How to Measure Your PESO Model EffortsWelcome to the last in the PESO Model series we’ve been focused on for the past several weeks.

Now it is time to learn how to measure the effectiveness of your work, prove you are an investment, not an expense—and have your team carry you out of the building on their shoulders as you celebrate your success. 

(Alright, so that might be a slight exaggeration, but we still are going to work through how to show how awesome you are after doing all of this work!)

I know this makes many of your cringe. Not my joke (though that may, too), but the idea of metrics.

Don’t worry! We’re not going to do math. We’re going to look at how the data you have at your fingertips allows you to tell a story that proves the effectiveness of your PESO Model program. 

The PR industry has a bad rap—and we get no respect. The challenge is that, for the most part, what we do:

  • Is not trackable;
  • PR pros have a love/hate relationship with journalists;
  • There isn’t an industry-wide process for tracking results; 
  • For the most part, communicators don’t have P&L responsibility (there are some exceptions to that rule, of course); and
  • A good portion of what we do is building brand and reputation and credibility and relationships.

All of those things are incredibly challenging to measure, yet many executives expect it. The 2019 Global Communications Survey out of the Annenberg Center at USC found that, while 81% of executives find earned media one of the most valuable tools for building their brands, 69% expect it to sell.

For those of you who do earned media, you know what a challenge that is without an incredibly expensive piece of software that will track attribution from your efforts. Most organizations either won’t invest in that or can’t afford it.

So what is one to do?

The good news is, with a PESO Model program, you can attribute your efforts, measure your work, nurture marketing qualified leads, and prove a real return-on-investment. 

Media Impressions and AVEs?

Too often, we continue to fall back on media impressions and AVEs, even though we know they don’t mean much. They’re comfortable, they give us something to report on, and executives have come to accept them as our metric. I just had a conversation with a client who asked me what the advertising equivalency was for some of the work we’re doing. I laughed out loud—and then we had a bigger conversation about why that made me laugh.

In a world full of data both to help us make decisions and measure results, we have to step outside of our comfort zones and start reporting on the things that matter, not made up metrics.

For every communicator outside of the U.S., media impressions and AVEs are not only passé, they are fined for using them in their PR metrics reporting. AMEC invests “significant time and resources to kill off this derided metric.”

As well, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations took it a step further and said any member using AVEs will be banned from the organization. If a communicator is found to be using AVEs, they “may be liable to disciplinary action.”

But Here in the U.S.?

When we judge award entries for the professional organizations, we find the results section to be lacking real business results. They’re focused, instead, on Facebook fans, number of media interviews, and media impressions.

It hurts my analytical brain. It hurts my communications heart.

PR pros win big awards for measuring their efforts that way so why should it change? It turns out, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. Either we can win the big awards and display them in fancy cases in our lobbies. Or we can have a seat at the table, and learn how to take advantage of data to track against the real things that sustain a business.

Things such as increased revenue, shortened sales cycles, and improved margins.

Vanity and Data-Driven PR Metrics

But, here’s the thing: I’m not so numbers driven I don’t recognize the need for what one might call “vanity” PR metrics.

It is very difficult to measure brand awareness and the effectiveness of traditional PR—both very necessary in brand building and reputation and consensus and community. Because of that, we have to find ways to measure results in ways that are meaningful to the executives who want PR to sell.

I’ve broken down the types of things you can measure by vanity (brand awareness) and data-driven (business objectives) PR metrics.

Vanity Metric: Fans, Followers, Traffic, Shares

I’m not so naive to think, at the very start of your PESO Model program, you shouldn’t pay attention to fans, followers, traffic, and shares. After all, these numbers are the first indication that something is working—or that something is wrong.

Imagine if you’re moving along through the process and you had a sudden drop in website traffic. You’d immediately know something was wrong. Or, in my case, you had a sudden drop in subscribers, only to discover your emails were going out multiple times a day. Yeah, that was fun. 

The point is, fans, followers, traffic, and shares are great initial indicators of something else. They’re the beginning of your data-driven story. Now you have to dig in to figure out how the story is going to end.

Vanity Metric: Earned Media

Because earned media is so important to CEOs AND they want it to drive sales, I want to spend a little time on this one. 

Earned media doesn’t mean just working with journalists; it also includes blogger and influencer relations. Nancy Marshall and I were recording a podcast episode for PR Maven and she asked me what has changed since I started my career. I laughed and said this would age me, but I used to have to stand at the copier and make copies of all the clips we secured. She agreed and said her agency’s now president used to sit at her kitchen table and measure out the articles and then paste them into binders.

Oh, those were the days! Today, because of the web, we no longer have to do that! Yippee! And we no longer have to count on bunk “metrics”, such as media impressions. We no longer have to multiply circulation by two and a half if it was a consumer publication or by five if it was a trade outlet. No more made up numbers!

Now you can track how many times an article, blog post, or piece of content was shared. You can track how many visitors it sent your website—and what those visitors did. You can attribute where a customer started—and how your efforts nurtured them through the sales process. 

Get to know Google Analytics (really, it’s non-negotiable) and track the traffic, views, and social shares of every article you’ve placed. Report to your executives the value of each campaign.

In just a few minutes I’ll be back to talk to you about the data-driven metrics. The ones that will allow you to prove the work you do is an investment for the organization, not an expense.

Data Metric: Big Data

For those of you who have been in the industry for a few years, you’ll remember having to sit through focus groups night after night, watching people on the other side of one-sided glass talk about your products or services. I was always happy when the advertising team said we didn’t need to attend. They were so boooooring.

The beauty with Big Data is we no longer have to give up our weeknights (and eat pizza four nights in a row) to get information about what our customers think. If you have a strong command of all of the data at your fingertips, you will be able to influence high-level decisions on product, market positioning, and more. If you don’t know how to sift through the data, look at taking some online courses through Coursera or Cognitive Class.

Data Metric: Marketing Qualified Leads

A marketing qualified lead—or a MQL—is someone who has engaged with your organization and could become a customer if your PESO Model program is set up correctly. At this point, I would distinguish between marketing leads and marketing qualified leads. 

A marketing lead is someone who might subscribe to your newsletter or join your community or follow you on social—and share your content there. A marketing qualified lead is someone who does all of that AND engages more, such as downloading content, attending live or virtual events, and/or joining your community.

If they keep showing up, they want you to give them a reason to throw their money at you. Give them that reason and move them to the next data point.

Data Metric: Sales Qualified Leads

Lots of people will argue that PR is not responsible for sales qualified leads—or SQLs. And I would agree…if you’re doing just traditional PR. But if you’re implementing a PESO Model program, it is absolutely responsible for SQLs.

A sales qualified lead is someone who is ready to talk to sales. Typically they are someone who has expressed enough interest in your brand that they’re ready to talk to sales. For my business, this is someone who watched a social media video ad, registered for a webinar, watched the webinar, and booked a call for a complimentary coaching call. By the time they get on that call, they are sales qualified. 

It could also be someone who has read and shared your blog posts, followed you on social, downloaded content, opened and engaged with your emails, and perhaps attended a webinar or livestream event.

However your PESO Model funnel is set up—knowing that it’s less linear and more circular—determines when someone becomes sales qualified. 

Data Metric: Shortened Sales Cycle

If you’re in a consumer business, this is less important to you. But in a B2B organization, a sales cycle could be anywhere from two days to two years. Work with your sales team to figure out how long the average sale takes and set a goal to beat it.

Let’s say it takes 10 months..set your goal to nine months. The best way to shorten a sales cycle? Stay top-of-mind. The best way to stay top-of-mind? Create valuable and interesting content that is shared in the places your prospects hang out.

This could include email, social media, stadiums (well, when we can go back to sitting in stadiums to be able to see it), subways, websites, media outlets, and more.

The better your content, the more likely your prospects are to read it. The more likely they are to read it (or view it or listen to it), the more likely they are to buy from you.

PR pros have ultimate control of this.

Data Metric: Increased Revenue

If you don’t work for a public company, having access to the revenue goals may prove a little difficult. But, if your organization is run like mine, the revenue goals are very visible.

Figure out how you can affect growth. If you have ecommerce, your campaigns will drive to landing pages where people can buy. If you don’t sell online, your content, email, social media, media relations, and other efforts will be measured through the leads you generate, how you nurture them, and how you help sales convert them.

Gain access to the CRM so you know exactly where each lead comes from and whether or not they convert. You have to have access to the software the organization uses so you can track your efforts.

That is how you know how much money you’re driving for the business.

Two Metrics to Track Immediately

As you begin to do this work, there are two metrics you want to track immediately: domain authority and search rankings for your priority keywords.

For instance, we want to be known for the PESO Model so you’d better bet we not only show up on the first page of Google results, but in the first few positions. But it’s not important for us to show up for adjusted gross income tips so that’s not a keyword for us.

Of course these two metrics—has your domain authority increased, and are you on the first page of Google results for your priority keywords—are only the beginning. You also want to track everything we’ve talked about today—how your PESO Model program is driving qualified leads to your website and into your sales funnel. 

The end game here is being able to show how your efforts are bringing in cold, hard cash to your company. And that, my friends, is the ultimate goal. Prove your efforts drive sales and you’ll win. Every time.

The PESO Model Series Comes to a Close

That’s it for our PESO Model series! 

If you missed earlier parts of this series, you can find the overviewpaidearnedowned, shared, and reputation by clicking those links. 

If you want to learn how to implement this for your clients or for the organization for which you work—and become certified, which tells everyone you know what you’re doing and have done the deep work to put theory into practice, you can click that beautiful button below.

And, of course, I’ll answer any and all questions in the comments below or in the Spin Sucks Community.


Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich