How to Measure PR



Apr 04, 2024

Read Time

min read


Apr 04, 2024

Read Time

min read

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Why does everyone say PR is hard to measure? 5 steps to effective PR measurement: 1. Decide what KPIs to measure 2. Integrate measurement tools 3. Monetise your results 4. Don’t ignore media 5. Start measuring ASAP So, how do you measure the ROI of 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?

Why does everyone say PR is hard to measure?

PR’s all about perception and reputation. The end goal is typically focused on how people feel, whether that’s building awareness, influencing attitudes, improving credibility or cultivating relationships. This makes PR measurement particularly tricky. Because how do you measure someone’s feelings?

To solve this problem, many PR agencies just measure coverage. It’s a simple enough way of determining whether PR activity is working. But how much can a list of publications really tell you about the success of a campaign?

Instead, you should align your PR with your company strategy, and measure what matters to you.

5 steps to effective PR measurement:

  1. Decide what KPIs to measure
  2. Integrate measurement tools
  3. Monetise your results
  4. Don’t ignore media
  5. Start measuring ASAP

1. Decide what KPIs 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 measurement tools

With Google Analytics, social metrics, tools such as Lead Forensics and companies like Twilio providing dedicated campaign phone numbers, it’s never been easier to connect your PR activity with the resultant action. So make sure you integrate your PR activity into your measurement. If you’re after more info on analytics tools, we’d recommend this blog by Prezly.


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3. Monetise your results

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 Meltwater, Brandwatch and Gorkana to help monitor this expanding media landscape.

5. Start measuring ASAP

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

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So, how do you measure the ROI of PR?

It completely depends on your company’s context. You could be facing a crisis that’s damaging your reputation. You could’ve just launched a new product and need to boost awareness and drive sales. Or you could be establishing your employer brand. All are completely unique challenges with different PR requirements and goals.

So to measure your ROI, you need to first work out the ultimate goal of your PR. Why are you doing PR? Are you aiming to bolster your newsletter database? Increase incoming leads? Resolve a publicity crisis? Once you’ve got this, assign a monetary value to the action. As already mentioned, this may take some guesswork – especially if your goal is around changing perceptions. But your existing company data and results can help steer your thinking. And if you’re working with a PR agency, they’ll be able to help.

(P.S. if you can’t work out why you’re doing PR, you probably shouldn’t be investing in it in the first place!)


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