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Tools for Measuring Success in Public Relations

Measuring success in public relations can be a real challenge. This is because PR encompasses a whole lot of elements, including content creation, media relations, marketing strategy, social media, crisis communications … and the list goes on. It can be tricky to determine where we thrive and what areas have room for growth. Here are a few of the tools the BIG YAM PR and social media team uses for measuring success in our communications efforts.

Measuring Public Realtions Success – Track All the Things

Amber Liptai, Director of Communications

Measuring the success of public relations campaigns can be challenging as I believe some of the most valuable components of my job are intangible. Especially since there can be a variety of goals. How do you measure top-of-mind brand awareness? What about the increased positive perspective of a company or product? The usefulness of being properly media trained or the crisis story that never gets told? It can be tricky, but we try!

As I mentioned in a previous blog, there are some tangible things we can track. These include the number of media hits (of course!), share of voice among its competitors, changes in a brand’s public perception based on social media/online comments and the tone of published articles. Getting fancy, we also track spikes in website traffic that may correlate to media coverage or launching other campaign components.

Some of the most important tools (aside from the ever-important Google Analytics) are those that help us track coverage. At BIG YAM, we rely on our partners at News Exposure, Cision and BurrellesLuce. We also work with Trendkite and other programs as needed. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes ALL THE THINGS to track every media mention.

Defining Strategy

Curtis Steinhoff, Vice President of Communications

You see this dead horse? I’m about to beat it again.

You can’t have a successful PR (or marketing, or social, or advertising, or paid digital…) campaign if you don’t have a defined strategy for what you’re trying to achieve. I’ve had several executives I supported demand coverage in a specific publication, with no idea what they want to achieve with that coverage.

The goal shouldn’t be “I want to be in The Wall Street Journal.” The strategy should be “I want to educate key influencers or customers who read publications like The Wall Street Journal.” Perhaps, after defining your goals and targets, you find that a better placement in a smaller, more focused publication may pay greater dividends.

As PR professionals, we always chase those big hits, but it is often the multiple, smaller ones that achieve greater results. Once you have your strategy, then the PR campaign becomes one of several elements that build on each other, resulting in the success of your multi-faceted marketing program.

Social Media Success – A Tricky Balance

Chelsea Warren, Social Media Strategist

As I discuss in my blog on social media reporting, it is often extremely difficult to measure social media success. This difficulty is especially true on the organic side. Organic social media is often more about generating awareness, starting conversations and storytelling than it is about the hard sell. All of these traits are hard to measure.

There are key performance indicators that you can (and should) track using software like Sprout Social [], which enable you to see and take advantage of trends with your content. Such KPIs include the monthly (weekly and daily) number of followers, engagements and impressions on your platforms. But numbers on their own are not the be-all and end-all of social media success.

For me, I personally feel successful on social media when I have a balance between these two things:

  1. I see KPIs increasing, which I track using tools like Sprout Social, Google Analytics and Excel Spreadsheets.
  2. I am having meaningful, human interactions with target audiences on behalf of my client. The feeling of success is complete when I see those people I interact with go on to become brand ambassadors for the organization.

Taking A Closer Look At Coverage

Rebecca Dantuono, Communications Coordinator

One way I measure successful PR is through the end result – media coverage. When I see a media hit, it’s always a huge win. But defining success through media coverage is about more than how many news outlets covered your story. It’s about the quality of content, type of publication and audience being reached. After taking all of these things into consideration, you are armed to evaluate your media coverage with a more critical eye.

Securing coverage in a major publication is great. But a big story on the front page means more than a mention in the last line of an article. The amount of people consuming your content also plays a role. That front page story could be in a small, local publication, reaching a couple thousand people. But when the last line mention is in a national publication, it’s reaching a few million. But who are those millions of people? If I want to target an audience interested in real estate and the publication is real estate focused, I know I’m reaching the right people. It’s a tricky measurement to balance, but these are all things to consider when defining success through media coverage.

Measuring Success in PR in 2019

These are just a few ways we measure our PR success, and there are plenty more tools that we use on a daily basis. If you’re interested in learning more about everything public relations and social media have to offer your business goals, contact our agency to learn more.