Campaign results should show impact, not just activity..jpgDrowning in data and coverage reports? These three marketing metrics can help prove the efficacy of your PR campaign, without requiring another report.

PR is often thought of as a “soft” marketing tactic, with difficult-to-measure results. But shaping your brand story, creating buzz, generating awareness, plainly stating your differentiators and promoting your offering are all critical to business success.

Rather than focus only on PR activity (number of press releases, media mentions, awards won, etc.) or specialized metrics (circulation, impressions, story sentiment, prominence, etc.), we advocate a “set it and measure it” approach. Work with your communications team to determine what business goals you want PR to support, set a press and publicity strategy to meet those goals and judge your campaign against those targets.

But that takes time. And often what emerges in the space between creating the strategy and achieving the big win is a need to gauge the effectiveness of the PR campaign at this moment—or to at least ensure you’re on the right path. Sure, you can pour through a media report—and you should—but how do you measure PR’s success in improving your business’s bottom line?

We’ve got you covered. And the best news is these metrics don’t require another report. They’re already hiding in plain sight in your digital traffic. So fire up your Google Analytics and CRM reporting tools and let’s get started!

The New Marketing Metrics

1. Top Referral Sites

Referrals online are a lot like referrals in real life—recommendations for further information, endorsed by the site that hosts the link.

Google reports any traffic that comes to your website from a source outside of its search engine as a referral. Click on a hyperlink that takes you from one site to another—from Wikipedia to a page on the Public Relations Society of America site for instance—and Google will count that click as a referral to PRSA.

Taking a look at referral traffic shows you which online media outlets are driving people to your site from earned coverage—and often with surprising results. Lots of businesses want the glossy profile piece and those are important. But supplying a more-technical trade publication with routine content that explains the nuts and bolts of your business can get people on your site and digging into your content library.

Referral sites can also show you if your press release strategy is working as well as you hoped—just look for the traffic from the newswire’s website. Using interior pages of your site or a call to action—rather than just always linking to the homepage—in your release can also help move prospects through your site and give you a better understanding of where visitors are coming from.


2. New and Returning Visitors

If you want to grow your business, you need an increasing amount of new web visitors. PR efforts play an important role in generating awareness of your brand, so if your web traffic is stagnant, it’s time to up your PR push.

Even if your new visitor numbers are in good shape, the first time someone visits is only the start of their journey. You want to hold people’s attention and keep them coming back to your site.

Returning visitors are a measure of trust. Providing ongoing, quality content through a blog, research reports, white papers and more will keep would-be clients returning to your site for new information. Combine these inbound strategies with PR tactics like contributed content and you’ll be able to keep prospects engaged throughout their journey to becoming a customer (and beyond).

You can monitor which domains (companies or new sites) your visitors are coming from and use that info to fuel your sales team and direct your PR efforts.

Using the Annotations tool in Google Analytics, you can flag dates and times of big press pieces and media pushes, like a week-long media tour, and see how those PR efforts translate into traffic—both new and recurring. Looking at how returning visitors navigate your site—what they click on, where they spend their time.


3. Social Referrals and Engagement

Your social media outreach shouldn’t be an afterthought. Social needs to work hand-in-hand with the PR strategy to reach your core audiences. At a minimum, social sites can help you rebroadcast your press wins and advance your corporate story. If you’re sharing your press regularly on social media, create custom URLs so you know which campaigns and press pieces are resonating on individual channels. Look at which social sites top referrals and tease out the campaigns that generate traction.


Where you’re not driving people back to your site, experiment to make your content more engaging and relevant to potential clients. Use photos and videos as visual lures. Evaluate your hashtags and make sure to tag reporters in tweets and posts, as well as retweeting their coverage to get their attention.

Social also gives you a direct line to your audience. Engagement—likes, favorites and comments—can help gauge what motivates your customers. Wading in to the comments can inform what information your prospective clients are looking for and let you deliver that throughout your PR communications.

Like any marketing endeavor, PR needs to demonstrate value as a standalone approach. But it helps to look at how press and publicity contribute to the overall marketing mix. Measuring PR efficacy through digital marketing metrics can help provide a more complete picture of what your PR is delivering—and get you measuring impact, not just activity.


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