PR agency insight: How to measure public relations impact

Public relations, as one strand of marketing, is known for being more difficult to measure compared to other disciplines, like online ads or paid search that can be measured by amount spent equals x impressions / referred traffic / sales. With PR, it’s trickier and so every PR agency – like us – needs to prove there’s value in what we do.

In the same way that we’d never guarantee our clients coverage – we’d never promise businesses that PR will generate sales. PR is not a direct sales channel. If a client is all about generating sales, then PR is a great addition to a marketing campaign that might include other tactics like paid social or search.

However, we know as a PR agency that specialises in PR for SEO that it’s a great way to build links from high-ranking media sites to help businesses boost online traffic and SEO. PR is also a great way to generate brand visibility and credibility through third party endorsement (e.g. a respected journalist covering the company in question). All of this is essential for growing a business.

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So how do we measure public relations impact? 

At our PR agency we split into ‘outputs’ and ‘outcomes’:

Outputs: metrics that are considered to be more traditional but less meaningful. Outputs can be things like combined reach – though we know often by combining circulation/unique user figures can result in an unrealistic number – and the total amount of articles covering the company. Outputs are valid but it’s always hard to know from these alone any impact it has made!

Outcomes: these metrics are better at showing the value, and therefore impact, to the business that has invested in PR. Outcomes can include things like:

  • Referred traffic to a company’s site from a media site that has covered the business and linked to its site
  • A number of earned links, through PR activities, to a business’s site from other high-ranking sites, which will improve the site’s SEO 
  • An improvement of things like site visibility (e.g. what page in search results does the company appear and visibility against competitors etc.) and Majestic Trust Flow and Citation Flow scores. 
  • Increase in customer sign-ups / opt-ins / sales sales that can be directly attributed to PR activity. Again, although PR is not a sales channel – these things can happen through PR. A great way of testing it is tracking via a unique link (only used in media relations) or a spike in sales of a product when PR coverage has been published.

Want to know how our PR agency can make a positive impact on your business?

Then get in touch!