Yes, You CAN Measure ROI for Public Relations

By Cara Sloman, Executive Vice President

One of the most common questions we get from clients is how to measure return on investment (ROI) for PR. Measuring the ROI of public relations isn’t impossible. You just need to pick the right key performance indicators (KPIs).Whether the goal is finding new customers, gaining the attention of investors or establishing your organization as an industry leader, an effective public relations program can generate the visibility you need to reach your business objectives.

Defining business objectives starts the process of choosing KPIs. What do you wantto achieve: partnership or investment, sales, client acquisition, competitive dominance or some other goal?Next, identify strategies and tactics that help you achieve those objectives. Finally, select KPIs that measure the efficacy of your selected strategies.

We recommend the following metrics:

1. Domain authority: How important is the publication to your target audience? The more prestigious the placement is, the higher the web page’s ranking will be and the greater the likelihood of that pagegetting good placement in online searches.

2. Sentiment: A qualitative measurement, sentiment indicates the opinion expressed in any article or media post referring to a brand. The sentiment of media coverage directly translates to brand perception, a measure that is critical to the overall equation of how successful a campaign is. Without considering what audiences and influencers are saying and feeling about your brand, an analysis of your PR program is incomplete.

We have a simple, straightforward way to measure sentiment for our clients: the number and percentage of positive, negative or neutral coverage. We track this balance over time to measure how opinion of your brand changes in response toPR strategy and activity. As we learn, we set new goals to measure future efforts.

3. Lead generation and earned traffic:An example of lead generation based on our PR efforts is the number of website visitors directed from press coverage and social media. To measure this, create traceable links for each social platform and set up Google Analytics to track how coverage and social media is driving web traffic and motivating potential customers to complete calls to action, such as signing up for a webinar or downloading a whitepaper.

4. Share of voice: Competitive share of voice (SOV) is linked to market share over time. SOV refers to the percentage of your coverage versus that of competitors, and it demonstrates a brand’s visibility within its target market. Analyzing this aspect of your competitive landscape provides insights into how effectively your efforts are engaging target audiences and capturing the attention of potential customers or partners.

5. Penetration of key messages: The top benefits of your product or solution and the value they offer are your key messages. We recommend establishing and repeating them to ensure consistent brand perception. The metric of success here is whether the coverage reflects your company’s key messages.

6. Engagement with influencers: High-value publications, editors, analysts, peers and bloggers are reputable information sources for your target audience. These influencers are a direct line between your business and your target market. Positive and on-message coverage from these trusted sources convey the value of your brand and its offerings directly to your target audience and establish your presence as one to watch.

Quantity plus quality

Measuring the ROI of public relations isn’t impossible, and it’s not rocket science – but you do need to determine in advance what business outcomes are desired and which measurements will reveal the effectiveness of your efforts.Use a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures to ensure that efforts are on the right track.

Are your PR efforts moving the needle in the right direction? Learn how we can align your objectives with measurable metrics to drive valuable results.