The Specificity of Metrics in Digital PR

The public relations industry has experienced an impressively fast change over the past few years, with the landscape becoming increasingly digitalised and now covering areas that were traditionally considered to fall in the “marketing” category. To be successful in PR today, you have to incorporate new channels such as social media, bloggers or influencers to your strategy. This also means that you can no longer use the same old-fashioned metrics to measure your campaigns’ success.

Easier said than done! Indeed, measurement has always been an issue in PR. The nature of the industry itself makes things difficult: it’s a very fast paced environment where measurement was not always seen as a top priority. What’s more, PR used to focus more on words and creativity and not numbers or analytics. What makes matters worse is that identifying the outcomes and value of a PR campaign and what this means in term of revenue is not an easy thing.

Public relations is an industry that’s previous primary focus has been “earned media”. It defines its value in terms of trust and legitimacy; in one word, credibility. This can take the form of customer reviews, recommendations, ratings and stories. The metrics used to measure the success of a PR campaign are therefore drastically different from the ones used for other types of advertising.

You must certainly be wondering how one can measure trust?

While we used to focus on metrics such as unique visitors, page views or social media audience size, you should now rather focus on quality metrics that are able to better reflect the engagement of your audience. This can be done using metrics such as:

  • Email open rates – this helps determine whether your audience finds your emails engaging and how they interact with your content, enabling you to modify your work over time to better catch their attention.
  • In terms of social media, looks for things such as:
    o Likes per post – when it comes to social media it’s all about nurturing your community, and likes per post gives you indication of your audience’s interests and what resonates with them.

    o Shares per post – this is a superior level of engagement. It indicates what your audience finds spread-worthy and gives you their seal of approval. Sharing is a bit like investing themselves in your post and wanting to talk about it.

    o Comments per post – this allows you to know how your content is received and how “fans” interact with it. It also helps building a sense of community since your fans will be able to interact with each other.

    o Clicks per post – this indicates that people are interested in what you are sharing and are actively looking to know more about it.

  • As for your brand, look for things such as:
    o Mentions and publications in third party media: article placement, guest blogs etc.
    o Participation at conferences, forums or any kind of public event in general.
    o Word of mouth: public reviews, ratings and recommendations.

To sum up, these metrics allow you to collect feedback first-hand from your customers.

Finally, it is also essential to measure the long-term effects of your coverage by tracking your referral links or increased traffic in Google Analytics, while segmenting the results by channels.