measurement tools

Whether you work at an agency or with the in-house PR team, there will always be upper-level management or clients asking you why you do what you do, how it impacts the business and how you can show results. We talk a lot about measuring PR on this blog and as a reader, you know that not all PR tactics directly impact the bottom line.

If you don’t already have measurement tools and dashboards in place, these questions commonly asked by clients and brand management alike can be a good indicator that it’s well past time to get started. Gathering data in advance of these questions will be important to give them the answers they’re looking for. Here are a few of those questions you’re likely to hear if you don’t have a measurement plan:

“What is the real impact of a media hit?”

Earning media – which is the coverage you obtain through effective public relations efforts – has in the past been notoriously difficult to measure. While a media hit will increase a brand’s reputation and bring it top of mind for consumers, it will also increase a brand’s website traffic, SEO ranking, and a host of other measures.

When media impressions aren’t enough, measurement tools like OpenSiteExplorer from Moz can help demonstrate the impact of that media hit on the client’s website search ranking and the number of external links back to said website. These external links from the publication itself and any other websites, blogs or forums that syndicate or reference the original article will show the marketing and communications team that a simple “hit” actually goes beyond a link in it’s impact. More links mean more traffic… and if the website converts, it means more sales.

“Where does our brand rank among our strongest competitors?”

When a client asks where their brand “ranks” against competitors, they are often referencing ‘share of voice’ (SOV). Share of voice is one of the most misleading, misunderstood forms of measurement in the public relations field. When you’re asked about share of voice, it really means that you need to demonstrate a much bigger picture of what impact public relations is having. Why is share of voice so misunderstood? It’s meaningless on the infinite dial, and it’s missing the bigger picture.

If you’re being asked about share of voice, think about the metrics you’re presenting and consider adding some new dimensions to your metrics, some new perspectives such as conversations, engagement, and sharing behaviors.

“Why should we bother with social media when we get nothing out of it?”

This is a tricky question. The answer will depend heavily on the industry and where the brand’s audience resides. With access to measurement tools like Google Analytics, we can see how much traffic is being directed to the brand’s website from social networks – Google does the heavy lifting for you. Check out the chart below. Google Analytics automatically separates social traffic (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) from other referrers like organic search or paid ads.


All three of these questions hint that the right metrics aren’t being seen by your stakeholders. Measurement tools give you the quantitative data you need to answer any of the above questions and many more if you have the knowledge to use them. Don’t think of the tools as just another piece of software or another program you need to take the time to learn. They exist to help you and if you take the time to dig into the data they provide, can make measuring your own KPI or goals a whole lot easier.

Photo Credit: Tim Sheerman-Chase via Compfight cc