3 free ways to tell if your PR is working

14 December 2020 | 6 min read | News
Vicki Eastman

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2020 has been a tough year. Now more than ever, all departments and external partners must be able to prove that they are value creators, rather than cost centres.

We’ve talked previously about the ‘Periodic Table of PR Measurement’ and how this can be used to determine the value and impact of your PR efforts. In this blog, we’ll talk through a few of the easiest and most efficient measurements you can use.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics (GA) can tell you a lot about your customers and other visitors to your website and it is totally free. However, the sheer amount of data available via GA can be overwhelming, so which measurements should you pay most attention to when it comes to analysing your PR success?

Setting and tracking goal conversions is an important step. If you’re hiring, for example, you may wish to track the number of CVs submitted to your website. GA allows you not just to track the total, but also to understand how these users found your website. Other common goals include sales, newsletter sign ups, quotes or requests for information.

You should also monitor the changes to your website traffic and where this comes from. If your PR campaign includes social media, then take a look at how many sessions and users have resulted from your campaigns. Mentions in the press often come with a link, so you’ll be able to see how many users or sessions have been generated by different pieces of coverage. Print and broadcast media can be more difficult to track directly, but look out for increases in your organic and direct traffic that coincides with media appearances throughout your campaign.

TIP: Google Analytics has recently released its fourth version (GA4). There are a lot of changes in the new version, which can take some getting used to if you are familiar with GA3. We recommend creating a new GA property for GA4 which can be used alongside your existing Google Analytics account.

Social media

Nearly all businesses now have some sort of social media presence, but far too many are failing to properly assess the impact of their social media campaigns.

It’s tempting to think of the biggest numbers as the most important, so let’s start by looking at reach and impressions. These terms tend to be used interchangeably by social media platforms and essentially these numbers tell you how many users have seen your post. However, this doesn’t factor in the amount of users who have actually read, digested and then acted on your post. Don’t disregard reach, though. Social media platforms use a complex set of algorithms to determine which posts will be interesting to users. Often, reach or impressions tells you more about the content that works for the given platform. Take note of this and adjust your content accordingly.

An increase in engagement on social media indicates that you are posting content which is relevant to the community you’ve built on social media. Engagement can cover a lot of things and can vary between platforms, but typically this includes reactions, comments, shares, clicks (users who have clicked the post to see more or visit your page) and click-throughs (users who have followed a link). The more engagement a post receives, the more impressions it will gain.

However, some social media communities are naturally less engaged than others. This can be down to differences in demographics or simply the nature of the content. So, if you’re posting often but aren’t seeing the engagement you’d like, make sure you monitor your follower count. If you can track a steady increase in followers, it means your content is resonating.

TIP: If you’re using paid social media posts, the objective you choose can make or break your campaign. Take the time to understand the different objectives offered by each platform and make sure you consider the right objective for the right post.

Monitoring press coverage

Assessing the value of media coverage is a concern as old as the industry itself, but it really doesn’t need to be that complicated. Though there are not always direct ways to determine the impact of a piece of coverage, there are things we can measure.

Firstly, look at the number of clippings and media appearances your PR campaign is generating. Are you able to regularly obtain coverage? You should also consider the quality of the publications you are appearing in, considering the readership both in terms of volume and exact audience.

Most publications will give you figures on estimated audience reach but do take these figures with a pinch of salt. A piece of coverage in The S*n, for example, would grant you an audience of 32.8 million – but the number of people who will actually read the article you are featured in, remember you and/or become a potential customer will be much lower. Any publication that sells advertising space will be able to tell you the size of the audience as well as detailed demographics, such as job title, level of seniority and primary interests.

If a piece of coverage includes a backlink then you can also check the domain authority (DA) of the link to see how it will impact the DA of your website, and in turn your search rankings. DA is measured out of 100, and in general the higher score the better. However, it’s important to consider these things in context – if your website has a DA of 20 and the publication is ranked at 35, for example, this could significantly boost your score. It’s also important to check whether or not the link is marked as ‘no follow’, as this kind of link will not improve your DA.

TIP: Include trackable links in your press releases. Not all outlets will publish a link to your website, but if you are fortunate enough to secure a link you will be able to tell exactly how many people have visited your website as a direct result of the coverage.

Though there are many handy PR measurement tools out there – and it is sometimes necessary to invest in surveying and sentiment analysis – often the data we have at our fingertips is overlooked. By understanding the basics, you can determine the strength of your current PR strategy and ascertain the real value of your activity.