A Reason to Celebrate PR Measurement

Did you know that November is Measurement Month? If you answered “no,” don’t feel bad – you’re probably not alone. Measuring PR effectiveness is often overlooked, misunderstood, or just plain frustrating, even for seasoned professionals.

Decades ago, before this crazy thing called the internet changed the world, PR measurement was pretty straightforward. We (literally) measured the amount of coverage a story took up on the page and calculated the equivalent cost for an advertisement of that size. 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.

So, what should you be measuring? 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’s Media Relations Consultants, an internal group of earned media experts, recently rolled out new agency best practices for PR measurement. This new set of standards and practices enables us to provide our clients with the best possible council around PR measurement, including access to tools that allow clients to see their PR results alongside their paid, shared and owned media campaign data, giving the entire team a better understanding of how different programs of work all function together to meet business goals.

If your team is struggling to measure the effectiveness of PR efforts, reach out—maybe next November you’ll be as excited to celebrate Measurement Month as Padilla is.

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