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How do you measure the success [of your PR campaign]: 4 metrics

By Dave Yonkman

Public Relations Metrics on an Excel Spreadsheet
Public Relations Metrics

You pay your public relations firm for 4 news media placements that appear in your local business paper, a national trade publication that covers your industry, a podcast hosted by an in-demand influencer and Fortune magazine.

Success. All 4 placements strike within the 6-month deadline in your contract.

Your email inbox fills up with friends and associates congratulating you on making the news. Local leaders like and comment on the stories when you post them to LinkedIn. Your mom finds a hard copy of the business paper and frames it for you.

The nagging question is how do you know whether you received a Return on your Investment (ROI)?

Metrics that assess your campaign’s reach, impact and overall ROI. That’s how.

As management guru Peter Drucker says, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

Define clear goals you want to achieve

Do you want more people in a niche crowd to know about you, guide traffic to your website, boost your numbers on LinkedIn or increase sales?

Do all 4 at once.

First, list all of the articles, interviews and blog posts that resulted from your campaign that you can find in a Google News search. Other publications will link to your news articles if they provide enough value and supporting facts.

Create an Excel document that includes columns that list,

The date of publication.
The title of the article or interview, as well as other articles and blog posts that link to the original story.
A link to the story.
Subscribers, viewers or listeners of the media outlet.

The number of readers consuming your news doesn’t matter nearly as much as who they are. Create more columns to track custom information.

Do the publication’s readers work in your industry? Is it read by owners, middle management or by professionals? How much does the reader’s company earn in revenue? Do readers have budget authority? How much do readers pay to subscribe to the publication?

All of these signals offer incredible insight into who’s reading about you.

Analyze your digital traffic

Second, set up your Google Analytics. Google provides an easy and free tutorial to track where traffic to your website comes from.

Be sure to configure it before your campaign begins so you can accurately determine the increase in numbers.

It will show you how many people visited your website. Whether they came from search engines or users who entered your company’s website address directly. How many came from the news articles that featured you.

You likely received a backlink to your website in your news articles (you should always ask for one). With a backlink, you can track how many people came to your website directly from the news article.

Paid platforms such as Moz, Ahrefs and Semrush will give you even more granular details about the traffic generated to your website by your PR campaign.

Be sure to call a reputable PR firm like DYS Media if you need help figuring out how to best measure your results.

Gauge your LinkedIn efforts

Third, create a separate Excel document with columns that indicate,

Comments (positive and negative).

Did one post generate more activity than others? Determine why.

Did the post feature more valuable insight for customers? Did it contain more photographs? Does it contain a backlink to the correct page on your company website?

How you post on LinkedIn makes a big difference as well. Be sure to search websites that offer guidance on best practices to ensure you operate with the latest information.

Surveys and feedback

Finally, conduct a post-campaign survey and seek feedback from your customers and employees to judge the campaign's effectiveness.

You can pay a lot of money for focus groups in which you bring consumers of your PR campaign together in a room to ask specific questions.

You don’t need to spend much to get good feedback though. You can conduct your own telephone surveys and send email feedback forms to your audience.

You can also call around to friends, associates and family members to ask for their honest opinions.

If nothing else, ask visitors to your website and callers to your office, “How did you hear about us?”

Document everything.

What is Advertising Equivalency Value?

Advertising Equivalency Value (AEV) tries to estimate the value of your earned media by comparing it to the cost of advertising in the same space.

It is a poor measure.

Online tools can help calculate AEV based on factors such as the size of the publication and advertising rates. It’s a tool that can make you feel better about how much you invest into your PR campaign, but it doesn’t reveal much insight as far as evaluating the cost-effectiveness of your efforts.

How do I know whether I recouped my investment?

Did you see an increase in traffic from the websites, blogs or social media platforms that carried your news? Did any of the leads generated during the campaign convert into paying customers?

More dollars in your pocket than when you started is a pretty good indicator of success.

It’s really tough to run a public relations campaign in which you get your products and services in front of the precise people who need them and fail to sell anything.

Still, PR is a long-term play.

Digital marketing and Pay-Per-Click Google advertising produces immediate measurable results in proportion to how much you spend. They don’t generate lasting value, however. Your promotions end the moment you stop paying for them.

Getting in the news requires more work. You need to research publications and reporters who would be interested in what you have to offer. You need to offer them a compelling story in which their readers find value.

News coverage says a lot about your company. You can’t buy positive press for yourself because it isn’t for sale. It sends a strong message to the market that you are a serious player. Plus, news articles remain online so long as consumers have a reason to look for you. They don’t end at a predetermined time.

After all, news outlets make their money by the advertisements they sell. They don’t make money from ads if nobody reads their actual news product. They can actually keep making money on your news for years after initial publication.


There’s no feeling like scoring an incredible story about your company in the press.

Advertising and marketing play a major role in getting customers familiar with you. You can measure them much more precisely than public relations as well.

Nothing builds trust like earned media.

To get the most out of your campaigns, be sure to,

Define clear goals.
Track your media placements.
Analyze your website traffic with Google Analytics.
Score your social media.
Avoid feel-good metrics like Advertising Equivalency Value.
Gather feedback from your audience.

You can use the information you gathered from your PR campaign to produce an even better run at earning media in the future.

Call DYS Media at (616) 298-8798 or write if you need help measuring the Return on Investment from your public relations efforts!
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