By Gijs Nelissen
When it comes to PR metrics and measurement, it seems like everyone can talk the talk.
But how about walking the walk?
Actually measuring the return-on-investment (ROI) of your PR efforts is no easy task.
The Barcelona Principles (nicely summarized in The Principles of PR Measurement by Ketchum Global Research & Analytics) are a great foundation, but they don’t tell you how to get started.
Here are four hands-on PR metrics you can use to measure the ROI of your PR campaigns.
Best of all, you can start using them as soon as today.
Measure Interactions with Your Pitch
If you aren’t measuring how recipients interact with your pitches, you should be. Keeping track of interactions will tell you which messages resonate best with your media contacts (as well as which ones fall flat), helping you refine your pitches over time.
Every time you send out a new pitch, try to answer the following questions:
- Out of all the contacts on my email list, how many received the email, opened it, forwarded it to colleagues, and clicked on the link?
Pro Tip: Most email activity happens within the first two hours of delivery.
- How many contacts replied to my pitch and asked for more information?
- After I’ve posted my pitch on social media, how many of my fans and followers replied, clicked, retweeted, and shared?
Try collecting every metric in a simple spreadsheet for all your campaigns. This will make it easy to compare and evaluate performance later.
Many tools, including the ones we recommend below, have simple export-to-Excel features, making it easy and fast to get everything into one spreadsheet.
To get you started, take a look at the spreadsheet template we’re using.
In addition to helping you keep track of PR performance, it’s a great report to share with your clients.
Thankfully you don’t need to call your entire contact list to know how they’re interacting with your pitches. Accessing this data is surprisingly simple if you have the right tools.
Here are two of my favorites:
- Yesware is a Gmail add-on that lets you track opens and clicks on individual emails.
- Mailchimp helps you measure and track large-scale email campaigns.
Measure the Coverage of Your Social, Web, and Print Outreach
We’re all familiar with the tactic of collecting press clippings for print media coverage. Measuring social and web mentions takes a little more planning.
Here are the questions you need to ask:
- How many people are talking about my news?
- Who are the people talking about my news, and how influential are they?
- Which medium is talking about my news, and how popular is this medium?
I have been playing around with Mention, and it looks promising. Like the name suggests, Mention tracks the mentions of a keyword on both social media and the web.
This gives you one integrated tool to see all the mentions you receive across many different channels.
Use these PR Metrics to Determine ROI
Measuring your media coverage is just the start. What you really need to know is whether that coverage has resulted in dollars and cents, increased brand awareness, or new leads.
To that end, every PR campaign you run should have a clearly defined Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that helps you gauge the campaign’s success. Your KPI should be easy to measure and quick to report on, and you need to be able to check on it at least once a day.
Think very carefully about what it is that you’re trying to achieve, what are your objectives? Ask yourself what successful delivery of these objectives would look like. If there is one thing I’d advocate it would be to download the AMEC social media valid PR metrics framework from www.amecorg.com and apply that against your communications plan. – Richard Bagnall – chair, AMEC social media group
Here are a few common KPIs many companies use to measure the success of their PR initiatives:
- New social media followers;
- New referral links;
- Increased organic website traffic; or
- New leads or sign-ups.
I would say the one simple metric that could be implemented tomorrow is the amount of referral traffic to a blog or website. This can easily be obtained through Google Analytics and shows how PR outreach/awareness results in traffic directly from media and blog sites over a period of time. Having access to this information helps to show how PR is tied to driving traffic to a site, which can then result in further activities /interaction with stakeholders. – Deirdre Breakenridge, Pure Performance Communications
Measure the Long-term Effect of Your Coverage
The previous PR metrics in this article will help you measure the temporary boost your campaigns will generate. While it’s satisfying to see immediate results from your PR efforts, it’s just as important to measure their effectiveness over longer periods of time.
These questions will help you understand the long-term affect your campaigns are having:
- How has my social footprint grown during the past few weeks, months, and years? Have I increased my follower count, interactions, and shares?
- How have my Google rankings improved? Am I ranking better on certain keywords?
- Is my website seeing steady growth of organic traffic through referrals, search engines, and social media?
Followerwonk is a simple tool that helps you track the growth of social media followers over time.
How to determine your Google rankings is another post in itself, but Open Site Explorer will give you some good basic info on your page authority, Page Rank, and top performing subpages.
Here’s the main thing to remember: Measuring PR success doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated.
There are plenty of free, easy-to-use tools that will help you measure the PR metrics you need to meet your specific goals (and don’t forget to use our free spreadsheet template to keep track of all your campaigns and PR metrics in once place).
Not every metric we’ve outlined here will be relevant for every PR campaign. However you measure success, you should be able to learn something from every pitch email, every media mention, and every fan interaction.
Over time, these small improvements will add up to big changes in ROI.
Note from Gini: Gijs works for Prezly, which helps you not only pitch the right journalists, but tracks your success rates and provides analytics and insights. You can try it for free for a couple of weeks. I recommend checking it out.