how to measure PR

How do you measure the return on investment of a PR campaign? This is a question that we and other PR agencies are constantly asked by current and prospective clients alike. It’s a fair question. Whether you do-it-yourself or hire an agency, public relations will suck up precious time or budget. So you want to know whether it’s worth that investment.

In the past, PR practitioners have relied heavily on putting a value on media coverage. But PR measurement should be about so much more than measuring column inches, because PR itself is about so much more than just generating those column inches. So what should PR measurement encompass – and how should you go about doing it? Well, here are 5 key steps to getting it right.

1. Decide what to measure

Great PR can attract new customers, make commercial partners more likely to approach you, and open up new markets and territories for your business. It can drive visitors to your website and increase the amount of time they spend there as well as helping to capture their details. It can build loyalty to a brand and inspire the internal sales team to shift more products. All of which, ultimately, increases your profit. But none of this is reflected in evaluations of column inches which is why measurement – like your PR - must be rooted in your business objectives.

Your PR machine should be focused on the things that matter to your business – and you should then measure your PR accordingly. For instance you may want:

  • Visitors to your site
  • Lower staff churn
  • More recommendations from customers
  • To be on the first page of Google for certain key terms
  • An increase in your database of contacts
  • People to download certain materials and thus get educated on a specific topic
  • You get the gist. It’s the delivery/support of these kinds of objectives that your PR should be measured against.

2. Integrate

With Google Analytics, social metrics, tools such as Lead Forensics plus companies such as Twilio providing dedicated campaign phone numbers, it has never been easier to connect your PR activity with the resultant action. So make sure you integrate your PR activity into your measurement machine.

3. Monetise

Then try to put a monetary value on the desired action – be it a new name on the database, a site visitor or a down-loader. This will require a bit of guesswork, but some scientific thinking is possible. For instance, in the case of adding people to your database, if you know that you typically convert 0.1% of those on your database and they typically spend £600 and your margin is 20%; that means a profit contribution of £120 from one in every 1000 new database contacts. So a new contact added to your database is worth £0.12. All of a sudden you have some PR measurement that you never had before.

4. Don’t Ignore Media

Of course include media coverage into your measurement mix – after all how you reach and shape hearts and minds is crucial to the success of your business/brand. However this also needs to include social mentions, references on blogs, networks and forums. There are lots of tools and companies such as Radian 6, Brandwatch and Gorkana to help monitor this expanding media landscape.

5. Do Something

Don’t put off measurement because you are trying to develop the perfect PR measurement system. You’ll never achieve it! Better to have it 80% right than not measure at all!

Download our detailed 5 page guide to PR measurement here.