Public relations (PR) campaigns can be difficult to track. After all, how do you measure the impact of a press conference, news release, or good deed? It’s impossible to get inside your audience’s heads and see whether you made the right impression (or any impression at all). The good news: PR measurement doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think.
PR isn’t easy to quantify. But there’s quite a bit of data you can track that will tell you how to measure the effectiveness of a public awareness campaign.
Here’s how you can demonstrate your PR campaign success with the right key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, and tools.
Table of Contents:
- What Is PR Measurement?
- Why Is Measuring PR Important
- How to Measure PR Campaign Success: 10 PR Metrics to Track
- Measuring PR Success with Linkfluence
What Is PR Measurement?
We define PR measurement as the practice of tracking the success of your PR campaigns and activities. This includes measuring your media coverage, social media engagement, and other metrics.
Learning more about your performance can help you decide what’s working and what’s not in your PR strategy. This gives you more insight into what you need to improve and where you might double down to get even better results.
Why Is Measuring PR Important
Public relations "measurement" can be hard to quantify. All the buzz you generate from media outlets, social media, and events surely mean something to your brand. But without a good way to measure these activities, marketers are left wondering how these things are helping (or harming) their brand.
You might also need to prove your efforts to internal stakeholders. They want to know your time, energy, and monetary investments in PR are justified. This is easier to do when you can compare your results against PR metrics and KPIs that show you’re moving the needle.
There’s also the fact that single PR activities alone aren’t always enough to make a real impact on your organization. Sure, you might win an award, earn some media coverage for making a sizable donation, or issue a press release about a product launch. But these things need to be connected to your larger business objectives.
You need to have goals with PR, just as you do with marketing. Otherwise, you’ll never know whether your PR is working or just making noise.
Lastly, measuring PR KPIs makes your role even more valuable to your organization. It’s not easy for those outside of the PR industry to see just how essential it is to the company at large. By having data to back up your efforts, you can continue to show the value behind your job and why you deserve a piece of the budget.
How to Measure PR Campaign Success: 10 PR Metrics to Track
How do you measure the results of a PR campaign? As with any type of marketing, it all starts with choosing the right PR KPIs. These PR KPIs will vary depending on your goals.
It’s always best to start with your goal and work backward to see what actions will indicate success.
For example, if you are launching a new app, one of your PR metrics could be the number of downloads. If you’re trying to recruit employees, you might track the number of applications you receive.
In general, here are 10 metrics you should track with every campaign.
Impressions aren’t everything. In fact, many PR professionals leave this one off the table because they’re considered a “vanity metric.”
But even though impressions may not turn into direct sales or revenue, they do give you an idea of how far your message is traveling. Impressions confirm that people have been exposed to your campaign, and that’s important for setting the right expectations for your campaign outcomes.
You can compare your impressions with other key metrics, such as actions taken, to gauge whether your campaign is reaching the right audience.
2) Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales-Qualified Leads (SQLs)
PR campaigns can drive an interest in what your company offers. But not all of those leads will be a good fit for what you do. The ones that are a good fit will either be marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) or sales-qualified leads (SQLs).
SQLs are those who are ready to make a buying decision. MQLs will need some extra nurturing. Keep the conversation going with them, whether it’s through email campaigns, social media, direct mail, or other channels.
The number of MQLs and SQLs gives you a better understanding of whether you’re reaching the right target audience with your PR.
3) Sales-Driven Actions
Depending on your campaign, your audience might take a number of actions to indicate interest and relevance. These might include click-throughs, email newsletter signups, downloads, logins, views of your pricing page, demo requests, consultation bookings, and more.
Each of these actions supports PR campaign measurement because they are easy to quantify. They also indicate a high interest in what you offer.
Backlinks are a hallmark of PR success. It’s a sign of authority and interest when other publishers, media outlets, and bloggers link to your campaign content.
Backlinks are easy to track. Use Google Analytics to see how your backlink profile has grown after the campaign.
5) Referral Traffic
Going hand in hand with backlinks, referral traffic helps you see where interest in your campaign is coming from. You can earn free traffic from the sites that link to your campaign content.
Check to see not only how many backlinks you have, but also who is linking to you. Check the domain authority of those sites to ensure your referral traffic is coming from high-quality, trustworthy sources.
6) Share of Voice (SOV)
Share of voice measures the percentage of all conversations about a particular topic that mention a specific brand.
For example, if 10 people are talking about different brands of running shoes and two of those people mention Nike, then Nike has a 20% share of voice for that particular conversation.
Share of voice can measure both online and offline conversations, though it's more commonly used to track online mentions. This metric helps brands understand how visible they are in the marketplace and how well they're connecting with their target audience.
7) Consumer Sentiment
Sentiment analysis measures how people feel about a brand overall. It can be a powerful indicator of future sales for a brand. If consumers have positive sentiments toward a brand, they are more likely to purchase its products or services in the future. Similarly, if consumer sentiment is negative, it could indicate declining sales for a brand.
8) Website Traffic
PR campaigns often generate an uptick in website traffic. Campaigns build greater brand awareness, which can lead to more people checking out your company via your website.
You can track this by using Google Analytics or other analytics tools. Analyze and evaluate your website traffic before and after the campaign. You can break down your insights into different categories, such as referral traffic vs direct traffic (where visitors type your URL directly into the search bar), or unique visitors vs. returning visitors.
9) SEO Impact
Backlinks, referral traffic, and website traffic can all have an impact on your search engine visibility. Search algorithms prioritize quality content, so having people linking to your campaign and seeing an uptick in traffic can do wonders for your organic rankings.
PR measurement metrics track things like new keywords you’re ranking for, how high you’re ranking for certain keywords, and your brand’s average position in search engines.
10) Social Media Engagement
Likes, shares, and comments on social media don’t mean much in marketing. But social media engagement can give you an idea of whether your campaign is resonating with your target audience.
Growth in engagement and follower count illustrates that people see your campaign. It demonstrates relevance and interest, which can support brand awareness and even future sales.
Measuring PR Success with Linkfluence
Learning how to measure PR campaign success is faster and easier with Linkfluence. Our cloud-based, data-driven platform handles your PR campaigns from end to end, from developing content that resonates to finding media partners and influencers to tracking your results.
Measure the impact of every campaign in real time across all channels. Take the guesswork out of which metrics matter most. We’ll compile your data into a user-friendly, no-frills report so you can see without a doubt what’s working in your PR department.
Request a demo to see Linkfluence in action!