This post was first published by Blaise Lucey on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.
Say that your tech company recently got covered in a major tech publication like TechCrunch or VentureBeat. For about a week, you see a pretty big spike in traffic going to your website. Maybe a few people even register for a trial of your product or sign up for your email newsletter.
Is all of that traffic related to the article? Could you say that all of it is directly related to public relations outreach?Coverage is one thing. Getting real, measurable business results from PR is another.
March is dedicated to taking the guesswork out of PR. That’s the story of our March Insight division, where our research analysts help show the ROI that clients are getting from each piece of coverage, social media campaign, blog post and more.
In digital PR, metrics are everywhere, so there are a lot of ways to measure PR. If your PR firm is helping build the brand with press releases, web copy, blog posts and social media channels, here are key ways to measure the outcome:
1. Web Traffic
PR firms have become content creators and publishers. They’re marketers and advertisers, too. That’s why one of the most important ways to measure overall ROI from PR efforts is blog or web traffic. If PR firms can point out that traffic to the website or blog has gone up since working with a client, that’s a success.
A “referral” is any link that sends people to a website. PR firms that are helping clients with websites and blogs can track this metric using Google Analytics.
Referrals are key to revealing the success of PR coverage – if there are links back to the client’s website in an online article in the media, referrals will show exactly how many people are clicking that link and being driven to the site from the article.
3. Social Media Shares
Social shares indicate how many people are engaging with PR coverage. In fact, social media is a great baseline to measure how well a message has resonated with the target audience. Not everyone is going to click a link back to the company website, but that doesn’t mean they’ll forget about the company mentioned in a compelling article.
By providing clients with an aggregate of social shares – as well as individual breakdowns for different publications – PR firms can showcase the impact of the coverage. Tools like SharedCount.com and InPwrd.com have made this process extremely easy.
4. Press Release Engagement
Wire services like BusinessWire can offer a lot of information about the performance of press releases, tracking social media engagement, real-time media monitoring, viewership numbers and more. Yet the role of the release in PR has definitely changed – companies don’t just want to use releases to boost coverage, they want to leverage releases for business results.
We’ve talked about how press releases can be used for content marketing. By tracking each link on a release with Bit.ly links, you can measure how many people are being driven to the company website, marketing collateral and more.
5. Outputs & Outcomes
In PR terminology, an output is a piece of coverage. Every PR firm pretty much already supplies clients with the number of articles that have been generated as a result of outreach.
Meanwhile, an “outcome” is effectively a lead that has been generated by a PR campaign. Fewer firms offer the capability to measure and track outcomes in detail. While most of that information often falls to the client’s marketing department, there are ways PR can help with the lead generation process.
As the distinction between advertising, marketing and PR falls away, progressive firms are experimenting with native advertising options, such as LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, Promoted Tweets and Google Adwords. Once those efforts are integrated with a landing page that collects email addresses, firms can quantitatively gauge how many leads have been generated.