When it comes to PR metrics and measurement, it seems that everyone can talk the talk. But how about walking the walk? Accurately measuring the return on investment (ROI) of your PR efforts is no easy task. The Barcelona Principles (nicely summarized in”The Principles of PR Measurement by Ketchum Global Research & Analytics“) are a great foundation, but they don’t tell you how to get started. Here are four hands-on PR metrics you can use to measure the ROI of your PR campaigns. Best of all, you can start using them today. Measure interactions with your pitch If you aren’t measuring how recipients interact with your pitches, you should be. Keeping track of interactions will tell you which messages resonate best with your media contacts (as well as which ones fall flat), helping you refine your pitches over time. Every time you send out a new pitch, ask the following questions:
• Out of all the contacts on my email list, how many received the email, opened it, forwarded it to colleagues, and clicked on the link? Pro Tip: Most email activity happens within the first two hours of delivery. • How many contacts replied to my pitch and asked for more information? • After I’ve posted my pitch on social media, how many of my fans and followers replied, clicked, retweeted, and shared?
Try collecting every metric in a simple spreadsheet for all your campaigns. This will make it easy to compare and evaluate performance later. Many tools, including the ones we recommend below, have simple export-to-Excel features, making it easy and fast to get everything into one spreadsheet. To get you started, take a look at the spreadsheet template we’re using. In addition to helping you keep track of PR performance, it’s a great report to share with your clients. Thankfully you don’t have to call your entire contact list to know how they’re interacting with your pitches. Accessing this data is surprisingly simple if you have the right tools. Here are two favorites:
Measure the coverage of your social media, Web, and print outreach We’re all familiar with the tactic of collecting press clippings for print media coverage. Measuring social media and other online mentions takes a little more planning. Here are the questions you should ask:
• How many people are talking about my news? • Who are the people talking about my news, and how influential are they? • Which medium is talking about my news, and how popular is this medium?
I have been playing around with Mention, and it looks promising. As the name suggests, Mention tracks the mentions of a keyword on both social media and the Web. This gives you one integrated tool to see all the mentions you receive across many different channels. Use these PR metrics to determine ROI Measuring your media coverage is just the start. What you really must know is whether that coverage has resulted in dollars and cents, increased brand awareness, or new leads. To that end, every PR campaign you run should have a clearly defined Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that helps you gauge the campaign’s success. Your KPI should be easy to measure and quick to report on, and you have to be able to check on it at least once a day. Here are a few common KPIs many companies use to measure the success of their PR initiatives:
• New social media followers; • New referral links; • Increased organic website traffic; or • New leads or signups.
Measure the long-term effect of your coverage The previous PR metrics in this article will help you measure the temporary boost your campaigns will generate. Although it’s satisfying to see immediate results from your PR efforts, it’s just as important to measure their effectiveness over longer periods of time. These questions will help you understand the long-term effect your campaigns are having:
• How has my social media footprint grown during the past few weeks, months, and years? Have I increased my follower count, interactions, and shares? • How have my Google rankings improved? Am I ranking better on certain keywords? • Is my website seeing steady growth of organic traffic through referrals, search engines, and social media?
Followerwonk is a simple tool that helps you track the increase in your social media followers. How to determine your Google rankings is another post in itself, but Open Site Explorer will give you some good basic info on your page authority, Page Rank, and top performing subpages. Measuring PR success doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated.
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There are plenty of free, easy-to-use tools that will help you gather the PR metrics you need in order to meet your specific goals. Not every metric outlined here will be relevant for every PR campaign. However you measure success, you should be able to learn something from every pitch email, every media mention, and every fan interaction. Gijs Nelissen is co-founder at Prezly, a press release publication and distribution service. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn. A version of this story originally appeared on Spin Sucks.