How to Measure PR



Apr 04, 2024

Read Time

min read


Apr 04, 2024

Read Time

min read

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PR and reputation PR measurement should align with your business and marketing objectives Which PR measurement metrics are most important? Offsite On the search engine results pages (SERPs) Onsite How do you measure something less tangible, like reputation and influence? Social listening Search listening Surveys

PR’s reputation for being hard to measure has persevered. Unfairly, if you ask us. Yes it’s true, compared to channels like PPC and programmatic advertising (where absolutely everything is measured), it appears less concrete. A gamble, even. But if you understand PR, and it’s done well… it’s not.

It’s actually one of the most important channels of all.  Don’t just take it from us…

“If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations” – Bill Gates

PR and reputation

PR performs a different role to paid and owned channels, where you control the narrative and can forecast based on cost per click and conversion rate. Your brand can appear anywhere and everywhere if your pockets are deep enough.

Earning your way into conversations without paying or incentivising is a challenge. You have to have a really good story, or something valuable to contribute to the discourse. Journalists and other gatekeepers can smell self-promotion a mile off, so if they do talk about you, it’s because they endorse what you’re saying. It’s harder, because it’s more authentic.

How do people talk about you when you’re not around? That’s the real question PR can help you answer.

Let’s measure!

PR measurement should align with your business and marketing objectives

Are you launching a new product? Do you want to reach a new audience, or perhaps change your current audience’s perception of you? Do you need to improve your employer brand to compete for your industry’s top talent? Grow sales? PR can be deployed to support any and all of these goals (plus many more).

PR shouldn’t be operating in a vacuum. When your business has a north star, the strategy can be set accordingly. For example, to grow sales, you may need to improve your online presence. Therefore a digital PR strategy to boost your organic search traffic could be required. Conversely, if your business goal is to attract investment, a comms strategy targeting profile-building and business press may be more appropriate.

Which PR measurement metrics are most important?

Once you have your objectives, you can decide which metrics will best help you track that progress. Research shows that PRs track 8 metrics on average, but focusing on too many could result in analysis paralysis – so keep in mind which ones will really demonstrate whether activity is having its intended impact. This will focus activity on the right things.

We tend to measure metrics in three groupings: offsite, on the SERPs (search engine results pages) and onsite. Your ideal KPIs will be a blend across at least two of these:

  • Offsite
  • On the search engine results pages (SERPs)
  • Onsite


These metrics relate to any activity that specifically measures the quality, relevance and search value of media coverage, whichever channel is it published on. Are trusted, authoritative sources talking about you? And how regularly? This will include a blend of metrics like:

  • Pieces of coverage
  • Readership, circulation and estimated views
  • Audience relevance of the publication
  • Brand mentions
  • Key messages included
  • Spokesperson included
  • Domain Authority, Authority Score or Trust Flow of the publication
  • Links secured, and whether they were follow or nofollow (noopener, noreferrer)
  • Link destination
  • Anchor text

On the search engine results pages (SERPs)

Any Digital PR programme will be tracking metrics like these: they’re indicative of how visible your website is in Google’s search results. How are you being ranked, for what keywords and how often? And crucially, how do you fair against your competitors? These metrics are influenced by your on and offsite activity, and the quality of your website:

  • Keyword rankings for target keywords
  • Search visibility (%)
  • Share of search (i.e. the % of keywords you rank for vs your competitors). This is the equivalent of ‘share of voice’ or ‘share of market’ for organic search.
  • Clicks and click through rate
  • Impressions
  • Branded searches (as a proxy for brand awareness)


This set of metrics relate to how people behave when they reach your website. This is the group you have the most visibility and control over, but in order to grow website traffic, offsite activity is crucial.

  • Organic traffic
  • Direct traffic
  • Clicks from coverage
  • Campaign content views
  • Onsite engagement (i.e. time on site, pages per visit, video views)
  • Data capture (i.e. newsletter sign ups, contact us forms completed, white paper downloads)
  • Sales and conversions

There’s an interdependent relationship between the three groups of metrics, so tracking each can give a more balanced picture of what’s working and what’s not.

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How do you measure something less tangible, like reputation and influence?

Specific business objectives call for specific measurement and KPIs. Your audience may be very small or niche, or the goal may be to change perception or establish yourself in a new market.

So how do you measure these kinds of objectives, like a change of heart, that may not leave a digital footprint? Frustratingly, yes – it’s harder. But harder doesn’t mean impossible. It certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the activity in the first place.

  • Social listening
  • Search listening
  • Surveys

Social listening

Qualitative data can be very powerful. Monitor how many people are talking about your brand, and in what context? Is the overriding sentiment positive or negative?

On a graph of reactions, comments or reach – the strength of feeling can get completely lost. In reports, make sure that you have screenshots of genuine comments that show how your content or campaign has been received. Comments from real people can reinforce that there’s real people at the heart of what we do. This can easily be forgotten when you’re knee-deep in data and spreadsheets.

Search listening

One way to gain insight into how your brand is perceived is to look at how people search for your brand, and the words and phrases used alongside those searches. For example, what brands do they compare you to, with ‘brand X or brand Y’ kind of searches? Do you have any negative recurring themes, like ‘is brand X good quality’, or ‘why is brand X so expensive’.

Take a snapshot of this data every 6 – 12 months and compare. Target yourself on whether the change in perception you’re working towards is actually happening.


It would be ideal to follow people who’ve read a blog of yours or seen you in The Times, and ask them what they think of you, or whether they recall seeing your name at all. Instagram already has a version of this. Meta have “ad recall surveys” that you can run, where it asks people that have been served one of your ads whether they recall seeing it two days later.

Typically brand surveys can be expensive. However there are a few lower cost options, like Google Surveys, Survey Monkey or other onsite survey tools to ask a few snappy questions.

Hopefully this guide has given you plenty of hope and inspiration that PR can be measured. As always, it begins with your objectives, then taking metrics from your toolkit that relate to those objectives. Don’t measure anything for the sake of it, and definitely don’t waste time creating reports that no one reads. Make snappy reports using insight (NOT just data!), that allow people to take action.

And one final point – if you don’t enjoy reporting, you’re doing it wrong.


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  • My Nametags has worked with Energy PR for years, and they keep delivering excellent PR work for us

    They do a great job in coming up with good ideas and executing them. My Nametags is trying to reach parents and consumers, and we have had articles and coverage on BBC, ITV, Sky, BBC Radio, Sun, Express and Mirror to mention some.

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    It’s taken our practice in the sector to a whole other level and prompted concrete business opportunities. So many people I speak to have seen the report. We’re now automatically recognised and come to as specialists in this area – which is fantastic.

    - Liz Sparrow | Partner, Science and Tech Lead

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    Energy PR have been an absolute pleasure to work with. They are enthusiastic, incredibly polite and are always prompt in response. They secured us bigger coverage of our show than we could have imagined and would highly recommend any company to use them.

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  • Comprehensive and thorough understanding of our business, vision and objectives

    I have been working with Energy PR for the best part of a decade. Over that time, Energy have developed a comprehensive and thorough understanding of our business, vision and objectives. This enables them to come up with relevant, tailored messaging and campaigns for each of the audiences that we target.

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    Since Energy PR has been managing our socials, the level of interaction, from quality leads, has been unbelievable. Being able to build my personal presence online, whilst also generating new business leads has been eye opening. I am more excited than ever to see what magic Team Energy can sprinkle over my account, and the Crossflow company account, as we move forward.

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