How to measure PR’s impact on key business objectives and the bottom line.

There’s always been a struggle for PR pros to accurately measure and prove PR’s value. My colleague recently outlined how agencies used to painstakingly equate media coverage to ad spend dollars, and now too often rely on inflated digital impression numbers.

The problem with these methods is that they rarely answer the most pressing question: What’s the real impact of public relations efforts on ROI?  

For example, while you may truly appreciate being mentioned in USA Today or being ranked as a top vendor in your industry, what you and your executive team really want to know is how these results affect the bottom line. This is not an unusual request, and in fact, 70 percent of B2B marketers would shift more of their budgets to PR if it could be related to financial impact.

How PR can measure up to today’s expectations

To truly show PR’s impact on ROI, results need to be quantitative and measurable. PR teams should align their reporting and measurement methods with marketing and sales departments in order to detail qualified leads that come from their efforts, the cost to acquire those leads and the lifetime value of those customers.

In doing so, they’ll be able to connect the dots between PR and its impact on business objectives. For example, PR agencies today should be able to track how a mention in a top trade publication significantly improved SEO. Or show how visitors from that same article resulted in a spike in website traffic from visitors that took the desired action, such as signing up for a demo. In fact, our research proves that the most qualified website traffic often comes from news outlets.

So what should your PR agency be doing to truly measure what matters? Let’s break it down:

  • Set measurable and meaningful goals: The problem with simply reporting digital impressions is that the number of potential views of a piece of coverage does not correlate to the number of leads that resulted from that coverage. Instead of setting arbitrary placement and impression goals, PR, sales and marketing teams should work together to ensure they are all working toward similar goals. For example, PR can set a goal to contribute a certain percentage of marketing qualified leads per year.
  • Leverage digital marketing tools: PR teams should no longer limit their digital toolbox to media monitoring services and press release distribution platforms. Digital marketing platforms like SEMrush and Google Analytics offer endless insights that can be used by PR teams, such as monitoring a business’ reputation against competitors or determining the SEO value of media hits.
  • Analyze what efforts are making an impact on the bottom line: We’ve previously addressed why Google Analytics is essential to tracking referral traffic that comes from media coverage, but did you know it can also connect many other PR efforts to sales? Not only can you track whether users are converting into leads from media hits, but the same principle can be applied to any part of a PR campaign that directs to a business’ website. Curious to see how many referrals came from an award feature? Or want to know what actions are taken as a result of a social campaign? Google Analytics is the perfect tool for measuring the impact of these initiatives, as it offers visibility into the actions taken as prospects from any PR-related effort enter the funnel.

The good news is that agencies, marketers and in-house comms teams overwhelmingly agree that changing the perception of PR’s impact must go beyond measurement, and instead focus on demonstrating how PR initiatives achieve business objectives.

Unlike many agencies that are just starting to figure out how to answer this age-old, ARPR has a proven track record of helping clients achieve their most important KPIs through measurable, data-driven results. Check out our Panorama Approach to learn more.

A PR News’ Rising Star, Erika steers creative integrated communications campaigns to help clients land top-tier headlines and drive qualified sales leads through the magic of PR.