Updated: Nov 23
Public relations measurement and evaluation are essential elements in the creation of successful communications programs. While there is wide acknowledgement that measurement and evaluation are important, public relations practitioners use multiple ways to design and implement an effective system for measurement and evaluation. Here are a few ways we can quantify the effectiveness.
Number of Impressions
While this might not be the most effective metric, it's still worth tracking since the number of possible impressions provides context to the coverage.
Whether the focus is circulation numbers or unique visitors per month, coverage from news sites and publications with a higher number of potential impressions tend to hold more weight, especially when reaching a key target audience or demographic. Coverage by one major media outlet can often be matched by multiple pieces of coverage by several smaller outlets.
Since the goal is to spread the word to the right audiences where they are looking for news and information as often as possible, this can be counted.
Directly measuring the Share of Voice
One of the most promising ways to measure PR value is to consider the Share of Voice that compares brands against their competitors—from the number of potential impressions and media outlet reputation to sentiment and even brand prominence in coverage.
A great way to begin understanding the media landscape is to set up alerts for the competition in the news. Consider the following bits of reportable and actionable data:
Is it from a trusted and reliable media source?
What is the size of the media outlet’s audience?
Is the brand sentiment positive, neutral or negative?
By considering the above questions, we can see at a glance whether or not they are winning or losing when it comes to owning ‘media shares’. As a result of tracking, you can create a new list of potential media contacts to reach out to because of their recent work with similar/competitive organizations.
Number of Media Coverages
Tracking the performance of your media strategy can be measured by the media coverage. These PR metrics will encapsulate data about PR campaigns, but will be more focused on where your campaign performed well.
Evaluating where your business has been featured in the media is paramount. Attributing coverage to earned media, PR outreach will inform and improve your PR strategy. Tracking media facing opportunities is a great way to assess the value of your PR team and your messaging.
If you’re established in your industry, your media outreach can be selective. Being featured on a small internet publication may not have the impact you need or want from your PR strategy. Instead, target highly respected and high rewarding media engagements. One interview or feature in the Financial Times can be worth more than numerous smaller industry publications or local news.
Every mention and piece of media coverage is a drop in the water that is your brand awareness. Do not disregard smaller publications until you have done your due diligence. If it’s a small industry publication that speaks directly to your target audience, coverage can have the most significant impact.
Building a comprehensive PR outreach strategy and list of publications to target will enable efficient outreach. The ease of this process will be reflected in your PR measurement.
PR Measurement specifically for Press Releases
To measure the success of a news release, check ‘number of non-paid pickups’ which is how many outlets published and republished your news release or shared it on social media. Looking at ‘potential audience’ (impressions) will show how many people may have seen your news release and received your message.
To measure the success of your media pitching, you can also check the pitch success rate by dividing earned media stories by how many people you’ve pitched. For example, you had eight media articles and pitched 10 people, so you have an 80-percent pitch success rate.
While one method may work for a client, it may not work for some. Make sure you speak with the client and inform them about the methods you use. Use one or a combination of these to evaluate your ROI on Public Relations.