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Blog post
February 24, 2020

How to measure PR: The 3 key pillars

How do you measure the effectiveness of a Public Relation (PR) campaign? In this post we explain some of the key PR metrics used by leading brands to demonstrate PR ROI.

Measuring the success of Public Relations has typically been a difficult task for Communications professionals.

This is because relying on traditional metrics such as reach and impressions in isolation often doesn’t result in a clear, concise understanding of the performance of a PR activity.

So how do you define success in PR? Here are the three key pillars of any PR measurement program.

Pillar 1: Defining your objectives

As a PR professional, it’s important to have a strategic plan that encompasses what your organisation is trying to achieve and how PR will support those goals. 

Strategic planning is a critical first step. This is particularly important when measuring the performance of PR because ROI cannot be measured solely based on traditional metrics alone. 

Are you looking to increase your CEO’s profile among potential stakeholders? Your PR objective could be to arrange speaking opportunities at industry events for your CEO to become known among key audiences.

Is your brand targeting new sectors? Your PR objective could be to pave the way for lead generation with a PR campaign. You could then use other marketing tactics to target your prospects.

Is organisational reputation under threat? Your PR objective could be to improve brand reputation over a set period of time.

Is your organisation launching a new product? Your PR objective could be to focus on awareness and support the marketing organisation in the delivery of a product strategy.

Having a clear and defined strategy can yield a robust and effective PR action plan that will support your business goals.

Pillar 2: Defining PR metrics

In today’s hyperconnected world, the abundance of metrics available to comms and marketing teams can make reporting overwhelming.

On the other hand, choosing your key metrics wisely and getting alignment between these and the set business objectives can lead to measurable PR.

So what are some of the key measures of the effectiveness of a PR campaign?

Mentions

Depending on your objectives, tracking media mentions can be a realistic representation of the performance of your PR campaign. 

With the right tools you can track mentions as they relate to brands, topics, spokespeople and more. Let’s take brand mentions as an example.

Brand mentions, though not directly tied to sales, are essential to understanding the impact of your PR campaign. Here are only some of the key metrics that you can use to examine brand mentions:

Brand mentions by media type

Brand mentions over time

Total cumulative volume of brand mentions

Sentiment related to those brand mentions

Brand mentions by spokespeople 

As an example, in the below chart we have analysed a data set of brand mentions over the space of two weeks. PR teams can leverage such a metric to track the performance of a PR campaign as it relates to message penetration and volumes over key dates.

Measure effectiveness of your PR strategy at key dates
Media coverage over time gives you a view of the effectiveness of your PR strategy at key dates

Your chosen metrics should help you determine if your PR campaign is performing according to plans or if there is an opportunity to pivot your channels, message or other aspects of your activity.

Key outlets

Monitoring your target outlets can be a great way to understand whether your PR message is landing in the right hands and how this is like to resonate with your audience. Not surprisingly, most PR campaigns rely heavily on the successful execution of two key elements:

  1. Consistency of the message
  2. Share of Voice across target channels

Here is how outlet analysis can help you visualise message penetration, without employing manual processes.

PR monitoring by publication
Media outlet analysis helps you measure PR effectiveness by publication

The same data can give you insights into the potential reach of those channels, adding more context and measurable output to your reporting.

Measure of the potential reach of you PR content
Media outlet analysis can give you an important measure of the potential reach of you PR content

Share of Voice 

Employing Share of Voice as part of your PR reporting toolkit can shed some light on the performance of a particular message or topic over another. Whether you are tracking brands, industries, or other topics, Share of Voice can help you identify:

Volume of mentions for one topic over another (and over time)

Volume of mentions of one topic over another as it relates to sentiment

Volume of mentions by media type / channel (Example below)

Other key metrics that can help you contextualise your media coverage

PR monitoring by share of voice
Share of Voice can help you measure the effectiveness of a PR campaign by campaign

Geography

Understanding the geographical extent of your PR effort is vital in order to assess the effectiveness of your campaign. In fact, whatever the objectives of your overall strategy are, most organisations have a very specific geographical reach or target.

Measure the geographical effectiveness of your PR strategy
Location charts can be utilised to measure the geographical effectiveness of your PR strategy

Location charts can help you identify where your message is landing and the geographical impact of your PR campaign. Your location report should include major metropolitan as well as regional outlets. 

Pillar 3: Tracking and Reporting

After you have identified the objectives and key metrics of your PR plan, define your tracking and reporting methodology.

Too often, reporting is seen as a tedious task to be carried out upon campaign conclusion. Tracking and reporting, if done correctly, can be an effective way to identify areas of improvement and opportunities to give your campaign the best chances of success. When defining the methodology of your PR tracking and reporting framework, consider:

  • Responsibilities: Who will be in charge of tracking and reporting on the various metrics?
  • System: Define what tools your team is going to use to measure PR and share the results with the various stakeholders. These can be as basic as shared spreadsheets or more comprehensive PR monitoring tools.
  • Cadence: Define the intervals of your tracking and reporting. When is the team going to look at and report on the various metrics?
  • Audience: Who will be the audience of your reports? Will this be shared externally (Perhaps with clients) or internally (Executive / leadership teams)?
  • Adjustment: What will be the process for analysing the results and adjusting your strategy throughout the campaign.

Conclusion

In this article we discovered the three pillars of a PR measurement plan and discussed how measuring PR doesn’t only come down solely to analysing data. 

Defining your goals, setting your metrics and having a tracking and reporting system in place are the essential components that any PR and Communication team should take into account.

Isentia is APAC’s leading media intelligence provider, empowering PR and communications teams with the tools they need to make great decisions. For more information or to see our platform in action, schedule a demo today!

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