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Illustration of a press release with a magnifying glass over a profile picture. Blog post on top 14 PR KPIs for successful PR measurment.

PR Measurement Guide: 14 Must-Have PR KPIs and How to Track Them


Jul 12, 2024

Everyone needs something to strive for to keep them on track. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a great way to make goals more tangible and quantify what was up until now unquantifiable. When you (or your boss) are wondering if you’re doing a good job, KPIs are there to answer your PR measurement questions and nudge you toward even greater heights.

It’s one thing to do everything you can to promote your brand and get your message out, but how you translate this activity into data that business leaders can understand is another thing entirely.

If your reporting is only focusing on brand mentions and social validation (vanity metrics), owned, earned and paid media is likely going to be considered a “nice to have” rather than a valuable driver of business growth.

Your leadership team doesn’t want a dashboard that’s only a list of links to PR clips and some social media snapshots. They want to understand how their investment in earned owned and paid media — and you — is supporting their business goals. Yes, many of your goals center around eyeballs and engagement. But to prove your worth to the leadership team, you also need to measure the right KPIs. Here’s how to get started.


Tip: Learn more about the importance of social media metrics and about campaign measurement in general.

What is a KPI?

KPI stands for "Key Performance Indicator" and it is a measurable value that exhibits how effectively an organization achieves its strategic objectives. Essentially, an effective KPI is an actionable metric that keeps your strategy on track. Organizations use KPIs to efficiently manage, control, and achieve desired business targets. But what constitutes a "good KPI"?

KPIs are only effective if they help PR teams measure and evaluate how their actions contribute to overall organizational goals.

Organizations don’t need to choose too many PR KPIs to be successful, but the quality of each KPI is key—determine which metrics are most important to the organization, which are also dynamic and measurable.

Metrics vs KPIs: What's the difference?

The terms ‘PR metrics’ and ‘KPIs’ are often used interchangeably, but there are distinct differences between them.

For example, metrics refers to the measurement of PR activity whereas KPIs measure performance against a predetermined organization goal and business strategy. In essence, metrics are how you track and report on KPIs.

PR Measurement: Must-Have PR KPIs

We’ve identified 14 proven PR KPIs you’ll want to consider tracking. Always begin with the items that drive greatest business impact. And don’t forget to measure your performance against your competitors in these categories as well.

Looking for marketing metrics? Our blog covers all the metrics and KPIs your marketing team should be tracking!

1. Active coverage

Coverage secured by the PR team. You may want to create a subset of this KPI specifically focused on top-tier publications for your industry and audience.

2. Potential reach

Sum of viewership for publications and websites in which your coverage is featured.

3. Share of voice

Percentage of coverage—for your brand, products, or high-profile executive(s)—compared to competitors. Include several competitors to gauge your place within the industry at large, or benchmark one at a time and drill down into the corresponding media coverage to uncover key differentiators. It’s important to note that share-of-voice can be tracked by volume or reach. For instance, your competitor may have a higher volume in terms of mentions, but you might be in higher-reach publications.

4. Social engagement 

How many shares and social comments the coverage you generate receives.

5. Sentiment

Tone of the articles mentioning your brand or competitors. This metric lets you see if your brand is creating positive or negative associations.

Tip: Learn how to perform sentiment analysis.

6. Media outreach 

The number of press releases and pitches you are sending out and how they are performing. Along with the amount of coverage they generate, you can also measure your progress in building relationships with journalists (a good press distribution tool like Meltwater's provides metrics on open rates and even internal links clicked).

Tip: Use our free press release template to write your next press release and learn how to pitch successfully to journalists.

7. Quality of coverage

The placement of your brand mention (headline, body) and its prominence in the article’s content.

Tip: Learn how to measure and analyze media coverage.

8. Geographical presence

Volume of coverage based on location. Assess your success at targeting key geographical demographics.

9. Key message penetration

Break your coverage down by key themes and measure how strongly you are associated with each one. You can also measure which ones your competitors are associated with and compare your results.

10 Overall media presence

Combine share of voice and sentiment to get a snapshot of your competitive landscape.

Tip: Learn how to conduct a media impact analysis.

11. Earned traffic

The number of visitors that were driven to your website as a result of your earned coverage and link placement.

12. Domain authority

A metric created by SEO software company Moz to predict how well a website will rank on search engines, using a logarithmic, 100-point scale. By securing link placement on third-party sites with a high domain authority, PR can have a big impact on your site’s domain authority and SEO.

Tip: Learn how to write SEO-optimized content, how to optimize a press release for SEO, how to supercharge your SEO with Audience Insights, and how to optimize your YouTube videos for search.

13. Event promotion

PR’s success in driving event attendance, garnering media coverage of events, and building relationships with speakers and attendees.

14. Crisis communications

When trouble hits, you’ll want to measure how quickly PR gets things back to normal. Throughout the crisis, benchmark volume and sentiment to baseline levels from before the crisis started.

Tip: Read our PR crisis management guide

Must-Have Advertising KPIs and How to Measure Them

Close up of a computer screen showing advertising analytics and graphs.

Improve the conversion rate from your advertising strategy by tracking the below KPIs closely:

CPC (cost-per-click)

CPC can be an excellent way to understand campaign-level performance metrics (i.e. which creative or message is driving customers to click), but optimizing for CPC alone won’t give you the data you need to determine if your acquisition efforts are successful and driving a positive marketing ROI.

The main problem with CPC is that it doesn’t tell you what happens after someone clicks your link. Did that person click it by mistake and just go right back to the page they were on? Did they convert? Did they buy something? And, if so, will they buy again? What happens after the click is critical to understanding your true success and ROAS, so focusing exclusively on CPCs keeps you from examining metrics that give you more useful information.

Optimizing for CPC will emphasize quantity of traffic rather than quality. The more clicks you get, the lower your CPCs will be. And while, when viewed in isolation, lower CPCs appear to be good, they fail to provide you the true story of your ad’s success.

You don’t just want clicks, you want the person clicking to take an action. When you analyze down-funnel performance, you may find that higher CPCs are more meaningful in that you paid more to acquire customers who are more valuable to your business.

CPA (cost per acquisition)

Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) lets you determine the cost of the action a user takes to convert. These could include signing up for a subscription, filling out a form, or making a purchase.

Using CPAs to determine the success of your acquisition efforts gives a more comprehensive view of whether or not your paid media is delivering a return.

CTR (click-through-rate)

Click-through rate is the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or advertisement. It is commonly used to measure the success of an online campaign.

ROAS (return on advertising spend)

ROAS measures whether the costs of your acquisition efforts are worth their expenditure by dividing the revenue generated by these costs. To find that percentage, multiply that figure by 100.

Here’s an example of calculating ROAS

Calculating ROAS

If you’re looking at your campaign with your eyes focused on your ROAS over your CPA, it can be much easier to disregard an expensive CPA if your overall return on ad spend is 3x greater than what you’ve spent.

If you’re focusing on optimizing only off of your CPA, you’d potentially pull back on a high-value ad set because you’d be looking at smaller pools of audiences vs. the big picture.

Reporting on PR ROI

There are a few reports you can consider when wanting to prove your ROI, but the two to take note of are: Objective-Specific Reports and Time-Specific Reports.

Tip: Learn how to measure PR ROI.

Objective-specific reports

These reports usually show the impact of your brand, campaign or product, based on the KPI’s you set out. Did you want to increase sales or brand awareness? Were you hoping to get more engagement with your brand through the influencers you chose for a campaign? 

Having a media monitoring tool, like Meltwater, will help you stay on top of these objectives. But once the campaign or product launch is over, you need to analyze the objectives and metrics to understand the impact your brand or campaign had. This is where you can use Objective-Specific Reports, where you are also able to benchmark against your previous campaigns, brand awareness efforts or influencers you used. 

Tip: Learn more about creating media monitoring analysis reports.

Time-specific reports

These reports focus on how successful your objectives were over a specified period of time. Perhaps you ran a campaign with influencers for 2 weeks in the build up of a new product launch. Now you need to measure the impact that campaign. You can do this by using time as a measurement of the progress of your objectives and KPIs. Perhaps traction only picked up a few days after you launched the campaign, or there was a massive increase in mentions on a particular day.

Time-Specific Reports also help you see the trends that happened over the time period of your campaign. Were there more mentions during the evening during the course of your campaign?

Does your social reach or media exposure increase every weekend? These are just a few ways that using a report like this can help you spot some trends within your campaign or brand awareness efforts, and in turn, showcase the effectiveness or success of your initial objectives.

The Right Tools to Measure PR ROI

PR KPIs are worthless if you don’t have the right tools for tracking progress. The combination of tools that your communications and marketing team uses is known as your “marketing and PR technology stack.”

PR measurement and reporting tools like Meltwater will deliver the data you need to track essential PR metrics. As you dive deeper, you’ll want to get yourself familiar with the tools other departments are using and the overlapping goals that you are all supporting.

Using a tool for PR measurement that gives you an in-depth analysis allows you to not just quantify the impact of your campaign, but helps you prove your return on investment (ROI) and justify the success of your campaigns. One sure-fire way to do this successfully, is to implement reports.

In order to measure these KPIs, you’ll need to use the right tools for tracking such metrics and visualizing that data. Analytics dashboards enable you to see your earned, owned and paid media performance metrics and keep track of your KPIs. Using a comprehensive media intelligence platform like Meltwater allows you to track metrics in one place, while providing automated reporting capabilities.

For more information about media KPIs and how to go about measuring them, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch!