PR Reporting 101: The Essential Measurement Tools

This time last year, I was barreling toward a quarter-life crisis by unnecessarily stressing about post-grad life. Despite rationally knowing I was prepared to work as a “real-life” PR pro and function as an active adult, I was terrified. Today, I can reflect back and say that my rationale was exactly accurate – minus my juvenile snack habits (Java flavored Monster, anyone?) – and I was much more prepared than I thought I would be.

If you’re preparing to graduate in May, you may be wondering what my biggest (or most surprising) learning curve has been in my first full-time agency role. Since my days as an intern in a small NYC agency, I’ve realized how vital measurement and reporting tools are for showcasing successful public relations efforts.

Thankfully, I was already somewhat familiar with Cision, a contact-finding tool, upon starting at Dittoe PR. However, I felt a smidge intimated when I received my onboarding schedule on my first day, which included an overview of several platforms I’d never heard of before. For whatever reason, I wasn’t taught or even familiarized with reporting tools in college and only received real-world experience during an internship with one of several important tools.

To give you a head start in your first agency gig, I’ve rounded up a few of the software VIP’s every PR pro should know.

Cision.

This online public relations tool allows professionals to tap into a massive database of journalist and blogger contact information for earned media outreach. The Cision platform gives PR pros access to intelligence, influence and insights and is commonly used to monitor news and social media sites, as well as distribute press releases.

The majority of the time, Cision is used to build or bulk up press lists. We consistently build specifically-tailored press lists for clients that include specific markets, outlets and reporters. Taking it a step further, we organize by reporters’ beats and our pitching and/or press release topic. Cision can also be used to provide circulation and ad rate numbers for digital and print publications, allowing us to track the potential reach of a secured earned media story.

Alexa.

This tool is, by far, the easiest to learn and is perfect for producing quick results. Primarily, PR professionals use Alexa to monitor the competitive analytics of a website’s traffic. Alexa has a large database that displays the historic data for the number of page views, unique monthly visitors and the estimated page views for a website of all sizes, all over the world.

Mainly, Alexa is used to track the audience impressions of a specific piece of coverage and, from there, the estimated advertising equivalency for all stories secured on behalf of a client during a specified amount of time. We track our efforts in real time, sharing this data with our client contacts as these stories are published, but we also aggregate the data in monthly and annual reports to showcase our efforts over time.

Critical Mention.

This reporting tool allows PR pros to access broadcast television and radio news clips in real-time. Critical Mention search, tracks and report clients’ significant media moments almost instantly. Additionally, Critical Mention tracks the number of viewers and estimates the advertising equivalency for the earned media.

When a client is mentioned on-air, we search Critical Mention using keywords and phrases, viewing the “word play” of the segment (this means the closed captioning) to find the broadcast coverage, pulling all mentions into a single, easy-to-view report before sharing the link with the client for internal use only.

Sprout.

This tool is a super-handy social media management platform. Sprout Social allows users to draft and post content, engage in two-way communication, conduct social listening, monitor audience demographics and track efforts through reporting.

Mainly, we use Sprout Social to manage the social media efforts for a variety of clients on our roster. Not only can we monitor post metrics, such as which posts received the most engagements or impressions, but Sprout also shares insightful audience demographics, including which time of day or days of the week were best for reaching the largest audience. At the end of each month, we use this platform to report our efforts, including the total number of impressions, engagements, link clicks and more.

TrendKite.

This platform tracks digital media mentions over a period of time. TrendKite allows users to build dashboards for clients, including top content, digital impressions, ad equivalency and more. Even further, PR pros can monitor a company’s “share of voice,” which allows you to compare competitors based on earned media coverage, mentions and overall media attention.

At Dittoe PR, we use TrendKite to build monthly reports for our clients’ digital coverage, tracking share of voice, total number of media mentions, readership, audience sentiment and more. We also digest the competitor coverage to search for new publications and writers for future outreach.

These tools are vital for tracking and reporting important metrics to prove the ROI of our efforts. Think your company could benefit from more in-depth research, tracking and management? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to schedule a consultation today!

Is Your PR Working? Four Measurements to Consider.

For many companies, there’s no better feeling than seeing positive media coverage about your brand. Not only is it a powerful way to build credibility and raise awareness, but it’s also a great way to further your business objectives. That is, if you know which elements you should value and measure.

analytics

While some PR agencies use publicity value as the be-all, end-all factor in determining the value of PR, we try to stay away from this as much as possible. Why? There are two main reasons. For one, the way that agencies arrive at this number is nebulous at best. Secondly, we’re much more concerned with the actual business results driven by PR versus an ambiguous publicity value that doesn’t tell us any key sales metrics, such as the number of leads produced or sales closed as a result of the media placement.

With this in mind, here are four factors you should always consider when measuring the effectiveness of your PR campaign.

Calculate share of voice beyond just your competitors

We measure results not only by the volume of media coverage, but also through the share of voice relative to both competitors and keywords. Understanding how often your brand is mentioned compared to your competitors is important to track over time in order to gauge the success of your PR efforts. Keyword share of voice shows how your brand has (or has not) earned its place among a certain set of keywords or topics relevant to their product.

Evaluate the quality of media placements

Another metric that can be taken into account for PR measurement is the quality of a media placement. When gauging the quality of each story, we look at a variety of factors, including whether a brand spokesman is quoted, if a link to the website is provided, if the story is a more in-depth profile versus a brief mention in a story, whether the sentiment is positive, negative or neutral, and if the outlet has shared the story on social media.

Is it influencing business results?

We also evaluate which types of media placements drive the best business results for our clients. Especially for b-to-b companies, there are many instances when a placement in a specialized trade publication can be far more impactful than a top-tier national media outlet. By analyzing our clients’ Google Analytics, we can determine which media placements drive the most qualified sales leads.

In fact, when recently doing just that for a b-to-c client, we discovered that the top referral source to its website was not The Today Show, Good Morning America or one of the other top national media hits we obtained for them. Instead, it was a very niche website with a much smaller audience that generated the most traffic to their website. Sure, the bigger marquee pieces of media coverage are phenomenal to have from an exposure and credibility standpoint, but ultimately the smaller, more targeted media outlets may result in better business outcomes.

When evaluating the traffic our PR efforts are driving for clients, we’re also looking to Google Analytics to determine if it’s high quality traffic. If our PR is effective, we should be seeing the bounce rate decrease, while pages per session and time spent on the website increase.

Track the behavior of sales prospects

Website user behavior also offers a trove of information for measuring PR efforts. For example, you can track behaviors such as how many people downloaded a content item (such as a whitepaper) and how many of these downloads turn into a sale. This tells you if the leads that you’re bringing to your brand’s website using a PR tactic are qualified leads that have a substantial impact on the bottom line.

Above all else, we stress to clients that PR is a sales function – rather than an extension of marketing. We’re distributing content and information about their brand that needs to have a measurable sales impact, not just regurgitate marketing messaging.

Would you like us to conduct an audit of your current PR results? If you’d like help in determining the effectiveness of your current PR campaign, give us a shout here.