we do is include product information (webinars, ebooks) in a blog post. Then, with on-page analytics, I can see how many people have clicked on the product link and then correlate that to how many people bought. So, for instance, in one blog post, the analytics showed me two percent clicked and, from my sales report, I know 1.8 percent of them bought. So that one blog post drove approximately $3,600.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@T60Productions Talk more about this because we have LOTS of clients who would like to do video, but don’t want to spend the money. How does video help?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@T60Productions Talk more about this because we have LOTS of clients who would like to do video, but don’t want to spend the money. How does video help?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@jgwhitt I answered this for you below…

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@jgwhitt I answered this for you below…

KenMueller
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich@EricaAllison Hey, it’s all about the timing. I was walking my dog! And I don’t want to look TOO eager, or people will start wondering.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@NancyD68 Traditional media relations (or publicity), like this, takes a really long time to take effect. Most of the design publications he likely wants to be in have a six-month lead time. So that means it’ll be a good nine to 12 months before he sees any kind of result. It’s a really expensive, really hard thing to measure, which is why we stopped doing it. For someone like him, it’s going to be nothing more than a good ego stroke.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@thewhalehunters@adamtoporek We do a few things, such as unique URLs, that only we (PR) use so we can track our efforts directly. But, most times, we work directly with the marketing department so we all get credit. One of the big things I’m personally striving toward is no silos. If you don’t have silos, the company gets credit instead of marketing or PR taking it. You’re going to see a lot more on that coming from me in the next few months.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@thewhalehunters One of the things we really struggle with, that you may be able to shed some light on, is we generate leads and the sales team never follows up. For instance, I was with a client last week and we were looking at Q3 results from the PR and marketing. They’re pretty significant. But, when compared to what’s in their CRM, it’s apparent sales is doing nothing with those leads. It’s pretty frustrating.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@KenMueller It’s been this way my entire career. I mean, I worked for one of the biggest PR firms and we measured advertising equivalency and impressions. That isn’t a real return on anything…except maybe ego.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@JayDolan You know what’s funny? I ALMOST used a ruler as the image but didn’t think anyone would get it. Now I know we have the same sick sense of humor and you’ll get it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@JayDolan You know what’s funny? I ALMOST used a ruler as the image but didn’t think anyone would get it. Now I know we have the same sick sense of humor and you’ll get it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@glenn_ferrell I LOVE the image this portrays!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@glenn_ferrell I LOVE the image this portrays!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@Nic_Cartwright I really like this: Cash, data, awareness. I may steal it!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@Nic_Cartwright I really like this: Cash, data, awareness. I may steal it!

jgwhitt
jgwhitt
4 years 8 months ago
@ginidietrich@EricaAllison These are great examples – thank you! We are in the process of using Google Analytics to track PR results and it looks promising. One of the areas we are struggling with is the premium content you are referring to, such as webinars, ebooks, etc. It is naturally easier when you can track a lead via a download form. We just need more content but we are getting there. There are also some nifty marketing automation tools I have seen that can give you insight into what folks are doing on your website, even integrating with a CRM like… Read more »
jgwhitt
jgwhitt
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich Saw it – thanks

jgwhitt
jgwhitt
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich Saw it – thanks

fitzternet
4 years 8 months ago
Working backwards up your list, specifically thinking of YouTube: Brand awareness – Branding the first five seconds of a video is a must. The video itself should flow from your brand’s message. Keep it short and end with the same branding you started the video with. Web traffic – YouTube is the second largest social network and second largest search engine. Thought leadership – Videos are like blogs. ON STEROIDS. Lead conversion – CTAs, reputation and advanced tracking metrics… Finding out where the videos are embedded and reaching out to those bloggers, writers, etc. And reaching out to establish relationships… Read more »
fitzternet
4 years 8 months ago
Working backwards up your list, specifically thinking of YouTube: Brand awareness – Branding the first five seconds of a video is a must. The video itself should flow from your brand’s message. Keep it short and end with the same branding you started the video with. Web traffic – YouTube is the second largest social network and second largest search engine. Thought leadership – Videos are like blogs. ON STEROIDS. Lead conversion – CTAs, reputation and advanced tracking metrics… Finding out where the videos are embedded and reaching out to those bloggers, writers, etc. And reaching out to establish relationships… Read more »
KenMueller
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich but you’re young. Historically, do you have any idea if it was always like this?

and see how i did that? i called you young! bonus points for me

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 8 months ago

@KenMueller Yes, historically it’s always been this way. Integration was a big thing in the late 90s and early 2000s. Then the tech bubble burst and everyone retreated. We’re just now dipping our toes in the water again.

Nic_Cartwright
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich you C.A.D. – #madeupacroynmsinaction

joelfortner03
4 years 8 months ago

@glenn_ferrell Not sure if you’re kidding but that’s actually a great idea!

joelfortner03
4 years 8 months ago

@glenn_ferrell Not sure if you’re kidding but that’s actually a great idea!

joelfortner03
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich Do you think PR should taught in a business college where this type of measurement is common versus a mass comm college? Does it matter?

AlinaKelly
AlinaKelly
4 years 8 months ago
@ginidietrich@KenMueller@ginideitrich – why would you NOT want to track the contributions of PR or marketing or customer service to sales? Sales needs them all to get results. The issue I see over and over is not only measurement but remuneration: you get what you reward. As @KenMueller says, the end goal is to sell a product or a service. It’s leadership’s role to reward these various contributing disciplines for working together effectively to deliver on customer expectations. What we need are rulers that measure EVERYONE’s contributions to that end goal rather than worry whether is was wheat, flax or oats… Read more »
Al Smith
4 years 8 months ago

Wow. You wrote this, Gini ? Very impressed. Seriously, wish I could afford to hire you and Erica. I am going to look at these 7 things on the list and make some goals. great comments and suggestions from everyone. Thanks.

Al

jackielamp
jackielamp
4 years 8 months ago
This is a challenge we face every day. Clients and prospects come to us wanting the exact metrics you suggest. What I have a hard time figuring out is how do you tie PR to sales, lead gen and conversion? Particularly in B2B? The reason I think this becomes so difficult is because PR tends to be viewed as a standalone instead of another contributing part of the business. It should contribute to the overall goals that you mentioned above, right? I can’t see how it’s the only thing that will get you the results you want…yet some companies evaluate… Read more »
thewhalehunters
thewhalehunters
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich Almost everyone struggles with that. Sales and marketing typically do not get along. In my view it requires cross-functional planning/training and agreements to get sales/marketing (including PR) on the same page (then operations too). Your next comment says it all–silos.

AlinaKelly
AlinaKelly
4 years 8 months ago

@ginidietrich@thewhalehunters You get what you reward. I’d ask: what is sales being rewarded for?

rachaelseda
4 years 8 months ago
This is exactly what I needed and the timing is even more perfect. As a young PR pro working in house at a non-profit, I find myself essentially alone to figure this all out. My goal for the next few months is to try and collaborate with the other departments and figure out our goals and how we can measure them. These 7 metrics are perfect and just where I will start. Everyone’s comments have been particularly helpful as well. I’m sure I will be back with questions after I really think through this myself. Thank you for this, I… Read more »
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