PR MetricsOn the 10th Day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you 10 PR metrics, nine productivity tipseight communications podcastsseven books for communicatorssix SEO tricksfive breakable habitsfour PRM toolsthree AI expertstwo PR trends, and one mindset shift in a pear tree.

Welcome to the 10th day of Christmas!

If you’re anything like me, NOTHING gives you the holiday warm and fuzzies like a well-organized spreadsheet filled with up-to-date metrics all trending up and to the right. 

Even if they don’t set your eyes aglow with holiday glee, metrics are something you should track consistently, but they have to be the right kind of metrics.

No media impressions or AVEs here. No siree, bob!

They should be kind that give you usable information about whether or not your PESO Model communications plan is delivering what matters to the CEO.

In most cases, that’s cold, hard cash.

PR Metrics In Paid Media

While owned media tends to be the most important place to start in a PESO model program, I’m going to give you metrics that matter for each in order of the acronym.

This means we’ll start with paid media. 

Paid media has traditionally been left to the advertising guys, but today, communicators in all kinds of organizations have the opportunity to use it to promote, boost, and sponsor the content they create.

Paid media should drive leads and conversions—or marketing and sales qualified leads.

These are the metrics that are going to help you do exactly that. 

  • Social media marketing ad conversions. Using data from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google AdWords, you can easily drive new leads to your website and track the PR measurement from it. Right now, Facebook is still one of the best ways to convert from social media. Are people clicking on your ad? What are they doing once they’re on your site? You want to see a correlation between people clicking and downloading content—and people buying. This should be included in your PR tracking, particularly if the ads are part of an awareness-building stage with content and then a retargeting campaign for those who engage with said content.
  • Email database. There is almost nothing better for lead generation, nurturing, and conversion than email marketing. I’m not talking about your monthly newsletter that is distributed and talks about your latest and greatest products or projects. That’s not effective. People don’t care about you. They want to know what you can do for them. When you set up your PR metrics dashboard, you not only want to see an increase in the number of email addresses in your database, you want to see an increase in the number of people who click on links in your emails. Set up your PR metrics dashboard to include unique URLs so you can track what’s the most effective.
  • Leads and conversions. With Google Analytics, and customer relationship management software, it’s incredibly easy to know if certain campaigns are working. For instance, with analytics and your typical sales conversion percentage, you should be able to figure out how many people you need to bring into your website every day to hit your targets. You can track their behavior on your website with analytics, and their conversion to marketing qualified leads, and from those to sales qualified leads. You should be able to figure out how many leads at the top of the funnel will correlate to conversion at the bottom.

PR Metrics In Earned Media

Earned media got its name because you garner results from the relationships you earn—with influencers, with journalists, and with other online content creators such as group managers, podcasters, vloggers, and bloggers.

To measure the effectiveness of your earned media program, consider the following PR metrics:

  • Web performance. Orbit Media Studio conducted a survey among 1,000 bloggers and found that nearly half either never or only occasionally review their analytics. But there’s so much data in that free tool! Get it. Play with it. Understand it. And create your PR metrics dashboard from it. Pay attention to how much new traffic a specific story, blog post, tweet, or Facebook mention brings you. Is it qualified traffic? Do they visit other pages? Is the bounce rate low? Do they spend significant time on your site? All of these things will tell you how valuable that third-party influencer is to your campaign. And will help you with scoring in the future.
  • Media, blogger, and influencer scoring. This brings me to my next point. Consider this…does the Puxatoomie News Herald have as high a score as the New York Times? Does an influencer with 10,000 followers have the same score as someone with 1,000 followers? It could be that the person with 1,000 followers can convert 10 percent of them for you, while the person with 10,000 followers can do so with only one percent. Don’t get caught up in the ego-driven results. Focus on developing an internal scoring metric for media and content creators so you know who you should approach for earned media opportunities, rather than relying on vanity metrics. 

PR Metrics In Shared Media

There’s almost nothing that drives me crazier than PR campaigns that tout their increases in social media followers as “results.”

Yes, you have to track those things because sharp declines—or a trend of decreasing followers—will tell you something is wrong.

But an increase, week-after-week, do not results make.

The following PR metrics, which you should measure, do.

  • Rating system. Just like you can score the value of your earned media, you can do the same for your social media updates and shares. Assign a point system to your efforts. For instance, likes are one point, comments are five points, and shares are 10 points. Then you can assign points to each social network. On Twitter, you can use five points for a tweet and 10 points for a retweet. The point here is that you very quickly learn which campaigns worked really well and which fell flat on their face.
  • Unique stuff. By “stuff” I mean unique URLs, landing pages, coupons, discount codes, or even telephone numbers. The only place these should be used is in social media. You can have different ones for the other media types to measure their effectiveness in a larger campaign. This allows you to easily point to the success of one tactic or marketing platform. In Google Analytics, track how many people are using your unique stuff assigned to your shared media updates.

PR Metrics In Owned Media

And now my first love—owned media.

The beauty of owned media—content that lives on something you own, such as your website or blog—is it completely integrates with the other three media types.

You can’t have owned media without paid media (increased reach), earned media (increased awareness), and shared media (increased distribution).

So think about measuring these PR metrics:

  • The vanities. Yes, you should pay attention to unique visitors, time spent on the site, and bounce rate. Those things, such as an increase (or decrease) in social media followers, indicating success or failure. But they really are just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s say you’ve done your earned media job and a story runs in a trade publication that matters to your organization. You want to track the vanity metrics in this case—they will tell you a few things. For instance, if it brings 2,000 new visitors to your site, this is good. These are people who didn’t already know about you. The article worked! Now the website needs to do its job. Did those people stay on the site (this is indicated by the low bounce rate and the number of pages visited)? Did they end up on a piece of downloadable content or on a sales page? Then did they download said content or ask for a demo or for a quote or for a conversation? You can tell all of these things by paying attention to the vanity metrics as they enter your site and hang out.
  • Community. There is lots and lots and lots of debate about what a community can do, both for your vanity metrics and your social shares. Having built a community and replicating that same success for clients, I can tell you, hands down, an engaged community drives sales. Track the effectiveness of your community through sales, speaking engagement recommendations, client referrals, or paid webinar attendees. Build your community! In some cases, it will integrate with your influencer relations and brand ambassadors.
  • Sales. Any public relations campaign that does not include sales as a metric is doing it wrong. Start at the top with things such as website traffic and social media referrals. Move to the middle with attribution and lead generation. Then move to the bottom with conversions and sales. If you’re tracking awareness, marketing qualified leads, and sales qualified leads, your PESO model campaign will result in cold, hard cash.

Get Good at This and You Will Win

Get really good at measuring and analyzing these PR metrics.

They’ll let you know exactly how well your campaigns are doing, what you need more of, and what you can let go, and generally help you communicate to your clients or bosses that their investment in PR is well worth it.

And that, my friends, is the ultimate goal.

We are an investment, not an expense.

Now you can prove it. 

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.

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