For years, the PR industry has struggled with how to effectively measure PR in a standardized manner.
Unlike advertising, where a few key metrics clearly define success, PR’s complex, relationship-based structure makes identifying metrics for widespread adoption far more challenging.
Because “you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” metrics are crucial to PR pros’ success. How can PR pros solve the industry’s problem and quantify efforts that have historically been difficult to measure?
Let’s begin with the right question: What are the metrics that matter to those who matter?
PR has the ability to “touch” many aspects of the customer journey, so we can’t look at measurement through a one-to-one, transactional lens. PR pros should not be forced to define success or failure based on one element only, such as media placement, impressions or site traffic.
Effective measurement of PR efforts must employ a series of metrics in place that accounts for all the places where PR pros can affect a customer’s journey.
PR is no longer just the top of the funnel contributor, so its performance metrics must adjust to reflect the influence PR has along every touch point, as shown below:
If we are clear about what matters to colleagues, executives and PR teams, we can organize a spectrum of PR metrics into three key areas where measurement is technologically attainable.
These key areas include:
1. Baseline metrics
2. Brand metrics
3. Business metrics
Metrics closer to the top of the funnel are more aligned with brand awareness. As one goes down the “metric funnel,” you get closer and closer to metrics that impact your organization’s bottom line.
All these metrics have validity, but the numbers PR pros focus on should directly align with primary outcomes identified from onsets of every campaign.
So, how can PR pros start to integrate this funnel of metrics into their workflow?
To identify which metrics in the funnel might serve you best, explicitly answer these questions about your PR activities:
1. Content: What format should I choose based on the audience I’m trying to reach? (Text, image, video, a combo, etc.)
2. Channel: What conduit should I use to deliver my content to best reach my target audience? (Earned media, owned media, newswire, direct pitch, etc.)
3. Measurement: How am I defining success? (Story pick up, message pull-through, traffic back to site, etc.)
This simple exercise, when done diligently, can exponentially increase the probability of your PR efforts’ success and makes it clear which metrics in the funnel you should gather data against.
If your goal is to have as many people as possible encounter your news, you probably should focus on baseline metrics. If your work is aimed at generating leads or interest via your website, business metrics should be where you measure success.
Don’t feel that you have to choose only one metric from the funnel. Multiple metrics, reported together, can convey the full story of PR’s impact—but be clear about your primary and secondary PR outcomes before selecting metrics.
When these metrics work together, PR pros can be empowered to dig into signals that identify relationships worth cultivating, topics worth discussing, messages that resonate and how your organization’s public facing image is perceived.