7 crucial PR metrics to gauge

The author believes respect comes from robust measurement. She offers guidance on tracking more relevant benchmarks, such as improved margins, scale potential and increased revenue.

Why doesn’t PR get more respect?

The main reasons, Muck Rack CEO Greg Galant says, are:

  • It’s not trackable.
  • PR pros have a terrible reputation problem with journalists.
  • You can’t scale it.

Does that sound about right?

There’s also the issue of fluffy metrics, such as Facebook fans, number of media interviews, media impressions and the dreaded advertising value equivalents. Of course, there is something to be said for gauging certain “vanity” PR metrics.

It’s difficult to measure brand awareness and the effectiveness of traditional PR, so we must find ways to measure our efforts in ways that are meaningful to the executives paying us.

Below are the types of activities you can measure by vanity (brand awareness) and data-driven (business objectives) below. Start tracking these metrics, and you’ll gain respect:

Vanity metric: media relations

Media relations doesn’t mean just working with journalists; it also entails blogger and influencer relations.

Thanks to the web, we can track how many times an article, blog post or piece of content was shared. You can figure out how many people saw it, shared it and read it.

You must learn your way around Google Analytics. (That’s non-negotiable.) Track traffic, views and social media sharing. Report to your executives the value each campaign generates.

Vanity metric: customer relations

There is a huge opportunity to build one-on-one relationships with customers online.

Social media enables us to connect, engage and chat. In this case, fans, friends, connections, followers and viewers make sense to track—when combined with data-driven metrics that quantify meaningful interactions.

Vanity metric: scaleability

One issue Greg Galant raised for the industry is that PR can’t “scale.” That was true in the old days—even just five years ago. Today, however, is a different story.

PR pros are being tasked with boosted posts, promoted tweets and Outbrain. In the past, those resources would have been considered “paid media,” so they would have lived under the advertising roof. Today, PR pros are increasingly spending time with these tools.

Facebook, Twitter and Outbrain all provide analytics to support your social media purchases, so there’s no excuse not to track your efforts.

Data metric: ‘Big Data’

If you have strong command of all the data at your fingertips—and can present it in a way that appeals to your paymasters—you’ll be able to influence high-level decisions on product, market positioning and more. Anyone can present gobs of numbers. Take time to extract the most compelling stories, narratives and takeaways behind the data.

If your data parsing skills are weak, consider taking online courses through Coursera or Cognitive Class.

Data metric: shortened sales cycle

If you’re in a consumer business, this is less important to you, but in a B2B organization, a sales cycle could be anywhere from two days to two years.

Work with your sales team to figure out how long the average sale takes, and set a goal to beat it. If it typically takes 10 months, set your goal for nine months.

The best way to shorten a sales cycle is to create valuable, interesting content that’s shared where your prospects hang out: email, social media, stadiums, subways, websites and so on.

The better your content, the more likely your prospects are to read it. The more likely they are to read it (or view it or listen to it), the more likely they are to buy from you.

PR pros have ultimate control of this.

Data metric: improved margins

If you don’t work for a public-sector organization, I recommend staying away from this one.

If you do, however, the easiest way to determine your effect on margins is to track how much revenue you generated. Then subtract your budget, your salary and your benefits (if you work for a PR firm, subtract your budget).

The resulting number is the revenue you’ll use for reporting. Have your finance team help you figure out the margins from there. If you increased revenue by more than what you spent, you can pretty much guarantee you improved margins, too.

Data metric: increased revenue

If you don’t work for a public company, getting access to specific revenue goals may prove difficult. If revenue goals are visible, figure out how you can affect growth.

If you have e-commerce, your campaigns will drive traffic to landing pages where people can buy. If you don’t sell online, your content, email, social media and media relations can be measured through the leads you generate. Analyze how you nurture leads, and measure how you help sales convert them.

Gain access to the customer relationship management program so you know exactly where each lead comes from, and whether they convert. You must have access to the software the organization uses so you can track your efforts. That’s how you determine how much money you’re driving for the business.

Include PR metrics in everything

If you work in PR, you must learn new skills, such as how to incorporate PR metrics into your work and how to present data in meaningful ways.

At some point, executives might abandon PR tactics and opt for more measurable strategies. Don’t let that happen.

PR pros must learn how to take advantage of the web to track the real activities that sustain a business. If you’d like to gain credibility, earn respect and get a better seat at the table, focus on tracking more substantive, meaningful metrics.

Gini Dietrich is CEO of Arment Dietrich. of A version of this post first appeared on Spin Sucks.

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