peso model metricsOne of my favorite things to do when I’m in front of large groups of communicators is ask:

How many of you went into PR because you hate math?

Everyone laughs and more than 90% raise their hands.

A friend of mine says there is a bit of truth in jokes—which is why this is funny. It’s true!

At the same time, I often say the challenge communicators have with measurement is two-fold:

  1. The industry, as a whole, doesn’t have a uniform or agreed-upon way to measure effectiveness. AMEC has a really good start on this, but it doesn’t get as far as we need it to.
  2. Communicators generally don’t have P&L responsibility (which opens an entirely different can of worms) so it’s incredibly difficult to understand how the work we do affects the growth of an organization.

To boot, measurement is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, we want to prove the effectiveness of our work, but when we do, it forces us to do what we say we’re going to do.

With traditional “measurement”, it’s a lot easier to be, shall I say, fluffy in our commitment.

It’s easy to blame lack of results on not being able to control what the media does. A drop in brand awareness to a new competitor. A decrease in email subscribers to cleaning up the list.

But when you use data and real metrics, you’re fully committed to real results.

Hello, rock and hard place.

Measuring Earned Media

We aren’t going to today fix the fact that the industry doesn’t have a uniform way to measure results.

And if you don’t have P&L experience, we’re not going to get that for you today.

But we can talk about how the types of metrics you can use, particularly in the PESO model (since it’s PESO model learning month and all).

Every week, our community rallies around a question I should answer on video.

This week, the question was:

How do I measure earned media?

To answer that, I had a little help from my communicator-in-training, which you can see here.

Earned Media Metrics

The gist of it is this: if you are doing media relations alone (or it’s a good percentage of what you do), you have a few data-driven metrics you can measure.

  1. Increase in website visitors, particularly on the day and the seven to 10 days after a story runs.
  2. Decrease in bounce rate during the same time.
  3. Increase in time spent on site during the same time.
  4. The number of unique visitors the story brought to your website.
  5. If you have access to the CRM, the number of new email subscribers that resulted from the story.
  6. An increase in domain authority, particularly if the story is on a high authority site.
  7. An increase in search rankings for the topic for which the story is about.

This is a great way to measure earned media if you’re using it in a silo.

Or, With the PESO Model, You Can Measure Real Results

But if you’re integrating other media types, even it it’s only owned or shared, you can go even further.

No surprise, I’ve written about this A LOT.

Following are all of the articles we’ve published on the topic in the past three years:

And the beast of them all: 15 Key PR Metrics to Measure In a PESO Model Program.

You’ll find one consistent theme through all of these articles: the vanity metrics—the things we typically “measure” are the beginning, not the end.

We also are big on marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads…and measuring our efforts to those two things.

What Are Marketing Qualified Leads?

Marketing qualified leads are what we used to refer to as the middle of the funnel.

The people who showed more interest than just reading a blog post or commenting on a Facebook post.

But, because people today no longer follow a top, middle, and bottom of a funnel process—it’s more circular than that—we call them marketing qualified leads.

The easy definition is it is someone who is more likely to become a customer based on their actions.

For instance, if they’ve visited certain pages (about, pricing, contact), have downloaded content, or take action on your emails.

They download your content and share it. They take action from your email marketing. You likely even know their name because they engage with you on social or comment on your blog posts.

If you’re creating a drip campaign specific to marketing qualified leads, your next step would be to send them content that would entice them to buy.

What Are Sales Qualified Leads?

Sales qualified leads, on the other hand, are those we used to refer to as being at the bottom of the funnel.

They’ve taken action such as scheduled a meeting or requested a demo, an estimate, or a proposal.

They have been vetted by both the marketing and sales teams‚ and have been approved, so to speak, to move on to the next step in the buyer’s journey.

We have a client who sends a bi-monthly email and, every time that sucker goes out, the same woman takes action at least five times (it was seven last week).

I finally told them they need to call her, even if it seems creepy. She’s definitely sales qualified.

I don’t know if she’ll buy, but the fact that she does everything we ask her to in every email signals she’s ready for a conversation with sales.

Of course, she could also be a competitor, but we ruled that out before we passed on her name and contact information.

Measure What Truly Matters

When you integrate a PESO model program into your communications plan, you can see how this starts to all work together.

Sure, you can measure effectiveness of earned media on its own, but see how much better it gets when you integrate the other media types?

If you can prove that someone got to your website from your earned media efforts and then became marketing qualified because of your earned and shared efforts. And then became sales qualified because of your paid and owned efforts, see what a different conversation that is?

You went from, “We had an increase of 2,000 unique visitors, a one-point increase in our domain authority, and now show up on the first page of Google results for <insert keyword or phrase>.”

To, “Dora the Explorer started her journey with us from the Jungle Exploration article and today her lifetime value is $62,316. Because she can’t stop buying monkeys.”


The first example isn’t bad—especially if the other media types are handled by marketing.

But if you can do this work or at least oversee it, it’ll serve you well to do so.

And, if you need help getting started or want to get Dora the Explorer featured in Jungle Exploration, we have a masterclass next week just for you!

Click the button below to learn all about PESO Model 2.0: A New Masterclass for a New Decade.

Watch PESO Model 2.0 Masterclass Now

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