Measurement: The PR Metric Buddy System

Oct 26, 2016 Kate Bachman

Follow any public relations related news and you see a lot about “proving the value of PR” or “the ROI of PR.” While I’m not about to tackle the theoretical or philosophical ideas of PR measurement, this post will propose a method redefining the metrics that often appear in reports.

We’re talking measurement, so yay numbers, right? Well … maybe. Most quantitative figures you’d see in a PR report are fairly useless by themselves. (Think about it, what does 1 billion impressions actually mean?) Metrics should provide actionable insights that will help inform strategy, and it’s with that in mind that I propose the PR Metric Buddy System.

This buddy system simply means taking a quantitative metric (impressions, clip volume, etc.) and pairing it up in some fashion with a qualitative metric (message strength, media target publications, etc.) I like to think about it like a math equation:

Quantitative Metric ( + or ÷ or x ) Qualitative Metric = Something Useful.

Here are some examples you can apply to your PR measurement efforts:

  • Impressions ÷ coverage in top target media = How well you’re actually reaching the people who will buy your stuff.

    • Ex: Out of 1 billion media impressions, how many were from the publications on your top priority media list? 100%? Half? None? If the majority of your impressions are not coming from publications that reach your target audiences, are the right people seeing your news?

  • Volume of Clips ÷ Coverage Type (feature, brief, mention) = Effectiveness of an announcement, thought leadership pitch, or story angle. This can also help inform the success of an overall campaign.

    • Ex: You earned five media placements for a new product announcement. Divided by type, four were mentions and one was a brief. The lack of more in-depth coverage suggests that the announcement was not strong enough to garner stronger interest. This could indicate a necessary shift in the story angle and outreach strategy.

  • Share of Voice + Key Messages = how well you’re leading the conversation around your specific product/service/industry, compared to your competitors.

    • Ex: You’re a hospital looking to position yourself as the best in patient safety in your market. The share of voice (SOV)  breakdown for your hospital against two competitors in your market is: You: 30%. Hospital  X: 50%. Hospital Y: 20%. On the surface, you’re doing ok but, add a patient safety message filter to all of the coverage, and you find that Hospital X never talks about patient safety and Hospital Y only has a couple of mentions relating to safety. Now your Patient Safety Message SOV is: You: 90% Hospital X: 0% and Hospital Y: 10%. This could indicate a need to increase efforts around other key message areas and idenfiy other areas to leverage safety leadership.

If you’re up for getting fancy, you can add more variables and complex formulas:

  • (Social Shares + Engagement ) ÷ Target Demographics = How engaging your news coverage is with the people who matter to your business.

  • (Impressions + Frequency) ÷ Message Inclusion = How well your messaging is breaking through the noise.

Taking a well-rounded and slightly more mathematical approach to your PR measurement will not only guide more successful strategies, but it will help you put that value in terms that are easy to understand, which will help get leaders on board with PR efforts and budget.

Have questions or want to know more about PR analytics? Shoot me a tweet: @ChiOkate or connect with InkHouse.

P.S. Couple other things that you should consider when talking PR metrics:

  • Set a benchmark – if you don’t know where you started, you can’t pick the right direction.
  • Have some clearly defined, measurable goals – this might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how generalized and intangible PR goals tend to be. Hint: “Raise awareness’ isn’t specific enough.

P.P.S.  Just in case it crossed your mind, repeat after me: “Ad value equivalency is not a real thing and I will stop even considering using it.”

Topics: Public Relations, Analytics
Kate Bachman

An account director at Inkhouse’s Boston location, Kate has nearly a decade of public relations agency experience, specializing in B2B strategic communications for enterprise technology, logistics and professional services industries. Kate also leads the InkHouse Data team. Always caffeinated and motivated, she takes the work seriously, but typically has a sarcastic comment on hand to keep the team laughing.

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