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How to Modernize Your PR Measurement (+3 Examples)

August 26, 2019

Trust is the enabler of behavior and the currency of commerce.

Customers are willing to pay more and invest, tell others, and come back when they have confidence in a product, brand, or service.

Earning – or losing – your customers’ trust affects your brand’s bottom line. According to Edelman’s In Brands We Trust, brand trust ranks as one of the top considerations for product purchases. Brands that offer superior products or convenient customer experiences are prone to fail if they do not evoke trust. Maintaining a relationship with your customers has never been more important. 

Modern PR measurement 

PR professionals play a critical role in establishing customer trust. Communicators are responsible for securing hundreds, if not thousands, of earned media placements. They generate positive articles, react to crises, and reach customers across an array of trusted channels. From awareness to purchase – earned media plays a crucial role at every stage of the customer journey.

Unfortunately, PR pros lack the data and technology to prove their value. Vague, indeterminate measures like unique visitors per month (UVPM) or ad value equivalency (AVE) may mean something to the PR community, but they mean nothing to the c-suite.

According to the 2018 Global Comms Report, 77 percent of senior executives feel the comms industry can do better at measuring and proving its impact on business objectives. Top executives need complete and meaningful communications intelligence, and so should PR pros. From measuring top-of-funnel awareness to tracking the bottom-line results, communicators need to quantify their business impact.

Modern PR measurement empowers brands to measure the efficacy of their communications based on the actual reach of a message and the specific business outcomes driven by earned media coverage. It is predicated on the idea that measurement should be based on both the quality of coverage, as well as how that coverage drove specific business outcomes.

Modern communicators should strive to answer three questions about their earned media coverage: how many, who are they, and what did they do?

1. Validate audience reach

If you don’t have data, it didn’t happen. Data – or lack thereof – has been a decades-long void for PR pros. Metrics like potential reach UVPM and circulation numbers do little to answer the question "How many people saw our coverage?" 

Today’s technology warrants a more accurate look at earned media coverage. Validated viewership is accessible for any topic across the web. Modern PR measurement empowers communicators to disregard the 280+ million people who visit the NYTimes website each month and focus on the number of eyeballs that read a specific article.

With modern data, PR pros can: 

Quantify the true reach of their earned media coverage
Differentiate unique visitors vs. repeat visitors to benchmark new audiences
Recognize which media publications are most impactful to audiences

2. Get to know your end-audience

The ability to confirm audience reach is a big step forward for PR professionals, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Breakthroughs in technology allow PR professionals to plug into the adtech ecosystem that marketers have relied on for years to answer the question: who is my earned audience?

Communicators today can access detailed demographic and firmographic data about their end-audience. This powerful data eliminates the guesswork about audience readership. PR pros can demonstrate that they reached female audiences age 25-35 with two kids and a household income of more than $75,000.

With modern data, PR pros can: 

Benchmark message resonance on target audiences
Uncover new market segments and media opportunities
Optimize media relations strategy based on audience personas

Tip: Firmographic data isn't exclusive in its usefulness to just PR professionals. Learn how marketing and sales teams can use firmographic data to hone in on a target audience.

3. Prove business value

Tracking top-of-funnel awareness is important, but PR pros need to demonstrate how they impact customer behavior throughout their entire path to purchase. Modern communicators should strive to measure like their marketing counterparts and aim to answer the question – what specific actions do earned audiences take?

Internet users are cookied.

With great precision, marketers can track user activities of their customers and prospects. Modern PR measurement relies on this same technology to capture the actions their earned media audiences take. Finally, PR professionals can show their CMO an earned campaign resulted in 500K website visits and generated in 25K shopping cart conversions or leads generated.  

Related: Learn how G2's Learn Hub was able to scale to 1 million monthly visitors in organic traffic in just one year.

With modern data, PR pros can: 

Learn how audiences interact with owned properties after they read an online article
Align PR KPIs to business objectives
Track shopping cart conversions and/or leads generated

Takeaways

It’s time for communicators to break down the earned media silo and serve as a data-driven partner to the marketing organization. Audiences place the most trust in earned media. With modern PR measurement, brands can capitalize on that trust by turning comms into a business driver. 

Want to take a deeper dive into all things public relations? Browse our PR hub with over 30 resources to expand your knowledge. 

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