Which metrics should you use to measure the success of your PR strategy?

Plenty has been said about the need to measure the success of our PR efforts and still nowadays many professionals believe PR can’t be measured. I personally believe this is not true. Yes, it’s very difficult to measure the impact of a press repercussion, especially if it takes place in a print outlet. Still, it’s possible to be measured.

As a global PR consultant, one of the reasons why I love working with growth hackers and online marketing professionals is because of their affinity for numbers and data. If we want to become good at tracking the success of our PR efforts, (hello freelancers), then we need to improve our approach to data and numbers in general. In a market saturated with online marketing tools, gone are the days of uncertainty in measurement.

Below I detail the metrics we can measure with a clear distinction in online and offline media:

Online Media:

  • Domain Authority: There are several reasons why you could be conducting a PR campaign. One that I see in most cases is to raise awareness within an industry or field. Nowadays, if your brand doesn’t show up on the first or second page of Google search engine results, you’re missing out on the chance of being discovered by hot leads. By raising your domain authority, you make sure Google recognizes you as a trusted domain which will bring you to the first pages of the search engine results. Doing guest blogging in publications that have a domain authority of +30 will boost your own authority. How can you measure the domain authority of a publication? Simple, get this free Mozbar in your chrome extensions which analyzes the DA of every single website. (No worries, you can thank me later ;)
  • Backlinks: Having a considerable amount of backlinks linking to your own website will also make google like you. How can you measure this? Go to your analytics, click on acquisition> traffic>referral. Here you’ll see all the websites linking back to your own website. Always try to iterate on your referral traffic by conducting great online PR tactics.
  • Analyze the demographics and your users’ behavior: Are you attracting your target personas to your website? Easily check this in your analytics dashboard: Users>Demographics. Play with this tool. Google keeps enriching it with more and more data. Crazyegg and chartbeat are also great tools for this.
  • Measure how you’re raking for certain keywords and set benchmarks: Yes, it’s time to get a keyword tool if you don’t have one already. Why? Because they tell you how you’re ranking for certain keywords that attract qualified leads to your website. My favorite one so far is SEMRush.
  • Keep track of your acquisition channels.
Organic search traffic + referral traffic + branded search traffic

Get the 3 of the above together by applying filters in analytics and measure the number of new users the 3 of them together show in the last year. Did it improve gradually? Then your PR efforts are working well. Is it only peaking and then plummeting? That could be a seasonal effect or the results of ads campaigns or even a participation in an event, but that’s not the healthy-traffic that will get you an organic flow of inbound leads with time. Most companies I’ve talked to aim to achieve an annual 20% growth in the latter.

Printed Media:

  • Set tags in your google analytics dashboard: Let’s say you have successfully pitched a story to a journalist and you’re getting quoted in an article this coming Friday. Yay! You can’t wait to see your name quoted in that article written by a renowned journalist in your industry and share it with your mom and friends. But a question pops into your mind: “how can I measure how many visitors this article brought to my website?” Set an analytics tag and see how your normal traffic fluctuates. How do you do this? Go to your analytics dashboard, click on the drop-down arrow below the traffic graph and simply add a tag. Voila!
  • Create a unique landing page and try to get the journalist to quote it: If you really want to make sure you track down your visitors, create a landing page using tools like unbounce, give it a unique URL and make sure the journalists or your bio has this link displayed. All the traffic you will get there will be exclusively from this action.
  • Lead sources: By far the most effective tactic with printed media is to check the sources of your leads. If you have a sales team, check the responses to the question “how did you find out about us?” Now here’s what happened to me. Many of them will say oh, “I heard about you in an article.” This is when you need to emphasize to your sales team the fact that you need more info than just an article. Make sure they ask the leads which particular article it was and in which media outlet. If they forget, then cross the metrics of when you got this lead and press repercussions you got that day, the tags mentioned above will help.

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