Much like you’d expect measurable analytics from an advertising or marketing campaign, it’s common to expect such tangible metrics from your public relations efforts. However, while there are certain measurable elements, public relations results are a different animal when it comes to reporting.
The truth about ad equivalency
Ad equivalency is a long-standing method, but as PR has evolved, this metric is often considered antiquated. That’s because ad equivalency primarily only accounts for the size of the article and the outlet’s advertising rate to estimate what that ad space would typically cost. Obviously, this does not take into consideration other, arguably more important, factors such as tone, content, audience, and the widely varied ad rates at one outlet alone. Also, the impact between news and advertising is generally different for readers.
So, if not ad equivalency, then what?
Quantitatively speaking, you can reasonably track estimated audience impressions, increases in website traffic surrounding a published win, and number of mentions. In some instances, bylined articles will offer a backlink and/or article view count for easy tracking. Additionally, media tools like Cision, Meltwater, Critical Mention, etc., provide certain available metrics like readership, ad equivalency and social shares – though this is limited and not available for all articles. You can also see detailed coverage insights for a press release sent through a distribution platform like PR Newswire or many of the industry-specific newswires available now. These release reports offer insights like exact-match pickup, geographic reach, industry pickup, social shares, and click-throughs to your website.
However, PR lends itself to several qualitative evaluations that we often consider more important than their numeric counterparts. So, consider — since PR is all about promoting your messages, what is the tone or quality of your quotes in an article? Did you hit your key points? Are you being mentioned in strategic publications? Remember, bigger isn’t always better. What about targeting the appropriate geography? The heart of PR is reaching the right people with the right message, to which you can’t always attach a number. Defining a successful campaign requires openly discussing the type of coverage you’re getting and where you’re getting it, and constantly refining your strategy to achieve impact that is both quantitative and qualitative.
Going beyond your newsroom
Once you have these carefully evaluated PR wins under your belt, your first step should be to post them to your website’s news page. But don’t stop there! You should repurpose and leverage your wins to help boost your brand. Tactics include expounding upon the topic of the win in other blog posts or even further pitching opportunities, placing high-profile wins right on your home page, sharing them on your social channels, and including them in your client and prospect materials to tout your third-party credibility. Bottom line, PR wins can and should work for you – while not a direct lead gen tool, these hits can complement your other content and marketing strategies. Check out our blog post to learn more about how and why you should leverage your PR wins to boost your brand.