Measuring the Success of Your PR Campaign

October 11th, 2013

Tape measure bar chart“We don’t all measure the same things, measure the same ways, or use the same tools or terminology,” wrote Jack Felton in the forward to the 2002 edition of the Dictionary of Public Relations Measurement and Research. The dictionary unifies the nomenclature of PR and media measurement, but once you know the vocabulary, it’s time for the down-and-dirty work of actually measuring.

David Rockland, partner and managing director of global research at Ketchum, said of the principles of PR measurement, that “Public relations has evolved at an extremely rapid pace of the past decade, and with that evolution must come a comprehensive and effective way of measuring its value.” Within are some of the most effective measurement tips to assess the progress of your PR campaign.

Establish Goals

Every successful PR campaign starts from clearly-defined, measurable goals. Is your aim to create brand awareness, to generate leads, to increase sales, or to position your organization as an industry leader? The scope of your organization’s goals affects methods of measurement and definitions of success.

Set Benchmarks

Establish your benchmarks based on what enables you to clearly, quantitatively, or qualitatively determine success. Most PR campaigns utilize media outreach, so it’s imperative to track tone, prominence, share of voice, and page visits. These are central to tracking how your key messaging plays in the media.

For goals that influence target groups, include metrics like brand awareness, recognition, credibility, and image. Business-oriented goals like increasing revenue, brand value, or market share are best measured through market analytics and sales tracking.


The quality of media coverage your PR campaign receives is just as – if not more – important than the quantity of coverage it receives. Don’t focus solely on circulation or media value; qualitative measures like tone, prominence, and share of voice are indicators of campaign success.

The Right Quantity

Though Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) has proved a popular PR yardstick, there are more revealing quantitative measures to use. These quantitative measures don’t need to be confined within narrow parameters, and the most effective quantitative measures distinguish placement and publication prominence and message variety.

Social Media

Now that social media is an inherent component to most PR campaigns, it must also be measured, and there are plenty of social media tools to help. When monitoring social media platforms, look out for discussions relevant to your organizations and become an active participant. Approach social media with an analytical eye and identify patterns, trends, and opinions.

Quantify the results of your social media efforts by shares, recommendations, retweets, followers, reach, and tone, as well as social media measurement standards such as impact and value, influence, relevance, reach, impressions, and sentiment.

Remember to identify who your most active users are. Active users can not only help spread your social media messages, they may also be prime candidates for becoming brand evangelists.

Best Practices for Measurement

Choose measurement benchmarks that can consistently track progress over extended periods of time. Keep your analysis on a manageable scale; limit your analysis to a few select publications or competitors, or keep the tracking within a shorter amount of time.

Finally, make use of experts. This could mean enlisting internal experts on tracking and coding, or it could mean hiring a third-party expert to provide a comprehensive, robust measurement report.  Make sure that any expert fully understands your goals and objectives, and be sure to ask plenty of questions so you know exactly how things are measured and the depth of analysis your campaign requires.

How do you track your PR progress? Which metrics do you find most revealing?

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