How we measure PR's impact and value

PR’s impact on a business has been notoriously hard to measure for decades. Before the internet, account executives were cutting clips from newspapers and calculating ad equivalency based on their size. Now, some agencies give their clients impression figures or the number of unique visitors to a website to impress them with large numbers and statements like, “We placed the article on a website that receives 25 million unique monthly visitors.”

It’s this type of measurement that gives the PR industry a poor reputation, which is ironic given that PR is fundamentally about maintaining reputation. In the last couple of years, however, there’s  been a shift among a few PR agencies, Red Fan included, to revolutionize how our efforts are measured.

When you’re considering agencies to hire, ask them how they measure their work. The good ones should have a response similar to this:

“Our platform has a Google Analytics integration.” This can’t be stressed enough. The ability to integrate GA into a larger analytics platform allows us to track PR web traffic, session length on your website and more. It’s one of the most useful metrics for both our clients and us, providing insight into what types of stories and placements are affecting your customers’ behavior and and actions. Unfortunately, many platforms don’t offer Google Analytics integrations, depriving client and agency alike of a a valuable set of insights. (For the record, requesting Google Analytics information is one of the first things we ask new clients.)

“We can customize our metrics to align with what’s most important to you.” Some analytics platforms are too rigid to support this claim, but not every metric is important to every client. One may prefer overall share of voice to measure against core competitors. Another might find the most value in total mentions in the press over a given length of time. Still another might want to extract key messages from stories to determine how well company positioning is resonating with the press and the public. The ultimate point here is that an agency should be able to adjust its performance metrics to your preferences and goals, not the other way around.

“We will give you a robust reporting structure and deliverable that you can take with you to your boss and board.” A PR agency should feel confident that the work it’s doing will be accurately reflected in a comprehensive report that a CMO or CEO can pass along to a board of directors. We see this a lot with our own clients, because it’s crucial that PR be able to clearly quantify its own value to a company’s most prominent decision-makers. Agencies should be able to deliver insight on competitors, share of voice over time, PR referrals, web traffic and more to inform overall marketing and communications strategies, provide context around media trends and add value with data-driven reporting that makes the marketing department look even better.


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