10 Key PR Metrics You Must Measure to Gauge Success

Intelligent Relations
By Intelligent Relations Team

PR has evolved from a basic tool for generating media coverage to a strategic media monitoring discipline. It’s about molding and managing a brand’s reputation, credibility, and stakeholder relationships. 

Measuring PR metrics in today’s fast-paced digital landscape is of utmost importance. It allows PR professionals to quantify what was previously unquantifiable — impact — and make more informed decisions regarding campaigns and content.  

In this ever-changing digital age, traditional PR methods and metrics are fast falling by the wayside as an emphasis on extensive evaluations of PR efforts takes the reins. 

You want to know, in detail, what kind of return you’re getting on your PR investment. 

To gain a better understanding of media monitoring and the importance of measuring PR metrics, this article will examine: 

  • The Evolution of PR Metrics 
  • The Importance of Measuring PR Metrics
  • Essential PR Metrics for Demonstrating Success
  • Challenges and Future Trends 

Not sure how to set up, track, or gain insight from PR metrics?

We can help. Book a consultation with our PR experts, and we will help you start tracking the PR metrics that matter most.

The Evolution of PR Metrics

Measuring success in the early days of PR was often an exercise in subjectivity. It relied on flimsy, anecdotal evidence, and its primary focus was on media mentions and press coverage. 

There was very little consideration for brand objectives or the actual impact these mentions had on the target audience.

The digital revolution and spread of online platforms have completely changed the digital landscape, ushering in an era of data and tools that can provide detailed measurements and analyses of PR efforts. 

Okay, so we all accept this PR Darwinism — the old ways are fast becoming extinct as fitter methods of metric measurement and media monitoring inherit the PR world. 

But what is the importance of measuring PR metrics? Why should you do it?

5 Key Reasons Measuring PR Metrics is a Must

Let’s take a look at 5 key reasons measuring PR metrics is important to brand impact and overall success.

1. To Demonstrate Value and Return on Investment (ROI)

Measuring PR metrics provides hard evidence of the value PR efforts bring to your brand. Your PR or marketing pros can showcase their contribution to the overall goals and objectives of your brand by quantifying the impact of their PR campaigns. 

Positive impact will secure your trust in the PR efforts they employ as well as faith in future PR projects.

2. To Inform Strategy and Decision Making

Strategic decision making is informed by data-driven insights derived from PR metrics, because you can determine what works and what doesn’t. This allows you to alter, adapt, and refine strategies that yield better results. 

Metrics allow you to identify trends and patterns that you can use to make adjustments that better align with audience preferences and changing media landscapes.

3. To Track Reputation and Perception

Attached at the hip of PR is brand reputation management. Sentiment analysis, brand mentions, and media coverage help gauge public perception. This is invaluable information for: 

  • Mitigating Potential Crises
  • Addressing Negative Perceptions
  • Reinforcing Positive Associations

4. To Benchmark and Conduct Competitive Analysis

PR metrics also facilitate benchmarking against industry peers and competitors. Share of voice (SoV), media placement, and social engagement are crucial for assessing authority in a particular industry and identifying areas that need improvement. 

Analyzing these metrics also allows you to set realistic goals and performance targets. 

Pro Tip: To calculate SoV, divide your brand’s metrics by total market metrics and multiply by 100. For example, if your brand earns mentions in 100 publications, and there are 1,000 publications in your market, then your brand has a 10% SoV. 

5. To Enhance Accountability and Transparency

Measurable PR metrics foster accountability within PR teams. Quantifiable results make it easier to assign responsibility. It also aids in the evaluation of individual and team performance. 

A transparent reporting of PR metrics strengthens stakeholder trust and demonstrates the integrity of you PR efforts.

Just getting started with PR analytics? Not sure how to gather insights to inform your decision making? You can learn more here: 7 Step Guide to PR Analytics: Unveiling Insights for Strategy Enhancement

10 Essential PR Metrics for Demonstrating Success

An analysis overdose isn’t good for anyone, so keep in mind that you don’t need to measure every metric on our list. You can still derive meaningful insights by focusing on select metrics that suit the objectives of a particular PR campaign. 

Let’s take a look at 10 important PR metrics to consider for demonstrating successful PR efforts and impact:

1. Media Impressions and Reach

Media impressions quantify the potential audience exposed to PR messaging. While this metric reflects the broad reach of a PR campaign, you can supplement it with more detailed data to gauge its effectiveness. 

“Potential audience” is the key phrase here. This metric doesn’t quantify actual conversions. It shows you your potential reach. You could earn a publication with an audience of over a million, but not every member of that audience will see your mention, let alone be influenced by it. 

Examining referral traffic in addition to reach provides a more accurate figure of conversions within that potential audience.

2. Earned Media Value (EMV)

EMV estimates the equivalent cost of earned media coverage as if it were paid advertising. 

Using this PR metric to translate efforts into monetary terms enables an accurate comparison to paid ad expenses. 

Think of this metric as quantifying word-of-mouth recommendations — referrals, reviews, blog posts, etc. It demonstrates organic interest, whereas paid ads are thrust upon the public.

 Pro Tip: Creating more engaging content — optimized articles, videos, visuals, etc. — can help maximize EMV, but you shouldn’t heavily rely upon this metric. Engagement doesn’t always correspond with advertising costs, and users may enjoy the content, but not actually convert.

3. Share of Voice (SoV)

Share of voice measures brand presence in the media landscape and comparative industry authority in relation to competitors. This is a useful metric for benchmarking PR success and sizing up the competition.  

Let’s say your brand is mentioned in 70 articles this month, and there are 100 articles in circulation about your industry — your SoV is 70%.

A high SoV indicates a strong media presence and industry influence.

4. Sentiment Analysis

Understanding an audience’s sentiment toward your brand is vital. 

Sentiment analysis processes the natural language in brand mentions to determine whether the comments are positive, negative, or neutral. 

It’s usually a feature built into tools for brand monitoring and social media listening. Social listening tools allow you to monitor the sentiment of posts that mention your brand by assessing likes, comments, and shares. 

But how should you use this PR metric? 

Let’s say Linda is a restaurant owner with a good reputation. Linda’s restaurant gets called out on social media for bad service, subpar food, or poor sanitation — it happens all the time. 

Now, the poster’s criticism is most likely subjective, but it can still negatively impact the restaurant’s reputation. 

Linda finds these posts thanks to her social listening tool. The tool shows her all the comments that it’s identified as having a negative sentiment so that Linda knows what to address. 

Linda needs to mitigate the situation by engaging the unhappy customer in a way that salvages her restaurant’s reputation and maintains positive sentiment.

Also note that reviews and star ratings can give you easy insight into customer sentiment toward your brand. Customers are heavily influenced by such social signaling. 

It’s important to keep an eye on bad reviews or one-star ratings as a handful can have a negative impact on brand perception and dissuade potential customers.

So, for sentiment analysis, your PR metrics can include:

  • Number of Positive and Negative Reviews
  • Number of Positive and Negative Star Ratings
  • Number of Positive and Negative Social Engagements
  • Number of Positive and Negative Online Brand Mentions
  • Position of Negative Mentions Over Positive Mentions

Pro Tip: You can use sentiment analysis to prove PR value by providing evidence of positive sentiment increases after crisis mitigation. Sentiment analysis can also inform PR teams on past points of decline to help avoid future crises.

5. Media Placement Quality

Not all media coverage carries the same weight. Measuring the quality of media placements by taking key factors into consideration — outlet credibility, prominence, and relevance — provides a more nuanced view of PR impact. 

Hundreds of low-quality publications aren’t quite as valuable as a single mention in AARP: The Magazine — they had a reach of over 37.5 million people in 2022

Targeting and research also play a crucial role in media placement quality. Research and pitch publications that most align with your target audience.

6. Website Traffic and Referral Sources

PR efforts should drive traffic to an organization’s website. Monitoring referral sources as one of your PR metrics helps identify which PR activities are driving traffic and engagement.

Web traffic can be broken down into 3 visitor categories: 

  1. New Visitors – New traffic often originates from referral sites or organic search results. That’s thanks to your PR and SEO  efforts. You can use new visitors as a way to measure the effectiveness of PR and SEO efforts on brand awareness. 
  1. Returning Visitors – Returning traffic indicates that your site has authority and trustworthiness. It also shows that your content is resonating with the target audience.
  1. Mobile Visitors – Google now prioritizes mobile-friendly content. Keeping an eye on the number of mobile visitors as one of your PR metrics can help you make sure your content remains SEO-friendly and that Google is rewarding you with top positioning.

As previously mentioned, web traffic referral metrics add a more precise dimension to media impressions and reach. 

Pro Tip: Measuring traffic sources and compiling visitor data provides invaluable insight into user behavior to better inform PR strategies and SEO efforts. 

Want to know how to combine PR and SEO for greater impact? We’ve got you covered! Read more here: PR SEO: Synergy for Success [Tips, Tactics, and Best Practices]

7. Social Media Engagement

Engagement metrics on social media platforms — likes, shares, and comments — indicate how well PR resonates with audiences and drives conversation. 

A social media presence and steady interaction with followers is essential in the digital age.

Posting regularly and replying to comments keeps your target audience engaged and impacts overall brand sentiment.  

Want to know how to combine social media and PR for greater impact? We’ve got you covered there too! Read more here: Social Media PR – 6 Easy Ways to Connect With Your Target Audience

8. Inbound Leads and Conversions

Quantifying leads and conversion rates that come from PR content as part of your PR metrics provides a direct link between PR activities and business outcomes. 

Knowing how many people are coming to you and what percentage makes a purchase is necessary for understanding the value of PR efforts and a brand’s overall success. 

Pro Tip: Google Analytics may not be enough for precise conversion measurements. Sales team consultations and benchmarking will yield more accurate conversion data.

9. Crisis Response Time and Change of Perception

In the event of a PR crisis, swift and decisive action is required. When customers lose trust, you lose customers, and social media can fan the flames of a PR fire before a mitigation plan leaves the station.

Monitoring how quickly PR teams respond to a crisis is crucial. 

Assessment of changes in sentiment and perception after the response showcases important insight on crisis management strategies. 

Let’s say Alex is in charge of brand monitoring for Glazy Bonez Doggy Donuts — a subscription-based dog treat company. He comes across an article claiming that their new glaze flavor is giving Shih Tzus a funny tummy. 

The article is starting to trend within the pet community on social media platforms. 

Positive sentiment is plummeting. 

He needs to act fast. 

Luckily, Glazy Bonez already has a crisis response team in place. Alex alerts the team, and they take immediate action. 

  • They release a statement within the hour on their official website and social pages that acknowledges the issue, owns the mistake, apologizes to affected parties, and promises a prompt resolution. 
  • They encourage friendly outlets to share their statement.
  • They employ a social media strategy to get ahead of rumors and engage their audience directly. 
  • They post updates and respond to customer concerns across social platforms in real-time to mitigate sentiment decline.
  • They waive subscription fees for one year for customers who were directly affected. 
  • They closely monitor sentiment analysis metrics to gauge the efforts of their response. 
  • They reconsider certain ingredients in future glaze recipes. 

Due to social media, 69% of crises can spread to 11 countries within 24 hours. It takes most companies 21 hours to even react. That’s only a 3 hour window to avoid an international crisis. 

In Alex’s case, the team’s response was swift and decisive. They took responsibility and offered recompense. Their metrics should show a redirection of sentiment, and a post-crisis evaluation of brand reputation will indicate that their crisis strategy was effective. 

10. Brand Awareness and Recognition

Positive public perception is a massive brand boon. To keep an eye on this, media monitoring platforms and tracking tools, like Google Analytics, are essential. 

Online polls, surveys, and focus groups are also useful for measuring brand awareness and recognition among target audiences before and after PR campaigns.

For example, if your website has experienced a significant traffic increase, and much of that is referral traffic, it’s safe to infer that the PR campaign was successful at increasing brand awareness. 

From an SEO standpoint, increased traffic from search engine results pages (SERPs) and  higher click-through rates (CTRs) indicate improved brand recognition and a trustworthy perception. 

Once you’ve gathered all your metrics and data, you’ll want to put it into a report so you can see what’s happening. Find out how: PR Reporting – How to Use Data to Get Better Results [+3 Examples]

Challenges and Future Trends for PR Metrics

There’s no doubt that measuring PR metrics offers a bunch of benefits, but this necessary practice is still riddled with persistent challenges. Attributing specific outcomes solely to PR efforts in an integrated marketing landscape comes to mind. 

Notice how many of the PR metrics listed above included metrics that are often recorded by marketing, social media, and SEO managers. There is a clear overlap among these activities.

Another hurdle is that interpreting data — and translating it into meaningful action — requires a firm grasp on PR objectives and the context of PR metrics. 

Goodbye, crisis mitigation. Hello, migraine mitigation. 

But it’s worth it!

Looking to the future, advances in technology will play a substantial part in refining PR measurement techniques. The rise of AI and machine learning will enhance the accuracy of sentiment analysis while newfangled tracking tools will provide real-time insights into media coverage and social engagement.  

In Full Measure

Measuring PR metrics is no longer an optional task. It’s a fundamental requirement for the accurate appraisal of PR impact. 

Quantifying success through tangible metrics enables PR teams to form more effective strategies, showcase ROI, and improve organizational decision making. 

In this rapidly evolving digital world, the effective measurement of PR metrics is a key differentiator for successful PR campaigns and long-term reputation management.

Need to start tracking important PR metrics today? Let us help! Simply book a free consultation with us to get expert insight into how to start tracking the right PR metrics.