Matt co-founded TrendKite in 2012 and oversees all aspects of the organization’s product strategy and development.
Question: What was the tallest mountain on earth before Mt. Everest was discovered?
Answer: Mt. Everest.
This riddle made me groan the first time I heard it, but it does make an interesting point. The mountain is there even if you don’t know where to look. Things are what they are whether you can measure them or not. The old quote goes, “I know half of my advertising dollars are wasted, I just don’t know which half.” This is likely becoming less true as advertisers move to more easily traceable digital media, but for PR, measurement and with it investment justification, remains a challenge. You put out a press release. Did it matter? How do you know if a mention is likely to drive direct website traffic? Is your competitor's earned media more valuable than yours? Questions abound. There are, however, strategies and tools available to help you engage in meaningful PR measurement so you can use resources wisely and improve results.
Metrics that Matter
In order to truly understand the efficacy of your efforts, PR measurement must begin with the right set of metrics. Press release pick up and general earned media count is a starting point, but a deeper understanding of key metrics is needed in order to truly understand impact. Some additional benchmarks include:
- Key message pull through
- Share of voice or competitive analysis
- Total mentions
- Geographic mentions
- Executive mentions
- Top articles
- Top influencers
- Media values
Perhaps the most difficult, yet critical, PR measurement is quality of coverage and mentions. Not all publications, authors and articles are created equal and some placements are far more valuable than others. In order to measure quality, it is necessary to consider things like readership, publication tier, mention placement within the article and unique visitors. Quality has a direct relationship to the ROI of PR, so it is important to understand whether you are an in-house PR professional or an agency.
Accurate and useful PR measurement without software tools is virtually impossible in this digital age. Fortunately for PR professionals of all types, solutions beyond clipping services have evolved that are able to gather, aggregate and assess both the quantity and quality of PR results. The best solutions are able to deliver beautiful, interactive reports that turn information into knowledge and make it easy for clients and management teams to understand the value of their PR investment.
Prove and Improve
In addition to helping prove the results of PR activities, PR measurement solutions also help improve those results by applying sophisticated analysis to the PR ecosystem. Understanding publications, authors, audiences and trending topics can help PR professionals identify timely targets for outreach with specific, relevant content.
If you can’t measure the impact and quality of your PR efforts it’s hard to know exactly how to best apply resources for maximum success. Investing in PR measurement is a good way to know just how far there is to go until you reach the top of the mountain.