PR Measurement – What to Measure

busienssman holding digital tablet in office


Yesterday I was the guest on the #measurepr Twitter chat. Here are the questions and answers, with some expanded content.

Q1. What outputs, outtakes and outcomes must you measure, and how can you tie them to the bottom line?

Let’s first define what these terms mean:

Output: The actions you take, the product you create and distribute. (releases, whitepapers, tweets, blog posts, articles, etc.)
Outtake: What will the audience take away? (i.e. messages, perceptions, understandings)
Outcome: A resulting action or behavior change.
So outputs are what we produce. Blog posts, releases, images, videos, pitches sent or made. Apart form just counting how many you can also measure how well you did with your outputs – were they on time? On budget? On message?

Outtakes measure what the audience takes away – do they get more information, a better understanding of something, a new idea?

You can measure these by some of the audience’s actions – Did they like what they read or watched?  Did they comment and express an opinion? Download the whitepaper or view the video?  Did they click the link in the release and go to the page with more information?  Where did they go after they clicked that link – did they read more pages, fill in a form? You can measure reach, traffic, time on site, brand awareness, link clicks, downloads, likes, shares.

Outcomes are tangible results, behaviors & actions – did they attend the event or webinar, vote,  call, tell others, change their minds.  Did they purchase or donate? Outcomes can also be qualified leads, improved customer loyalty, fewer service calls.

If you are not yet familiar with the Barcelona Principles, read this

Start with setting measurable goals. Use the SMART system for setting goals – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timed.

Here are some examples

Tying your PR Objectives to Business Goals

You have to know the business goals to tie your PR actions to the bottom line. Make sure you are all on the same page.. Figure out what the major bottom line objectives are for your business, company, client or situation.

The goal of CHALK Preschool Online is to provide a quality preschool education free of charge to as many kids as possible.
This is measured by registered users who are actively using the site

PR goal: Increase awareness of the program amongst parents with preschool kids and get them to register on the site and use the curriculum with their kids.

Outputs: Press release, blog posts, influencer outreach, Twitter party
The content reached more than 150,000 new people

Outakes: Comments about the quality of the curriculum, mom bloggers using their content and recommending it to others,  Tweets expressing thanks for the free preschool and the quality of the curriculum.  Likes, Shares, Retweets.

Outcomes:  The registration in November was 2X the monthly average.

Q2.  What does an effective measurement plan look like and how can you create one quickly?

AMEC has a good framework for a measurement plan.
Read the guidelines for setting measurable objectives here

You can use the blank AMEC template and plot the metrics you use now.

AMEC Framework
Choose at least a few key metrics in all three of the vertical PR phases. For the horizontal axis choose metrics from the stage that is the focus of your campaign. For more insight read this post by Angela Jeffrey

Q3.  What do CMOs and execs see as most important KPIs to measure, both traditional and online?

Traditionally, sales, leads and cost-per-acquisition are the most important KPIS for a CMO. Here are some answers from CMO’s:

  • Passion and talking about the brand repeatedly – CIROC Vodka
  • Inbound leads, conversion rates, and retention – Salient MG
  • New and repeat customers into our salons – Great Clips

Other KPIs might be site traffic/lead ratio, form conversion (leads), organic search ranking, social media reach and engagement. Collaborate with the other teams and discover what the most important KPIs are for your business or client.

Q4.  In light of Google’s new link rules, can tracking links still be used in content? How?

Google’s new link rules simply say they don’t count PR links for SEO purposes. Google has clasified PR or owned content as advertisement.  So it now has no value for inbound links.  Google News in particular, regards links in content as commercial and not informational.  If you do use a link make it one that has obvious value to either a journalist or the pubic. For example, if you say in the release that there is research connected to this announcement it’s logical that you would link to that research.

The best place to link to from your PR content is your online newsroom. Make it a repository of all your content: news, bios, video, images, product information, fact sheets and social accounts.

Tag links in your PR content as “no-follow” links.  This is a tag that tells Google you are not using this link for SEO purposes. Here is the Google explanation, with a video.

Tracking links are fine. They are not used for SEO purposes and Google recognizes what they are and what they’re for.  You can use Google’s URL builder to make your tracking links. Then you can track results using Google Analytics.

Q5. In PR we track a lot of content. How do we write PR content that gets found and shared?

How we write content today is very different because of the recent changes in search and social. Content has to be discoverable. SEO is more important than ever before. Google’s new algorithm they like storytelling and good quality content.  We know how to do that.

Create SMART content: visible in Search/Social, add Multimedia, attract Attention, be Relevant and build Trust

  • Start with a good story or valuable information that meets the needs of your audience – whether that’s the media or the public
  • Figure out what that audience would be searching for online
  • Use the words your audience uses
  • Write a compelling headline using the keywords 10 -12 words
  • Write the body of the release, blog post article
  • Make it interesting and sharable
  • Post it on your company newsroom
  • Distribute via paid syndication, wire, pitching the media, influencers, blogger outreach
  • Post to your social accounts

How to do it is in my book SMART News. Kindle on Amazon  or paperback at McNally Jackson

how to write a press release

I’m doing a 4-hour class for PR University on December 12 with all the latest updates on how to write content.

Q6.  What is the Google Analytics PR Dashboard?


Justin Cutroni of Google created a dashboard specifically for PR use. You can download it free here
Google Analytics is an excellent tool – all PR practitioners should learn to use it.  This dashboard focuses on metrics a PR person would find useful. You can set goals in GA and then set up this dashboard so you can track how the content is performing.

Another dashboard I recommend is NetVibes – their dashboard can include Google Analytics, along with other metrics and alerts that help you monitor and manage your content.  I also use a dashboard I set up that will monitor manage andmeasure your PR and social activity –  Meritus Digital

Meritus Digital

Connect with me



Google +