A question we often get asked is ‘how do you measure PR success?’

The goal of media relations is generating column inches in print, or air time on the radio or TV. While counting media hits is one way of gauging a campaign’s success, there are other quantitative ways of measuring audience reach and engagement, and the general ROI of public relations.

Yulu PR is an Impact Relations firm, meaning we believe that stories have the power to drive behavior. We challenge ourselves to measure how a campaign influenced consumer behavior, and how it moved the needle on social or environmental change.

Here’s a few ways to measure PR success to consider: 

  • Google Analytics: Today 93 per cent of Americans get their news online either by mobile or desktop. Include a link (if possible) to your company’s website in any news story; this will allow you to track the number of readers that click through to your website via Google Analytics. As a PR agency, this data provides insights on which media outlet/story is most influential in terms of driving consumer behavior.
  • Read the comments: Did the article get comments, and were they supportive or constructive? Look at these comments closely; they could provide qualitative insights on whether the article sparked the debate you were hoping for, or led to consumer behavioral change.

Once an article is posted, keep an eye on the outlet’s homepage to see whether it appears on the ‘trending’ list. Many outlets (e.g. Huffington Post and Vancouver Sun) have a trending column – if your article appears on this list, you know you’ve hit a hot topic & your story is getting good traction.

  • Go Social: 28 per cent of people claim to get their news from social media; and while traffic from homepages has dropped significantly across many news websites, social media’s share of clicks to news sites has doubled. When a news site pushes out a story your company is mentioned in, monitor the post’s traction. How many times is it Liked/ Shared/Retweeted or commented on? What qualitative insights can you gather from the comments?

Also remember to share the news site’s social post on your own social feeds. This amplifies the reach among the online community you’ve already built up, and will drive more traffic to the news site (a win-win for your company & the news outlet).

  • Be impactful: How has your campaign led to behavioral change? This isn’t easy to measure, but if your campaign is designed to be impactful (which is what we specialize in at Yulu) then ask yourself these key questions:
  1. If your campaign was seeking to be socially impactful, how many people have had their well-being improved? Did the media coverage encourage more people to sign up, volunteer or act?
  2. If your campaign was environmentally focused, what difference has been made to the world around us, and can it be quantified or qualified? Did the media coverage lead to action?

When assessing these metrics, consider the ‘outcome’ of initiatives rather than the efforts put in. For example, if the campaign is to encourage consumers to change their daily habits for the good of the environment, you could:

  • Create a ‘Guide to being an Environmentally Conscious Consumer’ (The Guide)
  • Track links from media coverage to the webpage where The Guide can be downloaded; note which media outlets drive the most downloads
  • Measure the number of times The Guide was downloaded
  • Follow up with consumers that downloaded The Guide to learn what tangible changes they made via an online survey

These metrics are far more meaningful than simply talking about the hours invested to create The Guide in the first place.

As the PR industry evolves, so too does the reporting tools available to us. That’s why when it comes metrics, we continue to question, explore and discover new tactics to measure PR success. If you have other ways of measuring a campaign’s impact, we’d love to hear.

Charlotte Gilmour, Director of Client Services