Guest Post: The PR Guessing Game Is Gone for Good

Brianna Taylor, PPRA member and Director of Public Relations at Garfield Group, shares the benefits of efficient data and analytics to PR. The complete post and its supporting images can be found on the Garfield Group blog.

It’s 2019. And the word of the year is “data” (don’t fact check me on that).

Today, data is as essential to modern marketers as oxygen. But this necessity isn’t always satisfied so readily. Most CMOs and their agencies know that they need data to measure the effectiveness of their programs. But when it comes to measuring PR efforts, there are often questions about what to measure and how to prove a true ROI.

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PR and Data — Together At Long Last.

According to the 2019 Global Communications Report from the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations, big data analytics is the top skill that future PR and communications professionals will need to be successful. What’s more, “70 percent of B2B marketers would shift more of their budgets to PR if it could be related to financial impact,” reports Cision.

As a result, the PR industry has been adapting to prove the impact of their programs. It’s why at Garfield Group, we’ve begun to provide our clients with custom-tailored analytics dashboards — readily displaying the metrics that best indicate how well we’re delivering on their communications objectives.

A Portfolio of PR Metrics.

What are the most important public relations metrics? Of course the answer is those that measure success against specific KPIs or communications goals. It’s a customized view of what matters most to an organization. To provide some examples, however, we’ve outlined four of the most common data/metrics categories here:

Media Mentions

This is a simple count of the number of times a brand is mentioned in the media. Media mentions can be tracked over time to show an increase in the company’s “share of voice” in a particular industry and the traction of PR investments.

Media Impressions

Impressions are a measure of how many people “might have” seen the brand in media coverage. This includes calculating the potential audience reached with a given media mention or an entire campaign of clippings. (Note: this is not our favorite metric, because it typically inflates the sense of a brand’s true exposure. It is, however, a metric that clients frequently ask to measure.)

Content Scoring 

This is a real powerhouse metric. Content scoring is a measure of the quality of coverage a brand received. It’s a methodology to derive a true value of coverage – customized to unique goals and measured on a scale of, say, 1 to 10. Such a system might include considerations such as mentions of key messaging or talking points, whether a publication is one of your top media targets, how prominent your brand was in the coverage, and whether or not coverage was positive.

Traffic Generation

Website traffic and social media reach over time — since the beginning of a PR campaign, for example — are good barometers of the value of the PR investment. By including links in contributed pieces, we can also analyze how many website visitors are directly attributed to specific outlets or pieces of content. This measurement can help identify which sources are referring the most traffic to a website.

Everything in context.

Few marketers are throwing their entire budget into public relations alone. So which strategies best supplement investment in measurable PR?  Integrated marketing is the key — crossing traditional boundaries to combine PR with digital media, social media and beyond. (Look no further than how Oreo’s simple but fun Super Bowl tweet blew up. Seriously, look at all the coverage for “dunk in the dark.”) According to the 2019 Global Communications Report, 90% of respondents predict that the relationship between PR and marketing will become more integrated over the next five years.

As always, the key is your needs, your goals, and your vision. It’s essential to applying insightful strategies and creativity to solve problems and then do a great job of evaluating and measuring the outcomes. Only then can you understand how all forms of communications — including public relations, of course — are moving your business forward.

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