5 Useful Hacks to Measure a Public Relations Campaign with Actual Data

Ten years ago, PR efforts were necessary but somewhat unmeasurable. Today, PR is a key tool for driving engagement and creating a community around a brand, and thankfully, efforts can be measured. Measuring tactics such as dissecting content analysis of articles is good, but it’s somewhat arbitrary, and clients now want more numerical results. While some tactics such as diving into any negative points made in press pieces are somewhat relevant, here are five data-driven ways to calculate how successful a PR campaign is or is not.

1. Count Social Shares

Count the social shares of each piece of press coverage you receive with Buzzsumo. Directly paste the URL of your blog post or article into the Buzzsumo search bar, and Buzzsumo will display the total shares your content has received to date. There is a limit to how many free searches you can do per day, but the tool is great for collecting social data.

2. Track Leads

There are a few ways to track leads from media coverage. First, look at analytics to see how much traffic came from the article. This number isn’t that helpful, but it’s a start. Before starting a PR campaign, set up Goals in Google Analytics. Kissmetrics gives a useful blog post to do this.

This information will tell you how many people came from a PR opportunity and actually did something -- signed up for a newsletter, filled out a contact form, downloaded a white paper, etc. This all depends on what goals you want the user to complete when they land on your page.

Measurements like these are essential because they show what works and what doesn’t. We all have clients dying to be in The New York Times or TechCrunch, but do those opportunities result in leads? Or do they just get a lot of people to the website who then click off and do nothing? Having this data-driven information can help you make informed decisions on what type of press to pitch next.

3. Measure Conversions in the Funnel & Sales

Luckily, Kissmetrics created a video on how to set this up in Google Analytics as well. After a press opportunity, you want to track if any sales resulting from it. Or, and this is especially important for B2B companies, if any conversions in the funnel happened. For B2B businesses, this is going to be a longer process, but it’s vital to track leads from PR pieces to see if they do become sales so the PR team can then replicate their efforts.

After you find how many sales came from the PR campaign, you can calculate an ROI for the client.

4. Measure Domain Authority

Another way to measure a PR campaign is to track domain authority before and after a PR campaign to see if particular keywords rose because of media. Take specific keywords highlighted in your release and media pitch and measure their domain authority using a tool like Moz before the campaign (and take screenshots). After the campaign is over, see if you see a spike in your search engine rankings.

5. Count Brand Mentions and Backlinks

Brand mentions, though not tied to sales, is essential to know how your brand is viewed in the online space. Measure brand mentions with tools such as SocialMention, Mention, or TalkWalker.

Backlinks are still important to SEO, so measure those with a tool such as Ahrefs. Backlinks do have some relevance for search engine rankings, and if your PR campaign resulted in coverage from high-quality publications, this could mean a considerable SEO boost for your brand.

It’s time to move away from measuring website traffic and press clippings because those numbers don’t really say how well a press campaign performed. Now with more easy-to-use data tools available, PR professionals should rely on metrics to track campaign success. Using these five hacks, you can give clients a real, data-driven report with measured ROI.

Want more PR hacks? Download our eBook 50 Public Relations Hacks for Startups: Tactics for startups to find, pitch, and stay in the media to learn more.