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How do you measure PR campaign success?

on in Education PR

So, you’ve had a great idea for a PR campaign to launch a new edtech offering, raise awareness of your brand in schools or get headteachers to watch a product demo.

But now you need to put some KPIs in place to make sure you can measure and report on how the campaign is performing both during its roll out and post campaign too.

What are the best metrics to use in PR?

That all depends on the type of campaign and what you are trying to achieve.

So let’s say you want to raise headteachers’ awareness of your brand. You might think the number of items of positive coverage secured in the press and on the websites your target audience consumes would be a good goal to measure.

You may want to track the number of speaker slots you secure for your spokespeople or customers on podcasts and at events aimed at senior leaders in schools too.

But does this really get to the heart of what you are trying to achieve for your business?

Focus on actions

Ultimately, you want the brand awareness you are generating with PR to lead to an action.

When school leaders hear about you on a podcast or blog, you may want them to:

  • Come to a specific page on your website
  • View a video on your product
  • Sign up for a free trial of your software
  • Download a white paper

So, the KPIs you put in place need to reflect the end goals.

KPIs for PR

Let’s say you’ve created a guide on improving student engagement to raise awareness of your brand.

Some KPIs you might want to set for this scenario could be:

  • Spikes in traffic to your website following the publication of opinion pieces or podcast guest slots secured by your PR team as part of the campaign
  • Direct traffic coming from any links which media outlets or websites have included in published content
  • Engagement on the site – the number of pages people look at, the average time spent on the page and if they are new or returning visitors
  • An increase in new user activity on your web site over a 3 month period, before, during and after the campaign. You can compare this with data from the same time period in previous years to get a good idea of the impact.

You can measure these using a data analytics platform such as Google Analytics.

If your goal is to capture teachers’ email addresses by placing the student engagement report behind a gated page on your web site, your KPIs will be slightly different.

They should also include x number of downloads of the content from your target audience.

It’s worth adding ‘uplift in traffic to the content landing page’ as a KPI too. An increase in traffic to, and engagement on, your website over the course of the campaign can be a good indication that the content and activity has resonated with people and they’ve made the decision to take the next step.

The benefits of the correct measures

One of the most powerful things about having the right measures in place is that it starts to influence the content and management of the campaign as it progresses.

Success can be measured against the specific KPIs you have set and if you’re not seeing an impact, you can tweak the activity over time and check the changes are making a difference.

The ultimate aim is to achieve your business goals, whether that’s more teachers talking about you online, more signups for a free trial of your software or increased sales.

Measure PR and marketing against KPIs

So before you start measuring anything, define the business objectives you are trying to achieve with the planned activity. Set specific KPIs around these to help you choose the right measurement tools and put you on track to get the results you’re after.

Below are 12 measures you can choose from to help you get the results you want from PR.

Type of measure What it isHow to do it
Back links
Links from quality external websites that send visitors directly to your site from coverage secured by your PR team, such as opinion pieces, case studies or product reviewsBacklinks are a powerful tool for increasing SEO ranking on search engines like Google.

You can monitor web traffic coming from your backlinks by looking at referral traffic in Google Analytics to see which coverage from what outlets have encouraged visitors to you site. There are also tools such as the Ahrefs back link checker which can provide a list of all the websites that have a link to your site.
Site traffic
General traffic to your web site, or visits to specific pagesMonitoring visits to your site, where they come from and how the data compares to that of previous years will help you measure the success of a timed PR campaign. Again, you can use a data analytics tool of your choice ie Google Analytics.
Time on site, bounce rate and pages visited
Useful measures to check the right kind of traffic is being driven to the siteUplifts in time on site and page visits can indicate that the prospects being directed to your content are already pre-qualified by what they have read or heard about you.

Aim to keep bounce rates as low as possible by providing content that is of value to your target audience. You can use Google Analytics to measure these metrics or an alternative tool such as Hubspot .
Search
Direct searches of your brand or productYou can monitor the number of searches for your brand using a tool like Google Search Console.

An uplift in the number of searches would suggest PR activity is resulting in more people becoming aware of your brand. Check search data for before and during a specific campaign to help you demonstrate the impact of life with and without the activity.
Reach/impressions
There is a subtle difference between social media reach and impressions, as explained below.

Reach – the total number of people who have received or interacted with your social media content.

Impressions – the number of times the algorithm has served your content onscreen, whether or not it has been clicked on
Large brands often track these metrics as a measure of increasing brand awareness.

While they might be a useful gauge of how social media algorithms are responding to your content, in isolation, they won’t give you any information about what actions people have taken as a result. Generally, unless increasing reach/impressions is your ultimate goal, don’t limit your analysis to these vanity measures alone.
Engagement
The number of likes, retweets/shares and positive comments your content receives on social media platformsThese engagement measures are critical for helping you to see how well your content is being received by your target audience. You can find these kinds of metrics by using a social media management tool such as Hootsuite to view all your social content in one place. Alternatively, get the data directly from the individual platforms.
Connections/followers
These are the people who follow you on platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or connect with you on LinkedInMonitor these if you are trying to grow your audience or reach education influencers with a piece of online content. An increase in followers/connections can indicate the activity you are engaging in is successfully raising your profile. But remember to check the connections you are gaining are relevant and match the audience you are trying to reach.
Downloads/goal conversion/email addresses
These metrics are useful for measuring specific goals you want to achieve with your PR and social media activityWhether your aim is to capture email addresses with a webinar sign up campaign or encourage downloads of a piece of content on your web site, make sure you are clear on the goal so that you can measure success towards it.

It's important to track progress towards goals as a campaign develops and make adjustments to the activity and/or social media audiences and ad spend to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
Cost per click (CPC)
Data relating to the cost per click, click through rate and goal conversion measures on social media platformsKeeping an eye on the CPC rate of your campaign will help you to optimise your budget to get the results you’re after for the best return on investment.

You want to keep the CPC as low as possible, but bear in mind that if the audience you are trying to reach is small or niche multi-academy trust leaders, for example, the CPC may be higher.

If your CPC is high but a lot of the people you are trying to reach are taking the action you want them to, you may make the judgement that the result is a price worth paying.
Click through rate (CTR)

The percentage of people who click on your content when they see itA high CTR, combined with high numbers of people doing whatever it is you want them to, indicates that you are delivering the right content to the right audience and as a result, they are being encouraged to act.
Coverage
Published articles, news items and speaking opportunities secured by your PR team Quality media coverage can boost the credibility of your brand and enables you to build relationships with your target audience by demonstrating that you understand the challenges they face and can help.

Secure the right coverage for spokespeople and customers in the media your target audience reads. We tier all coverage based on a client’s objectives and the readership and quality of editorial.
Sentiment of coverage
The positive or negative tone of coverage Measuring the tone of coverage over time is useful, particularly for brands that want to counter past negative coverage or change market perceptions.

You could score the sentiment of individual coverage using a scale such as positive, negative, neutral, or balanced, or a numbered system to keep track of the overall tone of the coverage received.

Click here to find out more about generating leads for your education product or read more about how measuring PR and marketing can support your wider business strategy in our Guide to Good PR Planning.

Also, read our blog to find out how you can prepare for the changes to Google Analytics coming up in 2023 as they will affect the way you analyse the activity on your website.

 

Photo by Ann H at Pexels

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