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PR Measurement: 12 Important PR Metrics That You Need to Monitor

Posted by Wendy Marx

PR Measurement_ 12 Important PR Metrics That You Need to Monitor

(Editor's Note: We've updated this popular post to ensure it's even more helpful)

PR measurement has been a bugaboo of the PR industry for years. Of course it mattered, but it was easier to fugeddaboudit, leaving it to fester with all those other items no one wanted to deal with. Because so much of PR is intangible, and offers long-term results, it does not fit into a common financial mold when it comes to metrics. 

Why Are PR Measurement Metrics So Important?

It’s estimated that companies spend about $11 billion on PR per year. With budgets tightening across the board, many C-suite executives are asking to see a return on that investment. But when surveyed, 82% of marketers report that they have no way to evaluate the return they receive on PR.

Does this mean that PR is impossible to measure? Not at all.

After all, public relations has had an incredibly positive impact for both small and large businesses. The ROI is out there; we just have to use the right metrics to prove it.

Sure, PR metrics can seem super duper complicated -- but that doesn't mean they have to be! Businesses have data at their fingertips. You just need to know what to use and hone in on the data that's important to your business.

Numerous benefits accrue from active public relations measurement. For starters, PR metrics...

  • Give you a better understanding of the effect of a PR campaign
  • Show the impact of your efforts across all your platforms
  • Allow you to compare the effectiveness of PR campaigns
  • Demonstrate investment value for your PR strategy
  • Allow PR professionals to prove value to the organization
  • Provide future direction

In the words of PR expert, author, and entrepreneur Gini Dietrich, "We finally have the opportunity to prove we’re an investment."

How to Measure PR

Before you begin to think about measurement, it's important to outline your key goals. As measurement expert Katie Paine advises, "Be very clear about your goals. Goals drive the type of measurements you are going to use." For example, if your goal is to save money, your metrics will be very different from a company who wants to enhance their brand's image.

Once you have your goals in mind, choose public relations measurement tools that will make measurement easier. These PR measurement tools could be a free program like Google Analytics, or a premium subscription tool such as Moz, AirPR or Trendkite. Such tools are key to measuring public relations, as well as the value of your content and campaigns.

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In PR, it is important to measure both short-term and long-term results. Often, you'll need to prove quick boosts from specific PR campaigns. Other times, you'll be more focused on steady growth over a long period of time.


PR metrics can get super duper complicated - but that doesn't mean they have to be Tweet: PR metrics can get super duper complicated - but that doesn't mean they have to be @wendymarx https://ctt.ec/aj0a1+CLICK TO TWEET


According to a recent study from Hubspot and Trendkite, another big problem facing PR professionals is knowing what metrics to use. 56% of respondents said that their biggest challenge was tracking the right metrics. 

Let's now look at some of the most important public relations metrics that will help you to show the true impact of PR on your brand. You can use these as a general guide to your public relations measurement goals. Even if your business is on the smaller side, there are some key small business metrics to measure. It all depends on your specific goals.

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12 Important Metrics to Include Within Your PR Measurement

1. Website Visitors

Website visitors are always top of my metrics list. After all, the more that people are exposed to your brand, the more likely they are to trust you with a purchase. We can break down website visitors into three groups, depending on where they originate. This could be...

Owned content from other areas on your website.

Earned content from outside sites where you guest blog or post your original content.

Social content from posts to your social media networks.

Owned content is pretty straightforward -- consisting of blogs, ebooks, video and any other content you've created and own. But metrics from earned and social content can pinpoint what sites and social media networks are most effective for your brand. In time, you'll discover the sites and networks that work for your brand, and focus your energies and resources on those.

PR Tools For This: Any basic metrics program, such as Google Analytics, can show you how many unique visitors you have on your website and where your traffic hails from.


In PR, it's important to measure both short-term and long-term resultsTweet: In PR, it's important to measure both short-term and long-term results @wendymarx https://ctt.ec/e4k7f+CLICK TO TWEET


2. SEO

Your rank on Google is crucial to getting more leads and earning the trust of website visitors. Every company with a solid PR strategy strives for the golden SEO status of Google’s first page. Measure your rank in Google regularly.

Take your top 10 keywords, and measure your position quarterly. Are you further down than you would like to be? Then tweak your SEO strategy in order to rank higher up toward that coveted #1 spot.

PR Tools For This: Premium tools that can help you to determine your SEO include Moz and SEMRush.

Another basic (and free) way you can monitor this is by using the incognito tab in your browser to search for your keywords. The incognito tab ensures results that aren't tainted by your personal preferences and web history. You'll see a clear picture of how you rank for your chosen keywords. 

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3. Domain Authority

Your website’s domain authority is a major part of your SEO ranking. We consider it separately though because it's a valuable metric itself to reveal how your site stacks up compared to others.

This metric is ranked on a scale of 1 to 100 (100 being the highest authority). This ranking is one of the factors that Google takes into account -- the higher your domain authority ranks, the higher you will land in Google searches. This a free tool from Moz that can help you to check on your website’s domain authority.  

Domain authority is ranked according to a number of factors. These factors include:

  • Links to your site
  • Links from your site to other authority sites
  • Your site’s age

PR Tools For This: Moz is a great paid tool for domain and page authority across the board, but it also offer a free tool that can help you to check on your website’s domain authority.  

4. Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other sites that direct traffic back to your site. Backlinks are a great source of traffic, but also help to boost your reputation both with search engines and audiences. But not all backlinks are created equal. 

Backlinks range in size and impact. Here are three kinds of backlinks, with differing degrees of value:

  • A good backlink will mention your brand in a positive way, but doesn't include an actual link for people to click through to your site.
  • A better backlink will not only mention your brand but also include a link back to your site.
  • The best backlink that you want to get is one that links back to your site, but also mentions a positive aspect of your brand (especially if this is a keyword that you want to rank for). 

Any of these backlinks will positively impact your brand, but of course the higher quality ones will carry more weight. 

Keep track of the specific backlinks you have to your site, and the quality of each as well as where they come from. This will help you determine what links boost your authority and impact your brand image.

PR Tools For This: Use such tools as BackLink Watch and Ahrefs to monitor your backlinks.

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5. Email List

View your email list as the backbone of your business. If your content strategy is successful, then it will lead to a steady influx of email addresses, which are your potential clients.

Use special links to your landing pages and email sign-up forms to see where your email addresses are coming from. Is it a particular gated offer, such as an eBook or white paper? Is it a simple sign-up form at the bottom of your content or in your sidebar?

If you aren't getting the email sign ups you want, then it’s time to analyze what offers or calls to action aren’t performing up to standard. Take that information and use it to modify your landing pages and offers until you find a combination that works.

You can also use email marketing software, such as MailChimp, to measure email addresses and their sources.

PR Tools For This: Tools like Voila Norbert and SellHack can help you to build your email list and manage campaigns.

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6. Mentions

This metric helps you to determine something that was previously elusive for PR professionals: awareness. Mentions help you to see how many people are talking about your brand, and how well known you actually are.

Discover what people are saying about you, including the good, bad, and the ugly. Keep track of specific mentions and see what PR campaigns drove them. This will show the effectiveness of your campaigns, what conversations are sparked, and the resulting positive (or negative) impact on your brand.

There are a few things you need to pay attention to when tracking mentions. As we already noted, the tone of the mention is very important. But also determine the source of the mention -- if it's a publication, what is its readership? Where is it located? Does your target audience read that publication? 

PR Tools For This: Set up an alert tool such Google Alerts to ping you every time your brand, organization, product, or an important individual within your organization is mentioned. Establish one for competitors as well in order to see the big picture.


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7. Qualified Leads

Valuable leads are qualified, prospective clients -- those who are serious and may eventually make a purchase. Realistically, only a small percentage of your email addresses will actually end up purchasing your product or service.

Learn where your qualified leads are coming from. Use special links to track the trail your clients left behind -- did they find your site via a specific media outlet, or social media post? This can help you narrow down where serious decision makers look for information.

PR Tools For This: Use Bitly to set up tracking URLs so you know exactly where your leads clicked through to find you.

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8. Sales Conversions

In general, even for successful businesses, sales conversion rates tend to be in the single digits. Even though you may have hundreds of leads, you may only convert about 3% of those. Don’t let this discourage you -- it’s completely normal!

But it makes it imperative that you track these. Learn all you can from these individuals, and the metrics you gather from them. What was the final piece of content or offer that turned them from a simple lead into a buyer?

To get an accurate picture of this metric, you must track your clients from lead to sales. Discover what campaigns were involved in converting a lead into a buyer. 

PR Tools For This: Use tools like Kissmetrics to follow the behavior of your leads.

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9. Engagement

Social media is an effective place to boost brand awareness and credibility. It can also help you to reach new audiences.

Because social media is so powerful for your brand, you need to measure engagement to ensure you’re getting the most out of it. Engagement measures such factors as likes, comments, views, and shares. Armed with this information, you can understand the best times to post, what content work sbest, and uncover more specific data about your audience.

For instance, metrics guru Katie Paine notes, "When we factor in the engagement, it tells us what people are REALLY paying attention to rather than just what people are talking to themselves about."

PR Tools For This: Many social media networks have their own analytics programs, such as Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics. Other programs, such as Kissmetrics, offer a more comprehensive view of social media engagement. 

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10. Social Shares

We're going to separate this from general engagement for a moment, because social shares are specifically important to show the overall reputation of your brand.

Social sharing buttons are an essential part of your website. Make sure that every element of your website is sharable -- from individual blog posts to infographics and videos. 

Be specific when you record social shares -- what kinds of articles get more shares than others? This kind of precision can help you to monitor the overall sentiment of your brand. For example, if you notice that your articles about industry trends and issues are shared more than others, you can deduce that your brand's expertise is a calling card.

PR Tools For This: If your website is not equipped to give you specific metrics on shares, then find a tool that does. We recommend ShareTally for this job. 

11. Bounce Rate

You may get people to visit your site -- but how long do they stay there? This is where bounce rate comes into play. It measures not only how many people come to your site, but how long they remain -- and whether they click your links to see your other content.

From this metric, you can find ways to keep your audience on your site longer. Test out various changes to your content, and see how it affects your bounce rate.

PR Tools For This: A basic analytics program, such as Google Analytics, will provide this information.

12. Referrals

Although overall website visitors are a good metric ithemselves, the number of referrals you get is even more important. Referrals show you how many new eyes are viewing your site and learning about your brand. 

Are people coming from content you post on social media? Influencer campaigns? Press mentions? With referrals, you can see what site people come from, and get an idea for what piques their interest. Then you can hone in on what outlets and campaigns work.

PR Tools For This: You can use Google Analytics or a tool like ShinyStat to monitor this data.

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Key Points to Remember…

  • Public relations metrics give you a better understanding of the effectiveness of your campaigns, and shows you where you can improve.
  • Follow your SEO ranking regularly to improve your SEO strategy and rank higher within Google search results.
  • Track your social shares to see what kind of splash your brand is making with sharable content.
  • Mentions help you gauge your brand’s reputation and assess how your campaigns impact your reputation.

There are many aspects to public relations measurement. But these metrics are a good starting point. Use these metrics to stay on track, show your value, and help you adjust your strategy as needed.

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Topics: PR Measurement

Aug 6, 2017