Published on 30th December 2022
A common question public relations practitioners get: how can I measure PR efforts? And the answer isn’t always straight forward. Measuring PR effectiveness is often overlooked, misunderstood, or just plain frustrating, even for seasoned professionals.
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These days, between websites, blogs, social media, podcasts, newsletters and more, it can be much more confusing to measure the “value” of earned media coverage.
Back in 2010, the Barcelona Principles—established by the Association of Measurement and Evaluations of Communications (AMEC), the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the Institute for Public Relations (IPR)—made clear that when we talk about the “value” of PR, we shouldn’t look to an advertising equivalency dollar amount. A number of updates to these principles have been rolled out over the years, but the foundations remain the same: paid media and earned media function differently. Thus, they can’t be measured in the same manner.
Impressions? Total number of articles? Social media reach? Sentiment? The hard truth about PR measurement is that it simply cannot be one size fits all.
In order to determine what to measure, you have to first look at what your goals are for your business with your earned media placement. Impressions may be a great KPI for your company if you’re looking to raise awareness; however, if you want to see how your media coverage stacks up against your competitors, share of voice might be a better metric. If you’re looking to understand how the media is covering your business, key message pull-through might be the best KPI to track.
There are numerous tools and services out there in the marketplace available to help you track your PR results. Some boast dashboards that pull in social media metrics alongside media coverage, while others tout their AI capabilities for measuring things like tone and sentiment. AI has come a long way, but it’s still no replacement for human eyes and minds. All the tools in the world won’t help if your team doesn’t have a good understating of what metrics to track and why they matter to your business. There’s still no substitute for having a real person to review coverage for accuracy and synthesize metrics into meaningful takeaways that will matter to your leadership team.
Padilla is a full-service, strategically creative agency helping brands and organizations transform through communications.
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