Demonstrating the business value of PR has become an area of significant focus, with the growing digitalization of the sector and the adoption of new tools and standards enabling the ongoing evaluation and measurement of campaigns.. PR plays a massive role in building a brand’s reputation and maintaining it as well as helping companies meet their key business objectives. But where is the proof?

Most organizations quantify public relations with the number of clicks or hits, trade show exposure, amount of earned media, etc. However, measuring PR success is not limited to correlating earned media metrics with traditional business outcomes (sales data). Counting the number of views on an online advertisement is simple but finding out how many people read an article in the newspaper or magazine, which is not online, is near to impossible.

The effectiveness of a PR campaign ultimately depends on the KPIs agreed upon by all stakeholders at the start of the campaign. Therefore, any PR professional worth his salt would align his PR objectives with the organization’s business goals, and consequently, the success of his work depends on the achievement of these goals. Choosing the right PR metrics to measure the impact of a particular campaign or marketing initiative is crucial as it helps to validate efforts to clients, as well as analyzes a campaign’s performance and to then evolve and refine it accordingly. The metrics you track will depend on the goal of your campaign.

Although there is no one metric that can provide a complete picture of the outcome of a PR campaign, together they offer a comprehensive report card on the success or failure of a PR activity.  Here are the most commonly used PR metrics:

1- Media monitoring – Media monitoring is the listening to who’s saying what about your brand, your competitors, your industry, and any other relevant topic. One traditional way to gauge the success of a PR initiative is to track the number and quality of press articles mentioning your brand in target publications. Of course, in today’s digital world, media monitoring must go beyond print, extending to online, broadcast, and social media.

2- Social media engagement – PR professionals today rely on social media channels to boost the reach of their content to target audiences. Social media ROI can be measured through user engagement on the content, which provides key metrics such as likes, shares, mentions and comments, all of which can help determine the success or failure of a campaign. These metrics are generally available through the analytics section of each social media platform. For example, Twitter has tweet impressions, profile visits, mentions and follower counts that can give a good idea about social media engagement.

3- Emails – Email campaigns are another popular method of boosting brand awareness. Their performance can be tracked by looking at CRM data such as open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, unsubscribe requests, and other engagement.

4- Tracking website traffic and measuring backlinks – PR practitioners should monitor website traffic before and after the launch of a campaign to look for any increases in traffic to the brand’s website or blog to determine the success of their efforts. Google Analytics and other similar tools can be used to measure statistics such as unique visitors, traffic source, unique pageviews, session duration and bounce rate on the website or blog. All this data can be further analyzed to get inputs on demographics such as the visitors’ age group and location. Meanwhile, backlinks boost SEO and increase web traffic and are among the most important factors in achieving high search engine ranking. Gaining better search engine placement is a key measure of successful PR activity.