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Metrics to Track and Improve Your PR Campaign

Saying PR can improve the awareness and authority of your brand sounds great, but how do you back this up? This article will explain the key metrics you need to know about to prove the power of PR, giving you the tools you need to perfect your PR campaign.

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Introduction

There has always been a lot of debate over the measurability of public relations. It’s a subtle art, communicating values and altering perceptions of your brand without wanting to make a direct sales pitch to your audiences. The efforts of PR are focused on building not only awareness of your brand, but also authority, two metrics that are difficult to measure directly given this long-term focus. 

However, there are ways to correlate results in PR these days, especially given the convergence of PR and other marketing strategies that we here at PRLab use in our integrated approach. We will go over a variety of metrics that can be used to measure the success of your PR campaigns. Understanding these metrics will not only help you measure success, but will give you insights into how you should develop your strategy. 

Website Traffic

The first metric we’ll go over is website traffic. If you’re paying close attention to your website’s analytics, you should be able to see if any increases in your traffic correspond to your active PR campaigns. If you’ve just secured a press release in a top tier publication, your traffic should increase as people read about your brand.

You can break down your traffic further in Google Analytics, which provides a distinction between returning visitors and new visitors. A high number of returning visitors is a great sign of success and can be used to measure the engagement and authority of your site. Content such as blogs, articles, videos & any other educational or engaging content. 

On the other hand, new visitors can be used to measure how PR efforts have affected the awareness of your brand, an influx in visitors means that more people are checking you out. It’s also common to use this metric to measure SEO efforts, with a good SEO strategy crucial to perform well on search engines and give your website more reach, authority and thus traffic. You can learn more about our SEO services here.

It’s also important to look at how many mobile visitors you get, as this tells you a lot about your audience. You can also find this information in Google Analytics, and if you see you are getting a lot of traffic from mobile phones, you need to ensure your content is optimized for this; with good functionality and digestible information suited to people reading on the move.

Number of Mentions

Another metric used to measure how the perception of your brand changes over time is to track your mentions. Mentions are frequently used by PR agencies and refer to the number of times you are mentioned by a media outlet, journalists, freelancers, bloggers, customers, and others on social and digital media. 

Mentions are a useful tool to help you understand how many people talk about your brand, and what their impressions are. While there is media monitoring software out there can extensively track your mentions as well as anything related to your brand, Google Alerts is a good place to start tracking specific keywords and topics. When analyzing the results, one should be aware of the different types of mentions:

  • Unbranded mentions: the number of times a keyword related to you or your product/service is mentioned
  • Branded mentions: the number of times your company is mentioned.

Branded can be very easy to track yourself whereas unbranded requires more research and knowledge of the relevant keywords and topics that your audience is talking about. Tracking these mentions is very useful for your PR efforts, as you get a feel for what public sentiment is about your brand, if PR has increased activity, or if you need to respond to any negative associations that you might pick up on.

You can use the number of mentions as a metric for PR campaigns, particularly mentions from publications. You can look at the reputation and potential readership of these publications as a sign of how many people are reading about your brand. However, it is important to note that bigger outlets are not necessarily better if no one from your target audience is reading about you. 

Be sure to research the most relevant publications when it comes to PR, as it’s better to have 10 mentions with the right audience than 30 in irrelevant blogs. Tracking mentions in itself helps monitor this and in combination with other metrics, will show you where you’re efforts are best made.

Domain Authority

You might be asking how do you actually measure the respectability of a website? Well, this is done using the metric of domain authority, a very important metric especially in regard to thought leadership strategies. Moz, one of the world’s leading marketing analytics companies, uses a scale of 1 to 100 to measure the likelihood of a website ranking on a search engine, with a higher score corresponding to a better rank. 

Key to understanding domain authority is recognising that it isn't about getting a score of 100. This is a very achievable goal for many, with only huge websites such as Facebook and Google reaching such scores. What is important, is your score in comparison to your competitors. 

This is because the domain authority of a website describes how relevant the site is for that specific area. This means even with a low score, as long as it is higher than your competitors your website can still be highly visible. Your score is affected by the quality and relevance of your content as well as its centrality, which is how strong the network of backlinks and external links are between your website and others.

Social Media Performance

It is impossible to talk about PR without talking about social media. PR is the management of your communication channels, so naturally leveraging social media outlets has become a big part of PR. A study combining data on social media from around the world found that 58% of the world’s population is active on social media, rising to 82% in North America. Additionally, 99% of people who do use social media, do so on their mobile! So if you didn’t think optimizing your content for mobile phones wasn’t important before, think again. 

With social media being so important, there are some good metrics within it to be used by PR specialists, the following being common indicators of your progress.

Engagement

Engagement is a metric that tracks how involved your audience is with your content and can be measured by various interactions such as likes, comments or shares. Having a high engagement rate then means that you have a healthy, responsive audience who find your content interesting, enjoyable or useful. Different websites have different metrics to measure this, retweets vs shares on Twitter and Facebook for example, but in general they all have similar metrics you can use.

  • Likes, comments, shares etc. These are individual metrics that can be measured.
  • Post engagement rate. This is the number of people who interact with content divided by the amount of people who saw it. A high rate indicates more people wanted to engage with it, so this can help you understand what type of content you should be focusing on.
  • Organic mentions, where your brand is mentioned without prompting is a good sign of brand awareness.

Tracking engagement can be done within the platform’s analytics tools. As you can see, it will not only help you demonstrate the success of a PR strategy, but by knowing what content people are engaging with, can focus your efforts to make it more likely to succeed in the first place. 

Awareness

If your goal is to increase brand awareness (although let’s be honest we can’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t, that’s why you’re here) then social media metrics can provide some tangible solutions to lock down and give evidence of this rather slippery brand quality.

Measuring awareness has always been rather tricky, but with social media metrics this is no longer the case, as we can measure both impressions and reach. But what are these? In simple terms:

Impressions: How many times an individual sees a piece of content.

Reach: The number of potential viewers a piece of content has from your followers and its shares.

The number of impressions is particularly useful when you combine that number with your engagement metrics. This is because a high number of impressions but low engagement means that even though many people saw your content, it was not interesting enough to interact with.

Referrals and conversions

While the other metrics of social media are good indicators of a growing and enthusiastic audience, this is the metric that business owners often like to see as it is directly tied to sales and thus can demonstrate a very tangible return on investment

A referral is how somebody finds their way onto your website, and traffic analytics programs can show how many people are coming through your different social media platforms. A conversion is when this person then goes onto make a purchase on your site, so you can track when someone came to your site from social media and then made a purchase.

Checklist

As you can see, despite the myth that PR can’t be measured there are actually many metrics you can use to see the effectiveness of a campaign. 

  • New visitors
  • Returning visitors
  • Mobile visitors
  • Mentions
  • Backlinks
  • Domain authority
  • Engagement
  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Referrals
  • Conversions

These metrics should provide you with some useful tools for both planning and measuring the success of your PR strategies. The good news is you can start measuring these with free software, although for extensive data you’ll need to invest in some analytical software. Unlocking the full potential of these metrics is something that requires a lot of time and experience, so if you need help with a PR campaign or strategy with proven results, you can contact us at PRLab today.

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