In a survey by PRWeek/Cision, 75% of communication professionals said that measuring and proving the impact of public relations is a major concern of theirs, but 70% said they don’t have the right data and analytics to do so.

Unlike other forms of advertising that produce tangible results and figures, it can be difficult to measure the success of a PR campaign and its direct effect on bottom-line outcomes; that doesn’t mean that businesses should skip PR in favor of more traditional advertising strategies, though. Today’s PR professional is equipped with a wide variety of resources that incorporate digital marketing and cutting-edge communication tactics that can effectively quantify PR efforts. Below are some of the methods resourceful communication professionals are using to determine if their hard work is paying off.

  • Understand media impressions: PR tracking tools like Cision can provide insight into reach, engagement, and audience demographics which can help determine PR success beyond press clippings and media hits. PR specialists will take a close look at the media outlet’s circulation and what types of people are actually paying attention. Perhaps an interview was secured with a magazine that has a smaller readership, but the article was picked up and shared by potential customers or clients who value that information because it’s relevant to their line of work. Having the ability to track and monitor your audience is vital when measuring PR success.
  • Track website traffic: Measuring the amount of traffic on your brand’s website before and after launching a campaign can determine if it resulted in more web visits, and if those visits led to sales. Every article, social media mention, and radio and TV interview should include a link to the company website to increase brand awareness and measure campaign success.
  • Engage with customers: Asking new customers how they heard about your brand is a tried and true method for understanding if a campaign is actually resulting in sales. It may even be beneficial to offer viewers or readers a special deal or prize if they share that they saw or read about your business in the news.
  • Monitor social media: With the help of a social media monitoring tool, you can see every time either a consumer or reporter mentions your brand or products, and whether their sentiment is negative or positive. Good PR professionals will keep an eye on this during and after a campaign to see if social conversations increase with the media push. In addition, by tracking all of the conversations and online content that references your brand, you can see how you’re stacking up in comparison to direct competitors
  • Craft pitches in accordance with business goals: To ensure the right message is being amplified, craft pitches with one or two salient points that directly relate to a client’s overall marketing strategy or campaign. Staying focused helps you (and reporters, editors, and producers) get the most out of every media hit.

The Internet, custom software, and social media have greatly improved the ability to track PR results. But in this ever-changing environment, it’s vital that PR professionals stay one step ahead of the business of PR.

As the world of public relations continues to evolve, PR professionals will have to develop even more tactics to remain on top of the game. They will need to keep an eye on emerging trends, while dedicating time and resources to the strategies that have already proven to be successful for them. And know that there isn’t anything more powerful than an impactful pitch of a newsworthy story