Public relations pros have always struggled to measure their effectiveness of increased visibility or reputation management for clients.
PR pros once tried to meet the demand for measurement through convoluted attempts to demonstrate their worth. Clippings were counted, column inches were compared to advertising and magazine circulation was boosted by “pass-along” circulation to inflate the number of readers.
However, the online revolution changed everything. Public relations is no longer just unpaid publicity, but now includes social media, corporate blogs and website development.
PR pros can use the following two measurements to quantify the benefits of their efforts.:
Google Analytics and website measurement
The strength of a company’s website—the anchor of online publicity—can be measured with two different parameters: traffic and engagement.
Traffic is measured by how many unique visitors come to your website in any given month. That number provides a bottom-line measurement for the success of any SEO campaign. Measuring engagement is more complex. It provides a picture of what people do when they actually get to your site. How many pages do they visit? How long do they stay?
You can attract enormous amounts of traffic, but if visitors aren’t intrigued and don’t make any purchases, it won’t do you any good.
Google Analytics measures both traffic and engagement including unique visitors, average time on site, page views per visit and bounce rate. The bounce rate provides a particularly telling statistic: It’s the percentage of people who visit one page of your website and leave before visiting other pages. A large volume of traffic and a high bounce rate suggests very good SEO but a dull website.
Improving traffic and engagement online is accomplished through inbound marketing or “pull PR.” Your prospects find your organization because you’ve positioned your site to rank well in search engine results. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, can backfire online and brand you as a spammer. Instead, “push PR,” which includes press releases and other traditional approaches, must be modified for digital audiences.
You can also use basic techniques to improve engagement after visitors finally reach your site. Slideshows boost the amount of time visitors spend on a site, and corporate blogs attract and intrigue visitors, creating an entirely independent entryway into your site in the process.
Increasing your website’s “inbound links,” the clickable text on other websites that point to your own, is another fundamental technique to improve your search engine ranking. But be careful, Google also evaluates the quality of the links. A link from The New York Times will help much more than one from a local newspaper. Links related to your field as well as to pages other than your home page (deep links) will improve your search engine ranking as well.
You can also create a “media room” on your website for your press releases, bylined articles, videos and other online media. Publishing new web pages creates a dynamic website, which Google likes.
Klout and social media measurement
Social media provides unique platforms for online publicity along with easy measurement tools. Just as Google Analytics provides the last word for website traffic and engagement, Klout can do the same for social media.
Klout measures online influence on a scale of 1 to 100; any score above 40 is respectable and more than 50 is exceptional. Klout is extremely sensitive to changes in your daily activities such as the number of your posts and your engagement with other people online. It transcends the actual number of your followers to measure how much and how powerfully you are interacting with them. Amassing thousands of followers without any other interactions will result in a poor Klout score.
You can do many things to improve your Klout score. Facebook ads can significantly improve the number of likes on your company Facebook page and costs as little as $5 per day.
Check Twitter notifications, and make sure, like all social media platforms, you stay on top of interactions and reciprocate to increase engagement. If someone retweets one of your posts, interact with their content. The use of Twitter lists can help engagement on Twitter as well.
Google Plus provides its own notifications, or you can use Circloscope for mass circling and sharing in Google Plus, which generates more followers through reciprocation.
Marketing on LinkedIn revolves around original content. Apply to the LinkedIn blog, and once accepted, publish “long-form content.” This includes at least 1,000 words, plenty of images and outbound links to authoritative articles. Engage in groups on LinkedIn as well, leaving comments where appropriate.
Social media can exhaust huge amounts but limit yourself to one hour per day. You will become more productive over time, using tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts on multiple platforms and cutting time spent.
Using these methods, PR pros can measure online strategies and turn what once were vague efforts into highly effective analytics.