Public relations

Measuring what matters: getting measurement and analytics right in PR and media relations

Written by Sam Dennis

1 December 2021


In PR, it’s important to know that you’re making progress and hitting targets for your clients. But how can you do this, and what should you be evaluating? While counting coverage may make you feel good, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Historically, many PR campaigns have measured success by the amount of coverage hits, shying away from digging deeper into the true impact on brand awareness, leads or sales. This is often partly due to fear of what the results might be but also not knowing the best way to go about it. It’s now time to banish that fear and focus on measuring what really matters.

Where to start

When you are planning what to measure in your PR campaign there are three things to include:

  • Outputs
    • Amount of coverage
  • Outcomes/outtakes
    • Increased brand awareness due to coverage
  • Impact
    • Brand awareness translating into more leads and sales

However, many campaigns only measure outputs. To provide a true view of success, you need to look at outcomes and impact too. When you work with your client to incorporate these insights, you’ll be viewed as a more valuable partner. That said, in order to be able to measure metrics such as leads generated or web traffic, clients need to make this private data accessible to their agency team.

Data might be everywhere – but you need to be in control

While the issue used to be that PR didn’t provide enough data, the opposite is now true – there’s so much data that it can be difficult to know what to focus. Investing in a measurement tool is great, but for it to really have an impact, your staff need to know how to use it. Investing the time in your team to learn how to use the tools at their disposal will mean that you can do more – after all, they can’t become experts without any experience.

Another thing to consider is what you’re measuring and why. Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should. When using a tool like Meltwater or Cision, you have countless options, but, in truth, you often only need to measure a select few variables. What you choose should always be linked to helping the client achieve one of their overarching business goals.

Transparency is key – and it will give your clients confidence

For a good client relationship, your measurement needs to be transparent so that your client can trust it. It should not be a mystical formula – it needs to be easy for your client to explain and replicate if needed. That said, when selecting the results to show the C-suite, you need to be able to answer the question, ‘so what?’. It is your job to concisely explain the reason why the activity and results will drive the business forward.

You may be faced with clients not wanting to pay for robust measurement. They might want to use all the money on getting big vanity metrics like reach and amount of coverage. If an objective is to raise brand awareness, but you don’t know exactly where it is currently, then you need to pay for that benchmark research. If you don’t, then you are only assuming that more coverage will increase awareness but will have no data to back it up, which is not ideal.

One of the key questions to ask yourself is, what business goals do your results support? Is it that your client wants to achieve 100 pieces of coverage in the next year? Probably not. Instead, you want to be explaining how that coverage will help the business achieve a goal that has been set by the CEO. To be able to prove your value you need to make sure you are measuring what matters.

Find out more

Our PR experts can show you how to measure and prove the worth of your next PR campaign.

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