The 16 public relations metrics your business should be tracking

Creating the path for PR accountability.

Positive press is always great

Positive press is always great

What the market says about a business is the true brand. A brand is not something that is just represented or presented, it has to be felt, experienced, built and nurtured. The path of marketing success is built upon many facets, not least through the engagement of the market through public relations activities.



Frequently companies view public relations (PR) in four different camps.

First, we have the business that takes it very seriously and tries to measure every aspect of its activity even through to its own dedicated PR departments.

The second camp is the business that sets a budget, outsources its activities and views a PR agency with mystery; amusement and cost burden but know they do “some good out there”.

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The third camp is the business that has a start and go approach to public relations. Their approach is more tactical and not strategic as part of the overall marketing strategy.

Fourthly is a camp in today’s world that think their social media and website coverage is all the PR they need to worry about.

Each of the four main camps has some risks and weakness. A new balanced approach to PR should be taken and so use this as an opportunity to question and challenge the business metrics to help create, shape and steer more value from your PR activities.

A great free report by the Institute of Public Relations Board of Trustees shares the top 10 PR research insights for 2016. This sheds insight to the recent status and trends of such marketing actions and adds weight to the need for improved measurement and engagement through corporate social relations.

Review the aim of your public relations

A good business leader will understand that each interaction with the market place is a public relations opportunity. The interaction can be broken down into 3 key steps:

Preparation: Control of the quality of message, the story narrative of the story/event/brand link and the purpose of the interaction

Implementation: The actual type of activities and level of reach plus engagement is ever more important.

Impact: How has the communication and interaction actually developed or enhanced behavior, relationships or knowledge that is tied directly to the original purpose of the public relations action?

Positive words spreads around the world, no matter the size of your business

Positive words spreads around the world, no matter the size of your business

The metrics to measure these steps are important factors and are represented below in our list. The list offers a best practice starting point so it is important your own business also highlights the most effective metrics to track and serve for maximum impact and value.

Starting from the business strategy with the brand leadership style, a keen eye for consistency across all public relations actions will help most companies in the easiest and high impactful manner.

Why measurement scrutiny of public relations is important

There should be no part of a business not held accountable. Public Relations should not be given a free reign of low expectations and continual self-review for performance levels. Bringing scrutiny to the actions, impact, and measures should be encouraged and embraced by keen PR agencies and staff members. The reason is simple. Done correctly, PR can rapidly become a key and integral part of the core business and not left aside as marketing after thought.

Starting with alignment to the business strategy and objectives will help shape the narrative, timing and influence decisions for the department. The measures should have a core focus on continual value. So, in today’s world simply measuring vanity metrics is not enough. Supportive metrics are required to understand the effectiveness of actions taken.

Last but by no means least, what better way to justify and call for the correct and appropriate resources and budget levels than hard representative data and analytics.

Core areas of impact for today’s public relations.

The landscape of public relations continues to evolve, so the metrics need to evolve with it. Recognition of social media and online actions will not doubt further evolve in future to include chat bots and how artificial intelligence algorithms select appropriate information from press releases and public activities. The developments for instance with video branding recognition will help further allow more accurate reach numbers in the coming years.

A great paper released by the Australian Centre for Public Communications provides some insights on how to develop future international standards of measurement for PR.

In the meantime, we suggest concentrating on these core action and impact areas engaged with your public relations actions.

·        Cost savings

·        Downloads of information or nominated material

·        Registration levels based on PR actions

·        Lead generation

·        Market penetration

·        Enquiries

·        Website and social media traffic

·        Types of engagement levels

The need to compare your PR activities to paid advertisement still remains as a core metric, so (AVErage will not disappear yet!)

16 important metrics for public relations performance review

At the end of the day, we want the market to love us and enjoy us like an ice cream! - PR

At the end of the day, we want the market to love us and enjoy us like an ice cream! - PR

The common theme across the below metrics is a link between specific audience types, the level of engagement levels, finances returned and spent plus actual reach potential for each action.

Total cost of Public Relations coverage

Be in no doubt of your costs. Collect all sources including estimated time of reporting, reviews and leadership meeting costs.

Ratio of positive to negative editorial articles

In today’s social media world, negative comments can impact a business hard. How you respond and recover will be critical to brand success and possibly win even more clients.

Minutes of air time via Podcast, Radio, TV, and Online Channel

With the fragmentation of media sources, gathering the full figure is a challenge but necessary to understand your coverage and market influence.

Average number of words in each public article

Shorter articles generate lower SEO impact, so high impact quality content will help maximize your efforts. Working closely with media outlets allows you to offer unique insights and higher quality links supportive of your brand message.

Average number of Medias that pick up the PR story per press release

This value helps retains the focus on the correct media mix to maximize the message your business is communicating and sharing.

% of satisfied partners

An often overlooked metric, if you do not look after your media partners then you run the risk of lowering future opportunities for priority and quality support. Protect these relationships deeply.

Number of trade show attendees (sub metric Average reach of each trade show)

The sub metric is the most important, yet as a starting point this helps provide a strategy and shapes the business proactive approach to industry events.

Number of public events (sub metric Average read of each event)

Similar to the prior metric but with possibly less competitor activity at the same time so the depth of the message can be different and deeper relationships generated. These include niched events for influence or branding support including Corporate Social Responsibility obligations (CSR).

Number of press releases

Some industries and agencies are better than others. They know, plan and anticipate the correct amount of releases. Working close with marketing, sales and media outlets allows improved planning so this metric is optimized.

Number of inquiries per story/event

A key measure to help create future targets and goals when planning a PR activity. Use this measure to understand the best value actions and actual behavior change of the market.

Number of hours post PR event, impact on website traffic

A significant amount of time, energy, planning, and incentives can be spent trying to drive traffic to your website. This measure helps identify not only the amount of interest but the life cycle of your actions.

Number of community sponsorships given

A simple pure measure to help understand the actual amount of community engagement your business has.

Number of employees participating in public events

Part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) duty is to help understand how engaged you are with the community and how this can be supported or grown.

% difference of public relations exposure to key competitors

A straight forward benchmarking activity that will be limited in its scope. You will protect your data, so expect your competitors to do the same. However, this does provide insights to help shape expectations and potential learnings.

Number hours of public relations training given to employees

An overlooked metric. The removal of Travis Kalanick as CEO of Uber is a perfect example for the need of leadership to have appropriate skills in public relations. The impact and cost of not doing such training can quickly be very damaging.

JAMSO can help your metrics training

JAMSO can help your metrics training

% deviation from PR budget

Back to basic management control. Ensure you retain an eye on this metric as the year develops. Use the information to share the potential and limitations to other stake holders such as marketing and sales.

Concluding the measures

We have highlighted the core metrics and yet the list could be easily been extended. A cost of performance management and leadership review of performance areas means your business needs to take decisions on key results areas.

Through the generation of accurate measures, your business targeting will improve with metrics quality and this trust in decisions. These act as specific strategy guides to new market opportunities and enhance the relationship between business and market.

An evolving trend with positive PR is the use of influencer marketing. A marketing positioning article by Vision Edge Marketing helps provide an insight how to engage deeper with such actions for your business.

Mistakes happen, how you respond becomes the measure of your brand

Mistakes happen, how you respond becomes the measure of your brand

Occasional crisis management is needed within the world of PR to overcome negative press and potential brand damage. The key is never to react but to be planned with a solid response and keen follow up through reliable measures.

I would love to hear from you the challenges you face with your own PR measures and how this article has impacted your business.

Share this and show the world that you support solid PR metrics.