Gini Dietrich

PR Metrics: What to Measure in the PESO Model

By: Gini Dietrich | July 8, 2014 | 

PR MetricsBy Gini Dietrich

There is a lot of conversation happening online about the PR metrics communications professionals should use.

This is good!

We finally are having the conversation, which means two things: 1) Clients are beginning to realize there is more to what we do than media impressions and advertising equivalencies; and 2) Communications pros are learning from their marketing counterparts and becoming more savvy.

But there is a small problem with the conversation… it’s all focused on media relations.

This makes me want to cry.

Not only is there much more to what we do, there is much more we have to measure.

PR Metrics

There are three organizations that have created a list of things we should measure.

From #SMMStandards:

  • Engagement and conversation
  • Reach and impressions
  • Sentiment, opinion, and advocacy
  • Influence and relevance
  • Impact and value

From the Institute for Public Relations:

  • Return-on-investment
  • Circulation, reach, and impressions
  • Mention
  • Engagement

With the exception of return-on-investment, each of these PR metrics are based on things that don’t matter to an organization’s growth.

Sure, they matter to reputation and to how people feel about your organization, but those have to be combined with the things that drive sales or new donations or new members.

The Barcelona Principles come closer to what we need to measure:

  • Tangible incremental increase in sales;
  • Shift in behavior, rather than just purchase intention; and
  • More brand advocates this quarter compared to the previous quarter.

Still, there is more and we have to do better.

Following are the metrics every integrated marketing communications program should employ, particularly in the PESO (paid, earned, shared, and owned media) model.

Paid Media

Traditionally paid media has been left to the advertising guys, but today communications professionals have a huge opportunity to get really good at it.

Should you start learning how to write jingles and shoot commercials? Absolutely not. Leave that to the professionals.

What you should consider is how to use paid media to drive leads and conversions.

Think about the following PR metrics:

  • Social media marketing. Some of you may be very good at Google AdWords and the like. I prefer to leave that to the experts, but it’s not rocket science, particularly if you have patience, a budget, and are good at A/B testing (the patience thing is what I lack). Are people clicking on your ad? What are they doing once they’re on your site? Like social media advertising, you want to see a correlation between people clicking and people buying.
  • Landing pages and A/B testing. If you’re just starting out, there is no better software to use than Hubspot. It attaches to your content management system (or, in some cases, they become your CMS) and it provides data and recommendations, based on the people who are already visiting your site. They will recommend content (see owned media below) for you to put behind a landing page. That landing page will collect email addresses from the people who want your content. Those people become warm leads. Those warm leads can be nurtured and eventually turned into customers. Track them through the buying process and measure the effectiveness of your ability to get them to buy.
  • Email marketing. There is almost nothing better for lead generation, nurturing, and conversion than email marketing. But I’m not talking about your monthly newsletter that is distributed and talks about your latest and greatest products or projects. I’m talking about email marketing that is valuable, informative, and interesting to your buyer. Maybe it’s a handful of videos that show new ways to use your product (see Will it Blend?) or a blog post that will help your audience be better at their job (presumably something like this post!).
  • Leads and conversions. We have a client that has software as a service and offers a free trial. We know how many people we need at the top of the marketing funnel (which we track through the blog). We know the percentage of those who will take the free trial. And we know the percentage of those who will convert to being a customer. So, if we want to increase sales, we have to increase our top of the funnel visitors. In fact, our goal for 2015 (which begins this month), is a 24 percent increase in top of the funnel visitors.

Earned Media

Earned media got its name because you garner results from the relationships you earn – with influencers, with journalists, and with bloggers.

Historically, earned media has been the most credible because the stories, recommendations, and referrals come from third parties, though word-of-mouth from friends and friends of friends has quickly taken that leadership position (see shared media).

To measure the effectiveness of your earned media program, there are two posts you should read.

The first is the guest post Christopher Penn wrote on this very blog a couple of weeks ago. It describes the ROI of PR Metrics through developing new audiences.

The second is a blog post Aly Saxe wrote for PR Daily, called Four Standards to Set for PR Measurement.

Between the two, you have the following PR metrics:

  • Media, blogger, and influencer scoring. 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 very well be that the person with 1,000 followers can incentivize purchase with 10 percent of his followers, while the person with 10,000 followers can incentivize purchase with only one percent.
  • Web performance. It nearly kills me every time I ask people if they review their Google analytics and less than one percent actually do. This is based on my own, non-qualitative, data. But Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media Studios just conducted a survey among 1,000 bloggers and found nearly half either never or only occasionally review their analytics. People! There is so much data in that free tool. Get it. Play with it. Understand it. And create your metrics. Pay attention to how much new traffic a story, a blog post, a tweet, or a Facebook mention brings you. Is it qualified traffic? Do they visit other pages? Is the bounce rate low? Do they spend some significant time on the site? All of these things will tell you how valuable that third-party influencer is to your campaign (and helps you with scoring in the future).
  • New audiences. At the top of the marketing funnel are the audiences and loyal fans that brands have; the people who are becoming aware of the brand via all of its communications. These audiences come from the addressable markets that a brand can potentially serve, and it’s the job of public relations and advertising to build those audiences and to identify and cultivate those loyal fans of your brand. Track your new audiences through unique visitors to the website and quantify their value. Once audience value is quantified, the ROI of PR is computable in real dollars and cents.

Shared Media

There is almost nothing that drives me more crazy 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, however, do:

  • Social media advertising. Think particularly about Facebook and LinkedIn advertising. Both have the potential to drive both leads and conversions. My friend Terreece Clarke has had incredible success driving appointments with a daycare client of hers through Facebook advertising. They match the clicks on the ads to the likes on the page to the people who make appointments and have found it works incredibly well. On the flip side, though, we tried it with the launch of Spin Sucks (the book) and, while it drove some clicks and a couple of purchases, it didn’t drive enough sales to justify the cost.
  • Influencer relations or brand ambassadors. The Barcelona Principles suggest we increase our brand advocates each quarter. This is a good metric if they are doing something (you don’t just have more ambassadors). During the Spin Sucks (the book) launch, we took a long, hard look at how many of the 150 ambassadors actually did something. Did they post a review? Did they share with their social networks? Did they write a blog post? Did they use their media relationships to get a review in a more traditional way? Did they podcast about it? We found about 50 percent did one (or all) of those things. Not a bad return-on-investment, but now our goal is to get 55 percent to do something in our next campaign.
  • Rating system. Just like you can score 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 assigns 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.

Owned Media

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

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

Alright, that may be a bit bold – you certainly can have owned media without those three things – but it won’t be as successful if you don’t use those assets.

Also think about these PR metrics:

  • The vanities. Yes, I’m not so naive to think these don’t matter. You should pay attention to unique visitors, time spent on the site, and bounce rate. Those things, like an increase (or decrease) in social media followers, indicate success or failure. But these are the tip of the iceberg.
  • Email marketing. If you have an organized owned media program, you likely are distributing through email marketing. When you integrate your content with this paid media tactic, you can track things such as downloads and shares. Do people download the content? Do they read or watch or listen to it once it’s been downloaded? Is it so good they can’t help but share it with their communities? Are they bringing you new website visitors – which correlate to new leads – because you’ve provided so much value?
  • Social media shares. As much as I really, really hate to admit it, social media shares matter. Ever been to a site where you’ve read a piece of content, thought it brilliant, and then noticed there are no social shares? Your immediate thought is not, “Oh this content must be crap” (though that doesn’t enter your mind). Your immediate thought is, “What’s wrong with me that I thought this so brilliant?” Social shares matter because they provide social proof.
  • 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 of Crazies (I love you all!) and replicating that same success for clients, I can tell you – hands down – an engaged community drives sales. We track the effectiveness of your involvement through book sales (yay, ambassadors!), speaking engagement recommendations, client referrals, and paid webinar attendees. An engaged community indirectly drives a significant amount of our revenue. Build your community! In some cases, it will integrate with your influencer relations and brand ambassadors.
  • Sales. Admittedly, it’s fairly easy for us to track sales from our owned media because we’re a small organization. It’s easy to ask people to tell us how they found us and follow their journey backwards to see which buying process they used. That said, we know eighty percent (that’s 8-0 percent) of our new revenue starts with this blog and the buying process goes one of three or four ways. We can help people make a decision by providing them the information they need in one of those processes.

What this all comes down to, of course, is whether or not we’re providing real proof that we are an investment, and not an expense.

Some of these things are considered traditional PR, while others might historically fall under marketing or advertising.

But the lines are blurry and it’s time for us to extend the conversation about PR metrics to more than just media relations.

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, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I like this…very detailed and nitty gritty. Seems like a lot of people still aren’t sure what, or how, to measure their return.

  • ClayMorgan I probably should have used this for our newsletter content!

  • Preach!
    Also: Why do I feel like the PR metric chimp needs to be on a T-shirt?

  • What a great piece. You’ll definitely be able to use that in your next book.

  • Eleanor Pierce Do you love him? I love him!

  • ExtremelyAvg Next book? You’re smoking crack. Only insane people write more than two books (cough).

  • makeaner Video, please!

  • This is a great discussion ginidietrich 

    My mindset has been changing the last few months on a lot of things. Especially with the changes for Facebook’s organic reach. Where there once was vibrant communities there are mostly ghost towns. The value of a Brand Page Like and a Post Like are almost zero now in most cases.

    Two things you highlighted that are very important for PR is great fit for running email marketing and Facebook ads to promote select worth while content. What better group to target than Fans. They might not be worth much organically but you can have them all see worth while content for cheap (CPM) even if 99%+ do nothing but see your message.

    Those are two great areas of paid advertising/media that PR can be involved with even for small scale.

    The ROI areas are also very important. The best teams will have a campaign crafter and someone who can value the results objectively. Every brand and campaign and target audience is unique even for brands that directly compete. Someone has to think outside the box to grasp the impact of the efforts properly and then competently present to upper management in terms they can understand.

  • Howie Goldfarb Amen.

  • jensie_simkins

    Next post: “How to convince your clients their patience will pay dividends. Hint: it will take longer than one month”. 🙂
    Metrics are amazing, and thanks Gini for this great info on what and how to measure. But all of it takes time, and I don’t know about you all, but my clients tend to be a little sketchy with the waiting. Anyone have ideas on how to keep them engaged and happy while you gather and crunch data?

  • jensie_simkins Can you provide data that will keep them happy in the short-term while you build that long-term metrics out?
    Even if it’s vanity metrics like new fans and blog shares, downloads of white papers or coupons, etc. Something that shows some form of “growth” while you both work out the long-term goals and the metrics that offer value – which network is most successful, what content gets more valuable reaction, what monetary cost does social mean versus how it impacts the bottom (and top) line.
    Give some soft data that lets the client see the value of it, and the even bigger value of having deeper data that build and supports the softer stuff that the ELT seems so hung up on.

  • jensie_simkins

    Danny Brown Definitely! I just don’t want them to get too hung up on those “vanity” metrics. Seems like everyone wants to pay you for more Facebook likes and web traffic….

    I also wonder about a timeline-based case study. Something like “with this client, we did this, saw this result after 2 weeks, this after a month, this at 3 months, etc.” to help manage expectations for a realistic timeline that has both short-term and long-term results. Anyone done something like that?

  • Eleanor Pierce Chimps sell. I don’t have a metric for that—just a gut instinct.

  • Preach it, Gini! This is an excellent run-down of what needs to be measured. It might be hard for some companies (especially smaller ones) to do all of this right away, but starting with the basics will certainly help. Then, you can build on it from there. Without measurement, how do you know if your efforts are working?! This is a must.

  • Excellent post! Thank you for taking the time to be so specific. We work hard to report metrics that matter but there is always room for improvement and this post helps! Encore! You made me break out my highlighter again 🙂

  • How did you get to be so smart..?? Harrumph.

  • RobBiesenbach I think you’ve got good instincts, Rob.

  • JasKeller1

    jensie_simkins From my standpoint, the timetable shouldn’t matter anecdotally – it should be tied to whatever the goal of the campaign was. Unless your goals was to do X in 2 weeks, then it shouldn’t be a sticking point in your case studies. 

    The real sell is going to be the final result of the campaign; that moments when you state how the strategy you implemented = the desired goal.
    The managing expectations part won’t come from showing what you did in the short term, but explaining the timeline in detail for the long term; sometimes it takes telling clients about the little devils in the details to get them to understand it is more of a marathon than a sprint.
    Although, if Danny Brown has something to add, it’s probably better than my two cents. 🙂

  • JasKeller1 HA! Nothing from me, mate, except to say you nailed it in your answer. 🙂

  • jensie_simkins

    JasKeller1 Danny Brown That makes sense, though I’m not generally working on anything shorter than a few months. Just want to keep them engaged and not breathing down my neck for results yesterday. 🙂

  • belllindsay lots of whiskey and cigarettes is the legend.

  • jensie_simkins JasKeller1 Danny Brown I am currently advising clients to put all their marketing, advertising and PR spend into 100% facebook ads because then you can at least measure how ineffective they are vs that murky other stuff ginidietrich described.

    Murky other stuff: It didn’t work I wasted my money on you. Sure it worked. My sales were flat. But the campaign worked we added 5000 facebook fans and you were mentioned in pennysaver two weeks running. My sales were flat. Not because our campaign didn’t work. I spent $5k and have no idea where it went.

    Facebook ads solve this stand off! The ads failed. No the report shows 1 gaztrillion impressions. But my copy of the same report showing we only had 7 clicks. But my report shows the success we had from a gaztrillion impressions you got buzz baby! Well my report showed how much they failed but at least I know where my money went….Mark Zuckerberg!

    Ok maybe that wouldn’t solve everything.

  • jensie_simkins

    Howie Goldfarb jensie_simkins JasKeller1 Danny Brown ginidietrich Your comments should come with a “don’t take a bite before reading”. I just made a huge mess.

  • Holy Moly! This is golden, but I’m going to need to read it about five hundred million times to try to get everything out of it.

  • iangertler

    What is the impact of social and innovation? Being able to gain insight from leaders of industry and disciplines like you, Gini … this is an incredible post that illustrates the importance of communication, interaction and understanding of constituents on both a strategic and tactical level. Thank you!

  • Fantastic, thorough post here Gini! The PR industry is getting its arms around measurement and this post offers concrete, actionable guidance on how to get there. I think one thing we can all agree on is that not only do the PR pros need to continue getting educated on metrics, but we need to make a concerted and collective effort to educate our clients and stakeholders. 

    For instance, if the client keeps asking for ad equivalencies, it’s because PR agencies continue to suggest this as a meaningful metric, or at the very least, agree to it because it’s what the client requests. Neither of these positions are okay. PR pros need to explain WHY these antiquated and short lived measurement standards don’t represent true PR value, and offer up meaningful metrics in their place.

    Until we come to standards as an industry, PR will continue to be difficult to validate to those that control the PR budgets.

  • LauraPetrolino Ditto!

  • LauraPetrolino It took me three – THREE – hours to write it. To put that in perspective, a normal blog post takes me less than an hour.

  • belllindsay From my momma and dad?

  • KateFinley Kate. You can’t use your highlighter on your computer.

  • lauraclick This is one of the things I feel like most PR pros leave out…until it’s time to do the awards entries and then they make up goals after the campaign is finished for the results section.

  • ginidietrich LauraPetrolino You should consider micro-contentizing this post… you could easily make 6-8 pieces, including deck, infographic/bite size visuals, Vine/GIF.

  • Really solid Gini. I’ve been thinking a lot about data ecosystems, and the truth is that most people talk about big data and external sources while few have a handle on the correlations / causation within their own ecosystem.
    To accelerate the kind of sustainable growth that your firm does, it’s necessary to understand the internal data ecosystem and the way that paid/earned/owned work separately and together. I commend ya for walking the walk!

  • ginidietrich KateFinley No, you can…but only once.

  • jensie_simkins Howie Goldfarb JasKeller1 Danny Brown ginidietrich  That’s the house rule with Howie around here =)
    jensie_simkins You may want to look into lean metrics. I wrote something about that for Andy Crestodina over at Orbit –
    The deck embedded there has some really interesting implications for how you structure/think about metrics. Particularly in regards to driving behaviors that drive conversions, leads, etc… It’s kind of long at 222 slides (not mine! just one I like & pointed to) but it’s useful in figuring out how to position to clients what they should care about: not leads or prospects but underlying behaviors that drive them. It takes longer but if you effect change w/those the growth is much better and correlations are stronger.

  • JoeCardillo ginidietrich LauraPetrolino I thought the same thing, Joe. This could make for a great eBook or workbook. Or, maybe even downloadable dashboards people could use. So much goodness to repurpose here!

  • ginidietrich Haha! Sad, but true. I haven’t done award entries in a long time, but certainly know what you mean.

    Speaking of awards, this is something I’ve wrestled with lately – are awards valuable? We’ve not focused on them because I’ve been busy building the business. But, I know that it can give social proof to prospects. Personally, I’d rather focus on getting results for clients, but I wonder if I need to think about this. Thoughts? Maybe worth another blog post? I’d be curious to hear what you think.

  • lauraclick I struggle with them, too. But the big brands pay attention to who wins them. So if your goal is to move to that level, it’s probably pretty important to do them.

  • JoeCardillo jensie_simkins Howie Goldfarb JasKeller1 Danny Brown Well, glad that was all handled in my absence.

  • RobBiesenbach Eleanor Pierce I would totally buy from a chimp

  • lauraclick JoeCardillo LauraPetrolino I should charge for it!

  • iangertler I feel like reaching through my screen and hugging you. Thank you!

  • IrisPRMgt I think we could have an entirely different conversation about industry standards. I mean, we have #SMMStandards and IPR and Barcelona. What is the standard? Who claims it? This is a tough one.

  • JoeCardillo In our industry, it’s that whole, “I went into PR because I’m not good at math” thing. Many think that measurement is math, when it’s really data and understanding a buyer’s decision-making process. I think that scares most PR pros.

  • iangertler

    ginidietrich I’ll put it on your “hug tab,” Gini!

  • iangertler

    JoeCardillo ginidietrich LauraPetrolino Absolutely … snackable bites of insight and impact!

  • Wait until you hear how Canadians say “PESO”…

  • ginidietrich JoeCardillo I think you’re right. But being data informed sets us free! And I say that as someone who very much fits the “not good at math” profile. It’s been empowering to let go of that idea I had of myself. 
    Not to the mention the fact that theoretical math and physics are fascinating whether you understand all of the underlying numbers or not.

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  • Andreas Keller

    Some of the best insightful content on integrated comms and measurement I’ve read in a long time. Excellent stuff. Will look into getting your books in Dubai. This is the future and we need to get up to speed on it and help our clients adapt asap.

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  • Isla Oliver

    Good article. And i’m glad reading your article. Thanks for share it.

    Small business web design