Given that many of our clients are data-driven tech companies, measuring the effectiveness of PR is important to them – and is therefore something we keep track of as well. Basic metrics like a publication’s circulation or the number of unique monthly visitors a website receives can help us determine whether an outlet is influential enough for us to want to pursue coverage in.
Social metrics such as the number of times an article is shared on Facebook or Twitter can be helpful in gauging how much it resonated with readers. Many of our clients opt to take those metrics further, using services like Google Analytics to track which pieces of coverage direct the most readers to their website.
While useful in making sure a PR campaign is on the right track, these cut-and-dry metrics only tell part of the story. Media coverage has far greater capital beyond the number of readers or social shares it receives. For example, one of our clients would share every piece of media coverage with prospective clients. Being able to show people he’d already been in conversation with that his company was receiving favorable coverage in top-tier media outlets could often convince those who were on the fence about partnering with him. Bringing a lead over the finish line was far more important, to him and to his business, than how many new people read an article or clicked on a link.
We also believe that reaching the right audience is usually more important than reaching the biggest audience. Many of our clients come to us wanting coverage in major, nationally-focused outlets, which is one of our specialties. However, we also strive to understand the goals our clients want to accomplish through PR and what type of audience we should be targeting. In many cases, that means pursuing coverage in smaller outlets that are more influential with niche groups in addition to mainstream outlets.
Lastly, it is important to remember that coverage often generates more coverage. Media attention from localized markets can often enable companies to land that big piece of national coverage. Often an article in a print publication can be leveraged to gain broadcast coverage, and vice versa. Smaller blog posts can get picked up by much larger websites.
A successful PR campaign isn’t usually about one hit that knocks it out of the park; it’s about maintaining a steady drumbeat over time that repeatedly puts your company in front of the right people and establishes you as a leader in your field. Metrics have their place, but they can’t be relied upon entirely when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of a campaign.