Gone are the days of measuring PR campaigns by counting clips and measuring newspaper columns. Nowadays, PR has smart tools at its disposal to assist in analysing earned media mentions. But what metrics need to be in focus?

In the modern age, there are so many metrics available, but how do you know which ones are relevant? Vanity metrics are all around; they’re there to make you look good without actually offering any insight that can inform your future strategies.

According to Tableau, any metric can be a vanity metric, you just have to be able to identify some of the telltale signs. The biggest identifier of a vanity metric is when it looks nice on the surface, but holds little substance.

“For example, 10 000 total registered accounts might seem impressive, but that number loses face quickly if there are only 100 active monthly users. Even then, active monthly users could be another vanity metric if those users aren’t analysed appropriately,”

And while there’s nothing wrong with taking pride in all of your metrics (even the vanity metrics), when it comes to reporting back to clients, it’s best to stick with real, actionable ones.

These are the five metrics you should be focussed on:

1. Website referrals

Google Analytics should always be your first port of call as it offers the most basic PR measurement tool. Under the ‘acquisition’ tab, you should be able to see any web traffic from media placements.

This is the place where you’ll be able to find out how people reached your client’s webpage.

While it’s not a guarantee that every online site will link to your organisation when they mention you, many PR pros will credit a key media placement for a spike in web traffic — even if the placement didn’t include a link to the website.

It’s important to note that increased web traffic generally isn’t the main goal of PR efforts, but it is a part of building brand awareness, increasing trust and attracting the right audience.

2. Mentions 

If you thought Google Alerts was all you needed to monitor brand mentions, you are sorely mistaken. The problem with Google Alerts is that it is unreliable and doesn’t include brand mentions in print, broadcast or social media.

So, what’s the solution then?

Media monitoring!

The media is where key business conversations take place, so it has become vital to know how your clients’ brands are being portrayed in the media.

According to a blog post by Newsclip, “[media monitoring] is a great way to keep up with each and every mention of your brand — on every media channel. It’s an essential tool for PR teams and marketers who need to stay on top of their media coverage and manage what people are saying about their brand.”

Utilising a reputable media monitoring service will allow you to keep track of all the mentions you receive in earned media, across all media channels.

Further, you can utilise media monitoring to:
  • Track and analyse your clients’ competitors
  • Identify and analyse the sentiment of your earned media
  • Measure the effectiveness of your communications strategy
  • Save time when reporting
  • Prove return on investment

3. Message resonance

While there are numerous metrics that can signal if PR efforts have worked or not, Focal Points analyst Mikaela Slattery says that the most obvious sign of success is message resonance.

“You know your campaign has been a success when your audience has clearly understood and remembered your message,” Slattery says.

To ensure message resonance when compiling your work, select one or two succinct messages. The goal is to ensure that your earned media includes — and correctly interprets — those messages.

If your message has not resonated well throughout your earned media coverage, you need to go back to the drawing board and ensure that you next efforts are clearer.

4. Share of voice

Share of voice measures your media mentions against that of your competitors. According to Sprout Social, “the more market share you have, the greater popularity and authority you likely have among users and prospective customers.”

Knowing your share of voice gives you a better understanding of your position in the market and the challenges you are facing. Through analysis, this can offer insight into how to better captivate your audience and achieve growth.

No one metric alone is enough to convince corporate executives the value of PR. But, with the help of advanced media monitoring systems and smart analysis tools, PR professionals can showcase valid metrics to prove the value of their earned media coverage.

What other metrics do you think should be used when measuring earned media coverage? Let us know in the comments section below.

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AVE is classified as one of the ‘vanity’ metrics and is on its way out. Find out more about The death of AVE — PR needs more accurate metrics.