How do public relations firms measure ROI?  

As a public relations agency, and for anyone who works in the industry, we know it’s a common challenge for us to measure the value of what we do. In an industry where we have to constantly prove ourselves, there’s always a need to show clients a good return on investment that goes beyond just coverage.

AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent), which essentially is when marketers put a monetary value against PR coverage based on advertising rates, has not been an acceptable metric for almost a decade, but still gets wheeled out in agency reports. Find out more here.


Totalling the number of combined media outlet circulations and unique user figures is also questionable. I mean, did your recent PR campaign, REALLY reach 2bn people? That’s almost a quarter of the people on Earth!


So how do good public relations firms measure ROI?

public relations
It’s important for clients to understand the value of PR.


At Radioactive PR, we split into ‘outputs’ and ‘outcomes’ – and this is how we measure our client results:


  • Outputs: outputs are your more traditional ways to measure PR but the least meaningful. Outputs are things like estimated views of coverage, combined reach, total amount of articles and number of social media shares of coverage, etc. These are good metrics to use in any reporting but with these alone it’s hard to know what impact any of these things made on your client!


  • Outcomes: we feel that outcomes mean so much more in terms of the actual benefit to the client. Some examples of these might be –


    • An increase in traffic to a client’s site through our PR efforts – e.g. we might get media to cover a particular link to our client’s website and as a result traffic will go through to our client’s site. We often ask that we’re Google Analytics users on our clients’ websites to track and measure the value of what we do.


    • A good spread of links to our clients’ website from other sites with a high Domain Authority (e.g. a popular media outlet site) – as this will ultimately improve the search ranking of the site that’s being linked to.


    • An improvement of things like SEMRush Site visibility and Majestic Trust Flow and Citation Flow scores. We measure our clients’ site with these tools before and after our activity, and if these have improved post-activity, then our work is proving valuable as it means their site ranking is improving.


    • Increase in sales / customer sign-ups / other valuable metrics that can be attributed to PR activity – perhaps it’s the through traffic via a certain link (only used in media relations) or a spike in sales of a product when PR activity has gone live. These things can be a good way to measure success. However, we do always say that PR is not a direct sales channel and if your key objective is to drive sales, we suggest PR is used alongside other marketing tools (e.g. Google Ads, paid/organic social etc.).


    • A change in the opinions or behaviours of your target audience is another good example of an outcome. If there’s been a desired change in opinion or behaviour once PR activity has been carried out – evaluated by conducting pre and post-PR activity research – then this is another good way of measuring how public relations has delivered ROI.


Interested in knowing how we might deliver good results for your business? Drop us a line!