How to measure the results of a PR campaign?

Marta
November 16, 2020 ・ 12 min read

This post was updated on November 16th, 2020, for a brand new PR measurement methodology.

Do you measure the results of your PR campaigns? If yes, then congrats, you’re one of the few! According to Buffer, 82% of PR pros don’t know how to evaluate the ROI of their PR campaign. This article will help you determine how to measure the results of a PR campaign.

This blog post has everything you need to know about PR measurement. The text will answer both basic and more advanced questions – starting with why you should measure the results of a PR campaign and ending with which PR measure metrics should you follow and why. 

“Does PR work?” – that’s probably a question you had to answer at least once. 

The question is justified – before any company invest in a PR campaign, they have to estimate a ROI. They have to answer the question — what is the monetary value of public relations? How will measuring PR translate into business results?

Back in the day, it was easy to assess the value of media coverage coming from traditional media.

The rise of social media platforms and online advertising revolutionised the way we measure PR.

Digital marketing and PR helps spread brand awareness and increase the reach of your PR messages. But the digitalisation brought new challenges PR pros have to cope with – how should they measure the results of their PR campaign? Which metrics and KPIs should they follow to get actionable insights? What is the impact of their work?

Measuring your PR campaign can be tricky, but it is not impossible. 

Armed with the PR measurement knowledge, you will be able to:

  • assess the results of your PR efforts, 
  • improve your PR campaigns, 
  • present the results of your activities to your supervisors
  • improve media coverage and communications
  • prepare reports for your supervisors and C-suite

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Here’s what I’ll cover in this blog post:

  • How to measure a PR campaign?
  • Metrics to track in PR measurement
  • How to measure a PR campaign?
  • PR measurement tools
  • Why measure the results of your PR campaign?
  • Benefits of PR measurement
  • PR measurement in a nutshell
  • How to measure a PR campaign?

    To correctly measure PR, you need a media monitoring tool. A tool like that will help you closely follow important KPIs and asses the impact of PR on your business.

    The more advanced metrics, for example, sentiment analysis, impressions reach, or the share of voice are based on results from Brand24, a media monitoring tool. 

    How does Brand24 work? Brand monitoring tools track all publicly available mentions and analyse the data. With the help of a brand monitoring tool you can measure paid and earned media.

    First, you have to set up a project and choose the terms you’d like to monitor. Once you’ve chosen the keywords (think about company hashtags, campaign specific hashtags, or terms related to the industry you’re interested in), you are ready to measure PR campaign.

    Measure the results of a PR campaign! We offer a 14-day free trial. No credit card required. 

    Planning

    The first step to a successful PR campaign is planning. 

    Without clearly defined, measurable goals, you won’t be able to assess your PR campaign and improve your communications and business goals.

    Once you know what you want to achieve, you could prepare a PR strategy to achieve your goals. 

    Do you want to raise brand awareness? Spark interest in new products? Make your audience undertake a specific action? Check the sentiment around your new service or product? Assess the success of a campaign?

    Before you start your PR activities, invest your time in setting your goals.

    Tools

    Remember to set up all the tools you’re going to use in advance, even if that’s just an Excel spreadsheet. 

    First of all, you will minimise the risk of failure. Imagine coming up with a great PR campaign that won’t be measured because the tool wasn’t working. Ouch. 

    The second thing you have to take into account is that not all tools provide historical data at a reasonable price.

    Track PR campaign! Start free trial (no credit card required)

    From my experience, it’s better to have everything tested before the start of a campaign. The “better safe than sorry” rule applies to measuring PR campaigns as well. 

    Metrics to track in PR measurement

    Once you know what the goal of your campaign is, it’s time to finally take a closer look at the PR campaign metrics. 

    In the world that produces astounding amount of data daily, it’s hard to choose the right PR metrics to follow – information that will provide you actionable insights into your PR campaign. 

    Beware of the lure of vanity metrics – numbers that look great in an Excel spreadsheet but won’t bring any value to your PR campaign.

    So, which metrics should you pay special attention to?

    1. Brand mentions

    Let’s start with the basics. 

    Brand mentions, or the volume of mentions, indicate how many times the name of your company, your hashtag, or any other word you monitor while running a PR campaign, has been mentioned online within a given timeframe. 

    a graph showing the number of online mentions, a PR campaign metric

    Measure the results of a PR campaign

    If the main goal of your PR campaign is to raise awareness, keep an eye on the volume of mentions. 

    The spikes will indicate that your audience is talking about your product or action. 

    2. Sentiment

    The outtakes of a PR campaign are all about the feelings your audience has toward your message. 

    In the past, you could only guess how people feel about certain products, services, or messages. 

    For example, if someone left your website quickly, it probably meant he wasn’t interested in the content. A high bounce rate could have indicated a misfired content that wasn’t answering your audience needs. 

    a graph showing the sentiment of online mentions, a PR campaign measurement metric

    Track the effectiveness of a PR campaign

    Today, we have much more accurate ways to track the sentiment around your brand. 

    The language people use while discussing a certain topic online is analysed. Based on the analyses of the words and emojis used in the post, a positive, negative, or neutral sentiment is assigned to the post. 

    A high volume of mentions and positive sentiment is a sign of success. It not only means people are spreading the news about you, it also means they are happy about your message or activity.  

    When the negative sentiment prevails, it’s an indicator of a crisis in the making. You should react accordingly by implementing changes into your PR campaign and addressing the controversial issues. 

    3. Engagement

    Negative talk is not the worse that could happen to your social media campaign. 

    The worst thing that could happen is not sparking any type of conversation at all. 

    Your blog post, email outreach campaign, newsletter, event wasn’t interesting enough for people to talk about it. That could hurt your reputation as a PR strategist more than a campaign with a negative outcome. 

    a table showing the engagement metrics, important while measuring a PR campaign

    Measure the engagement around PR campaign

    Which PR metric should you track to measure the engagement around your PR content?

    If you’re active on social media channels, examine the number of likes, comments, and shares under your social media posts. 

    The higher engagement rates under your post, the more visible the post will be on social media channels. 

    You can encourage people to leave comments, use dedicated hashtags, or simply like your post.

    But the most reliable way to build an engaged community around your brand is to provide the right content to the right people regularly. 

    4. Reach

    Once you know what type of content sparks engagement and you deliver it regularly, it’s time to measure how many people could have seen your posts.

    Which PR metric helps you determine that number?

    Reach!

    Reach can be divided into two subgroups — social reach and non-social reach.

    Social media reach will calculate how far your social media posts traveled. Brand24 collects data from all major social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, and YouTube.

    a graph showing a PR campaign measurement metric called social media reach

    Measure reach of your PR campaign

    Brand24 gives you the opportunity to measure reach outside social media. If you want to measure PR campaigns that focus on other media outlets, the tool will help you track the right KPIs.

    When it comes to PR outcomes, where you want to influence people to undertake certain actions, reach is your starting point. 

    Before you get a chance to influence someone’s behaviour, your need to reach them with your message. 

    A high reach is the first step to a successful PR campaign. 

    5. The share of voice

    PR campaigns are all about hitting the right people with the right message at the right time.

    In an ideal world, you would achieve all of this before your competitors.

    Calculating the share of voice for your brand is one of the most important business KPIs. The SoV will tell you what portion of the whole online discussion was generated by a certain public profile.

    You can use this data to assess your communications plan. Is your message reaching the right audience?

    print screen showing share of voice, one of the metrics needed to measure PR campaign

    Track PR campaign! Start your first project!

    Armed with that information, you could analyse the online talk in more detailed way.

    You can spot the most prominent platforms right away and work with them to promote your business or product even more. 

    The share of voice will help you determine your brand awareness and will provide you with a ton of information about your audience, such as the engagement levels or the social platforms they like the most.

    6. Website traffic

    Even though more and more PR campaigns take place on different social media channels, your website is still an important platform for PR outreach. 

    Log in to Google Analytics and take a closer look at your site traffic analytics. 

    Are there any spikes in the number of leads that reacted to your call to action from your website?

    When analysing your website performance, take a closer look at qualified leads and referrals. 

    a print screen from Google Analytics showing the website traffic, an important PR measurement campaign metric

    Qualified leads are unique visitors who looked you up in search engines, and, from there, found your website. 

    A referral heard about you from someone else and they are interested in your product, service, or message. 

    You have to know where your potential buyers come from. The easiest way to track the user path in GA to use trackable links – for example GA Link Builder. 

    Another interesting metric you’ll find in GA is the bounce rate. The bounce rate tells you how many people have left your website after viewing just one site.

    A high bounce rate is an indicator of bad outtakes of your PR campaign. Your audience might not be happy with the content of your website.

    7. E-mail metrics

    PR campaigns are not only focused on spreading the message to the wide audience. Sometimes, to achieve your goals, you have to reach a precisely targeted audience.

    That’s where an e-mail database comes to the rescue!

    You’ve probably spend some time and a lot of effort on building the perfect e-mail list.

    Now, you have to check the metrics connected to your PR e-mail database!

    How many e-mail with your message were open? How many responses did you receive? Can you track how many times your email has been forwarded?

    To properly assess the results of your PR campaign, you have to take into account these metrics.

    PR measurement tools

    To successfully measure your public relations campaign, you need the right set of tools.

    The data above is based on one of the most robust and affordable public relations measurement tools on the market — Brand24. Of course, that’s not the only option. We prepared a short list of other PR measurement tools, to give you a better overview of your options!

    Brand24

    Brand24 offers a lot of insights and features you can use in your every day work as a PR professional.

    Brand24 is a media monitoring tool that offers a strong analytical and reporting features.

    You start with creating a project. Enter all the keywords you want to track across the Internet. Brand24 covers sources such as:

    • social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Twitch
    • blogs, forums, and review sites
    • news sites
    • podcasts
    • newsletters
    • other publicly available Web sources

    But the PR tool offers much more than just mention collection. The social listening tool also offers a robust analytics section that includes:

    • the volume of mentions
    • sentiment analysis
    • social and non-social reach
    • social media interactions
    • the most popular mentions
    • top public profiles
    print screen showing data you can use to measure PR campaign

    You can get the most important information straight to your inbox via email notifications, Storm alerts, or in-app notifications.

    Sharing the results of your work is a piece of cake. You can prepare a customisable PDF report that contains the most important metrics and insights that will show the results of your work.

    Brand24 starts at $49 and offers a 14-day free trial.

    Brandwatch

    Brandwatch is a media monitoring tool that will give you all the insights you need to make informed decisions regarding your public relations campaigns and general communications success. It applies deep learning algorithms to analyse the data gathered online. Unfortunately, the public relations tool doesn’t reveal its pricing, but the cheapest plan starts at around $800.

    SEMrush

    SEMrush is a SEO tool but you can use to measure your PR campaign. SEMrush will help you see the keywords your websites are ranking for. The tool will also help you assess your performance compared to your main competitors.

    Competitor analysis will help you identify your strong and pain points and position yourself as an industry expert.

    SEMrush starts at $99 per month.

    Google Analytics

    Do you know anyone who doesn’t know GA? It’s an absolute must-have for anyone working in marketing and public relations.

    GA will give you all the information you need about the traffic to your website. The PR measurement tool will tell where your audience comes from, what is their gender, and what devices do they use.

    Moreover, the tool allows to build custom reports that will suit your needs perfectly.

    The best news? It’s free!

    Why measure the results of your PR campaign?

    Why should we keep a close track of the outcomes of your PR campaign?

    One of the most important rules for every analyst states: you can’t improve any action, if you don’t measure the results.

    Measurement of a PR campaign will reveal what’s working and what’s not. You can adjust your campaign, so it will bring the desired goals. 

    No matter how hard you try, there will always be a part of your campaign you could improve. Measuring the results of a PR campaign will help you identify the weak spots and will prevent you from making the same mistake in the future. 

    Measure PR campaign! Start your free trial here!

    Moreover, measuring and reporting the results of your PR campaign will help you justify your PR spending to your supervisors and C-suite.  

    Considering how expensive a well-executed PR campaign could be, justifying the spending is one of the crucial parts of your job. 

    Benefits of PR measurement

    Why should you invest time and resources into measuring your PR efforts? The benefits are hard to miss!

    There are multiple reasons why you need to measure the value of your paid, owned, and earned media:

    • to prove the value of your work to your superiors. PR can help you reach your business objectives, but you have to demonstrate the benefits of your work
    • measuring various PR campaigns will help you identify strengths and weaknesses of your actions. That way you could improve your next campaigns
    • constant monitoring of your brand will help you defend your business during the crisis. If you want to know more, take a look at our article about crisis management.

    PR measurement in a nutshell

    I hope by now you get a solid grasp on the importance of measuring the results of your PR campaigns. 

    Without proper public relations measurement in place you won’t be able to assess the results of your work and provide even better services to your clients. 

    What are the most important takeaways?

    1. Set up your goal clearly before you start the campaign. 
    2. Take a closer look at social media platforms – whether you like it or not, that’s where the majority of life happens now. 
    3. Have a crisis management plan in action. A PR crisis will hit you, but you can turn the tables around and benefit from it. 
    4. Watch your competitors. Conducting competitor analysis will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. 
    5. Don’t forget about your website traffic. Analyse the results from GA regularly. 

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