Given that it’s 2015 and we’re well into the digital age, I'm still surprised at the archaic nature of the the PR coverage reports I see handed out by agencies and PR teams: Typically, they include just the article, publication and monthly circulation.
Related: 4 Ways to Get Publicity on a Budget
In the old days, too, placement and circulation were pretty much all PR pros could communicate, along with whether the journalist actually stuck to whatever messaging had been presented via an interview or press release.
Digital and social media, however, have changed all that: We now have a smorgasbord of data to help us plan campaigns and measure success in a way that’s more accurate, real-time and actionable. So, let's use it!
Here are four ways entrepreneurs or startups on a budget can track and measure the success of their PR campaigns in a smarter, more fruitful way:
1. How many times was the coverage shared?
While some publishers actually show how many times an article has been viewed, most don’t, so it’s tricky to know how many page views an article may have had. By measuring how many times the article was shared, you at least get some indication of how popular it was. Tools like SharedCount can give you a quick idea of social share metrics. And while you’d hope your coverage is not being shared for the wrong reasons, this kind of data will give you some digital paint with which to start crafting a better picture of the success of your campaign.
2. What was the caliber of engagement?
While getting lots of likes and shares of an article is great, there are people behind those engagements who may be influential in your niche and be of use to you; you just have to know who they are. At Delightful, we like to use TweetReach to measure event hashtags and article headlines. The tool will give you a count of reach and exposure, telling you how many people may have seen the content on Twitter, and also who has generated the Tweets and the extent of their impact.
With influencer marketing on the rise, you can kill two birds with one stone by using a PR campaign to understand who’s influential in your industry and is sharing or commenting on your content.
3. Did your website gain any links?
SEO (search engine optimization) is hugely important for any PR effort, as most inquiries about your company, product or service are likely to have been kicked off via a search engine. In order for web pages to rank more highly than others for keyword search terms, having links to them from authoritative sites is a signal that Google and Bing take to mean the content is relevant and has some authority.
As brand ambassador for Majestic in the United States, I encourage my PR clients to use the tool to help build media lists based on which publications are linking to competitor articles and content, and to measure how many links their PR outreach garners for their websites, and for articles in which they are mentioned.
It’s a good indicator of success if people have taken the time to not just talk about your company, and it also gives readers an easy way to click-through to your site.
4. Did the campaign move the sales needle?
PR can drive sales! Over the years I've met many PR pros who say their job is to just get coverage. But in fact most digital aficionados today have moved on and have processes in place to track sales during a PR push, via analytics tools that can tell what site a visitor came from before he or she made a purchase or inquired about a product or service.
Without a doubt, the lines between PR and marketing have blurred, thanks to advances in digital media and a new breed of thought-leaders coming up who are questioning traditional, siloed methods.
Entrepreneurs on a budget can only benefit here, because they can now track the success of their PR using some of these relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use tactics and tools.