14 Proven PR KPIs That Matter and How to Track Them

Old fashioned computer with headphones. Blog post: 14 proven PR KPIs that matter and how to track them
Old fashioned computer with headphones. Blog post: 14 proven PR KPIs that matter and how to track them

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 the question and nudge you to 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 and appreciate 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.

Must-Have PR KPIs and How to Measure Them

We’ve identified 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 by benchmarking yourself against them.

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.

Potential reach:

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

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.

Social engagement: 

How many shares and comments the coverage you generate receives.


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

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 distribution tool provides metrics on open rates and even internal links clicked).

Quality of coverage: 

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

Geographical presence: 

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

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.

Overall media presence: 

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

Earned traffic: 

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

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, PR can have a big impact on your site’s domain authority and SEO. To learn more, watch our webinar on PR’s SEO superpowers.

Event promotion: 

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

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.

Must-Have Advertising KPIs and How to Measure Them

CPCs – Cost-per-click:

CPCs 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 CPCs along won’t give you the data you need to determine if your acquisition efforts are successful and driving a positive ROI.

The main problem with CPCs 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 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, which may be 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.

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.

As numbers tend to be better expressed visually, here’s an example of 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.

Must-Have Marketing KPIs and How to Measure Them

Due to the diversity of roles in the marketing department compared to PR and advertising, we’ve identified marketing KPIs and grouped them into three broadly defined job functions—comms, digital, and customer marketing—to help zero in on the right marketing KPIs for each team member.

Marketing KPIs for Comms

This area includes roles like content, PR, and social. Goals for these roles likely center around eyeballs. Here are the marketing KPIs that let communications folks know whether they are reaching their audience effectively and what they should focus on to increase engagement. 

Content Marketer

  • Unique visitors to blog:
    number of people who visited content you’ve posted in a given time period
  • Social shares of blog content:
    number of times content was shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Average time on page for blog posts:
    a metric from Google Analytics which tracks the amount of time the average person spends on a page. The average time metric is a crucial part of determining a person’s engagement/interest in an article. Of course, the measurement needs to be smart, it shouldn’t track idle time — how many times have you opened an article in a tab and then clicked away and forgotten about it until later? It should also take into account several other factors when presenting the customer with data, for example, how long was someone on a particular part of the page.
  • Average Page Scroll:
    When it comes to page scroll tracking, it’s also of critical importance when calculating engagement. Speed of scroll as well as the time spent on page combined are much more valuable to a customer than assuming because someone scrolled 75 percent of the page they were engaged. How fast did they scroll through 75 percent of the page? Could they have read and/or viewed the content in that time?
  • Blog traffic as a percentage of site traffic:
    the percentage of people who visit the website who land on a blog page
  • Return visitors to blog:
    people coming to the blog who have previously been tagged as having been on the site

PR Specialist

  • Active coverage:
    coverage secured by the PR team
  • Share of voice:
    percentage of coverage compared to competitors
  • Potential reach:
    sum of viewership for publications and websites your coverage is featured in
  • Sentiment:
    tone of articles published
  • Advertising value equivalency:
    how much it would cost to generate the same number of impressions through ads

Social Media Marketer

  • Managed audience size:
    number of followers, both per channel and overall
  • Total engagement:
    shares, comments, likes, retweets, replies, direct messages, etc.
  • Engagement rate:
    number of people who actively engaged with your posts (RTs, likes, etc) divided by your total number of followers per channel
  • Sentiment:
    tone of articles published and social media posts
  • Average engagement per post:
    the number of times a random post will be shared, on average

Marketing KPIs for Digital

These people, including marketing ops, search engine optimisers (SEOs), conversion rate optimisers (or sometimes acquisition managers), and others are likely more data-focused to begin with. Tracking the number of bookings attributable to marketing is their ultimate goal.

Marketing Ops Manager

  • Raw inquiries:
    these equate to someone raising their hand saying they’re interested in what you do—blog subscription, e-book download, webinar registration, etc.
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs):
    these are leads fit to be sent to the sales team
  • Sales accepted leads (SALs):
    leads accepted by the sales team as ready to be followed up on
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs):
    leads that are recognised as actual opportunities, moving them from the top of the waterfall into the sales cycle
  • Conversion rate between stages: percentage of the people in each stage above who move on to the next stage, including SALs to bookingsWeb Marketer

Web marketer

  • Overall visits:
    total number of visits to the site during a certain time period; if one person visits twice, it counts as two
  • Unique visitors:
    total number of people who visited the site during a certain time period; if one person visits twice, it counts as one
  • Visits per channel:
    the number of visits from specific channels, like referral, paid search (PPC), social, email, etc.
  • Website conversions:
    number of raw inquiries coming from the website during a certain time period, broken out by acquisition channel
  • Cost per conversion:
    a PPC metric that tracks the average amount you pay to receive one conversion over a certain period of time
  • Engagement:
    Every article on a website should be assigned an engagement score that is calculated in a transparent manner. Content owners need to understand how it was calculated just as much as advertisers do. Ideally, engagement will be calculated using three core metrics (to start). Those being average time, average page scroll, and CTR. Why those particular three metrics? Because they are the initial best indicators of a visitors engagement on your site. How long they spend on the page, how far down the page they scroll, and whether or not they click through to another page on your site from that article are all key factors in determining people’s engagement level on a piece of content.SEO Specialist

SEO specialist

  • Traffic from organic search:
    number of visits over a certain period of time that reached the website from a search engine, like Google or Bing
  • PageRank:
    a Google metric that uses an algorithm to determine the importance of any given webpage, based on the quantity and quality of inbound links pointing at that page
  • 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
  • Rank increase to target keywords:
    improvement in search engine result page rank, over time, for specific search queries that were determined in advance
  • Conversions from organic search:
    sophisticated setups can track leads from their source all the way through the marketing funnel—this tracks those who converted via organic search
reporting metrics kpis

Acquisition Manager

  • Number of A/B tests run:
    to incentivise continuous improvement, set a benchmark for the number of tests run during the quarter
  • Test success rate:
    the percentage of tests that led to a positive result—an increase in whichever metric you were tracking
  • Traffic increase from testing:
    the amount of traffic gained in the month following a test, compared to the same period before the test was run
  • Conversion increase from testing:
    since tests are designed to improve conversions, track the increase in conversions from the winning variation
  • Bookings increase from testing:
    tracking bookings in a similar way will show that you’re not only increasing lead quantity, but lead quality as wellMarketing KPIs for Customer Marketing

Marketing KPIs for Customer Marketing

This group might have the most interesting marketing KPIs of all. The customer marketing team normally has a singular focus on growth within the existing customer base. Along with the KPIs listed below, the customer marketer might also want to add case studies and customer quotes, brand advocates, or average customer lifetime value to the goals they measured on.

Customer Marketing Manager

  • Net promoter score:
    a metric built from survey responses, where a ten-point scale is used to determine the likelihood of a customer referring business to you:

0–6 = Detractor

7–8 = Neutral

9–10 = Promoter

Subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters to arrive at the net promoter score.

  • Up-sell:
    when a customer who has a license to product A buys additional features of that productCross-sell: when a customer who has a license to product A buys a license to product B
  • Gross churn:
    there are a few ways to calculate this; the first is to take the percentage of customers up for renewal who do not renew, while the second is to take the money brought in from renewals and divide by the total amount of money that renewals could generate in the month (renewal base)
  • Net churn:
    this represents the gross churn number, except net of up-sells, which brings the number down significantly, sometimes into the negative

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!