Measuring success has long been the Achilles’ heel of public relations. While it is true that it is hard to correlate PR efforts directly to bottom line results, that does not mean you cannot measure success.
First, it is important to know what success looks like and to take the time to outline goals. Identifying the target audience is also a key part of the of upfront work. All the great PR in the world does not mean anything if your target audience does not see it.
AVE vs. Barcelona Principles
In the past, the Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) has been the standard for measuring the success of a PR campaign. If you got media in a publication you would compare that space to the cost of a paid ad and that would give the AVE to quantify success.
Things have changed, PR and advertising are quite different, and the industry has come to realize it is hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison. Many in the industry feel that the Barcelona Principles provide a core framework for a universal standard of measurement. One of the Barcelona Principles is, “AVEs are not the value of communications.”
Overall, the Barcelona Principles focus on setting goals, looking at outcomes versus outputs, using both quantitative and qualitative measurements, incorporating social media, and taking a holistic approach to evaluation.
When taking a holistic approach to evaluation, there are multiple aspects to look at to determine if your PR efforts have been successful.
Monitoring your media coverage is a vital part of tracking your PR results. To track media mentions, create Google Alerts or alerts on a tool like TalkWalker on the brand name, company name and key executives. Both tools are free and can be set up quickly.
In addition, do a weekly Google search to find any mentions those tools did not catch. To find mentions of the brand/company that are not on the website type the following into the search: “ABC brand” –site:abcbrand.com.
The type of media coverage is as important as the number of media. Tracking sentiment of the mentions will provide insight into if your brand is portrayed positively or negatively.
Create a media tracking document to help show the big picture. Include:
- Media Outlet
- Title/Focus of content
- Link to the article
- Media Impressions (if available)
- Backlinks to the website (if any)
- Sentiment (positive/negative)
Website activity is another way to measure effectiveness. Creating a dashboard in Google Analytics can help identify trends around PR coverage and learn where your traffic is coming from. Ideally, media mentions will have a reference back to the website to help drive traffic.
Social Media Mentions
Social media plays a big role in PR. Hootsuite is one example of a free social listening tool to help monitor mentions of your brand, products, or relevant keywords across multiple social networks.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The increased site traffic, backlinks from articles, and social media mentions are all going to impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Better SEO rankings increase the likelihood of your audience finding you.
Using tools such as SEM Rush and Moz will monitor what keywords you are ranking and how the positioning has changed over the course of a campaign.
While these are the key success indicators to monitor, there are many tools that can help show how your PR efforts are making an impact. This article covers just a few and the industry is evoling every day, so it is important to stay up to date on the new tools coming online.