Measuring a Message: How to Start Measuring Your Public Relations Success

June 24, 2020 | Angelica Flynn

Math has never been my strong suit.

As a PR pro, I can mostly get away with this deficiency, seeing as I mostly deal with words on a day-to-day basis. Fellow practitioners may too consider numbers outside the realm of marketing and communications departments in which they operate.

However, as the C-suite continues to expect a return on investment on every departmental effort and budget, the need to measure public relations success has become more important. The value of communications must be represented in the numerical world of financials and figures.

You gain two major benefits by implementing metrics into your communications strategy:

  1. Defining and working against measurable, quantifiable key performance indicators illustrates the success of marketing and communications to your higher ups.
  2. Implementing metrics into your projects helps your PR plans in the long term by providing you valuable information on what works and what doesn’t so you can better plan for future programs.

In addition to demonstrating PR value and return on investment (ROI), solid PR measurement and reporting allows teams to identify areas for improvement in real time, so adjustments can be made to improve a campaign — whether digital or traditional.

Where do I start?

Since every organization has different business goals, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to measuring impact. Start by understanding the key performance indicators used by your organizational decision makers to ensure you fold your markers of success into the organization’s markers of success.

Once you understand how communications supports each organizational objective, clearly define your communications goals. Work to define key performance indicators (KPIs) that relate to aspects you can control and analyze, including business leads, customer complaints and unique audience visits.

“Diving into analytics can be intimidating, especially for those not accustomed to working with numbers. However, being proactive by building a strategy to measure your message can ultimately create more effective communications.”

What should I measure?

As communicators, we concern ourselves with changing attitudes and influencing behavior through strategic thought leadership programs. But how can you quantify the results from strategic, multi-tiered media relations efforts?

Look to social media, your website and traditional earned media to help paint a full picture of the results of any given communications campaign. The data points you track and analyze largely depends on your predefined KPIs. Some meaningful metrics you might consider collecting include engagements, sentiment and time spent on your website.

When should I analyze my data?

Don’t wait to do a postmortem on your campaign. I recently completed the PR Council’s Data and Digital Certification for PR Pros which detailed how communicators should continuously monitor useful metrics you can access. From your owned media (social media, website, newsletter, etc.), pay attention to contextual data (in what context your audience is interacting with your content), behavioral data (what your audience is doing with your content) and user data (who is the audience engaging with your content) to strategically improve your project or campaign in real time.

Understanding your data before spitting out reports for your higher-ups will allow you to make improvements along the way. Analyzing collected data can help you make further changes to boost the campaign before it is complete.

Diving into analytics can be intimidating, especially for those not accustomed to working with numbers. However, being proactive by building a strategy to measure your message can ultimately create more effective communications.