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5 Alternative PR Metrics Worth Monitoring

Wesley Mathew

Feb 4, 2020

Whether you work in-house, at an agency or are servicing several clients in an independent capacity, one thing is certain – regular reporting back to your customers, be they internal or external, is a vital part of any PR manager’s job.

Taking time to quantify the ROI your activities generate, as well as reflecting on successes and shortcomings in your strategy, is a crucial component in the consummate PRO’s journey. How else are we meant to learn and develop our ideas, not to mention, validate the efficacy of our PR efforts?

The question of which metrics to address is one that comes up regularly in the PR community and is often the basis of highly-contentious debates as people argue for or against a variety of typical public relations KPIs such as AVE, impressions and social media engagement. Many agree that some traditional PR metrics are like putting lipstick on a pig – AVE, for example, is a known vanity metric which has zero bearings on the value PR adds to brands and how they are perceived by the public. It’s outdatedness as a PR metric is further exposed in the context of a shifting, digitally-powered public relations landscape where quantitative data enlightens PR people of their successes and failures.

In this post, we’ll share some different public relations metrics and tell you why they should form part of your reporting framework. While measurement is critical, it is insufficient in a silo and data is useless unless you can extract insights that offer real value – these insights are found in the dynamic cause-and-effect relationships entrenched in data. Data that enrich a report should correlate with organisational objectives and should be mappable to sustainable, real-world outcomes.

It must be noted that the indicators which follow aren’t intended as a one-size-fits-all silver bullet for PR measurement and evaluation; some apply to earned media while others are better suited for tracking the effectiveness of a content marketing campaign; all of them work in unison for more intelligent PR reporting. Here are five alternative PR metrics that should matter more in 2019 and beyond.

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Placement Rate as a Metric for Measuring Pitches

Evaluating your placement rate – that is the pitches and stories you reach out with in relation to those that “land” successfully – can help you assess the effectiveness of your outreach and, if necessary, empower you to level-up your pitch strategy before you exhaust your media list on a single earned media initiative. Much like an optimisation specialist will calculate conversion rate, PRs can calculate placement rate by dividing the number of targets (media, bloggers or otherwise) they’ve pitched by the number of stories they place successfully. Placement rate is useful to gauge the performance of pitches and outreach in public relations, content marketing and earned media activities.

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Share of Voice to Ascertain Your Influence

Measuring Share of Voice will help you keep your finger on the pulse of how much of the conversation your brand dominates among target audiences. It’s a useful metric for determining the value you derive from how people perceive your brand and, more importantly, it offers a practical benchmarking exercise to find out how your slice of the conversation stacks up against competitors in your field. Regular monitoring of your brand’s share of voice will give you an edge over competitors – if you see your share of voice decreasing, it could signal areas you’ve neglected to focus on.

Using the largest inventory of social media and online content in the business, Meltwater’s media intelligence tools use Share of Voice as one of the many available PR metrics, making it easy to track and manage conversations related to your brand, in real-time.

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Brand Sentiment to Keep Tabs on Real Conversations

Sentiment analysis looks at the tone of media and conversations about your brand and is a reliable methodology for gauging how people feel about your brand be it positive, negative or neutral. After consolidating the brand and product mentions you create from a PR, content marketing or earned media campaign, analysis of the resultant content can help you understand your brand’s position in the overarching conversation related to your niche. Realistically, brand sentiment will never be one hundred percent positive. As such, it can be used to identify areas of improvement and linked to organisational outcomes in a way that sparks change in negative opinions about your brand, products or services.

Meltwater’s Media Intelligence tools help you combine rich digital metrics with media mentions to accurately measure how your brand resonates with your core audience.

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Clarity of story to stay on message

Measuring the clarity of the stories you publish can be trickier to pin down than most PR metrics. Ultimately, effective storytelling is about making an emotional and memorable connection with the recipient; as a result, it can be difficult to be precise in gauging a target audience’s understanding of a story. Clear stories will resonate with an audience and inspire them to take a desired action, however, to measure this per initiative can make for inexact reporting which is why it’s better to take a holistic view and measure the effectiveness of a story arc and the momentum it builds over time.

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Use owned data to measure progress

In PR peoples’ panic to prove their value, historical data is often overlooked as a practical means of analysing the quality and impact of our work. Sometimes, you don’t have to look too far to take stock of your PR efforts … looking at the data you already have at your disposal is a metric which aligns with this way of thinking. Owned data is only viable as a PR metric if you have a history to compare the current view against. Therefore, only consistent and meticulous reporting built-up over time will enable you to incorporate it into a broader picture of what goes into your public relations and content marketing and the outcomes thereof.