PR is an important component of any marketing strategy. Especially tech companies with innovative and groundbreaking products, whose customers are typically better informed and more discerning than average, PR has outmost importance. Earned media helps generate a sense of authority and credibility that is difficult to duplicate through paid media. An article in Forbes is a badge of honor. The same cannot be said for a paid ad.
Earned media coverage not only allows you to create a more detailed message surrounding tech solutions that many might be unfamiliar with, but can also help position you as an industry leader when the tech takes off. But how do we measure the effectiveness of our PR strategies?
The world has no shortage of data and the digital era has armed decision-makers with data points that provide intricate metrics that can be used to quantify the success of a PR campaign. How many times has your company been mentioned by the press? How widely read are those press sources?
In the social media era, quantifying the number of mentions, social sharing, and likes is relatively simple. Your audience’s exposure to, and engagement with, your brand has become a reasonably exact science when we consider there are so many metrics that can be readily quantified. An article on TechCrunch, for example, may lead to more impressions than an article at a lesser-known publication.
But does that actually define PR success? Or does it only take account of half of a fuller and more nuanced picture?
The Problem With Measuring PR Success
PR success can be more difficult to determine than other forms of marketing. Advertising, or paid media, will demonstrate immediate results. Those results will be easily quantifiable, giving you a simpler way to determine your ROI from an advertising campaign.
Marketing is a longer-term pursuit where the aim is usually to build a brand image. Its impact can be more difficult to quantify with immediate, short-term data points.
Similarly, PR campaigns can be difficult to evaluate precisely. PR shares some of the properties of advertising in that a campaign will usually result in an immediate boost to key metrics you are interested in, whether they are hits to your website or social sharing on social media sites.
PR, however, also has long-term benefits that go beyond any immediate actions taken by your audience that you might be able to quantify. So while you should expect an instant profile boost, there are longer-term outcomes that are important to consider when assessing the success of a PR campaign. And those things are not as easy to measure.
Breaking It Down
Before you even begin a PR campaign, it is vital that you identify your goals. Without knowing what you want to achieve through any of your marketing endeavors, it is impossible to judge how successful your spend and efforts have been.
Having a pre-defined goal will help you identify a strategy to focus on. Your strategy might be reputation management, generating buzz or leads, or establishing your company as a thought leader in the industry. Whatever it is, be very clear about what you want to achieve and the strategy you intend to deploy to achieve it. At that point, you will have the KPIs to measure your results against.
Measuring Your Campaign’s Success
We have established that any PR campaign has easily quantifiable and not-so-easily quantifiable outcomes that need to be measured against your goals to determine how successful your campaign was. Let’s take a look at the easy-to-measure metrics first:
Press clippings measure how many times your brand or product has been mentioned by media outlets, whether traditional or online. It is important, of course, that the publications and outlets that have mentioned your products are what your prospective customers are reading. The higher the number of press clippings, the more successful your PR campaign has been in raising brand awareness.
By multiplying the number of press clippings by the circulation of the outlets that have mentioned your brand, you can calculate the number of media impressions you have earned. The higher the circulation of the outlet, the higher the number of impressions.
Has traffic to your website risen since launching your PR campaign? If so, it has likely succeeded. With so many sales leads now coming through visits to your online assets, especially in the tech sector, hits to your website is an easy metric to use to determine how successful your campaign has been in generating interest in your company.
Google Analytics is your best friend here. By knowing where your customers are visiting your website from, you will quickly learn which outlets are driving the most valuable traffic and which are worth maintaining engagement with as you grow.
Social Media Mentions
How many times has your brand been mentioned on social media? Have those mentions been positive? Is your brand being mentioned (and heard) by the right people? These are important questions to answer when assessing the effectiveness of PR.
Now that we have clear goals and target metrics we would like to reach, we can narrow our focus to ensure our PR campaign is working. If you know, for example, that being mentioned in a certain publication will generate a certain number of impressions, social media mentions, and a level of traffic to your website, your outreach to that outlet becomes your focus.
A good PR agency will know how many engagements with that outlet will be required to generate a mention. That number of engagements, then, becomes the target for your PR campaign.
In the second part, we’ll take a dive into the PR success metrics that are not quite as simple to measure.
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