Measuring ROI for Public Relations IS Possible

By Cara Sloman, CEO, Force4 Technology Communications 

Is it possible to measure the return on investment (ROI) of PR? Our clients often ask this question. In the past, it was a far more complex process. Today, not only is it possible, but measuring PR’s ROI is easier than ever.  

It’s a matter of choosing the right key performance indicators (KPIs). Whatever your goal is – finding new customers, gaining the attention of investors or establishing your organization as an industry leader – an effective public relations program can generate the visibility you need to reach your business goal. 

To choose KPIs, first you must determine your business objectives. What do you want to achieve: partnership or investment, sales, client acquisition, competitive dominance or some other goal? Next, identify strategies and tactics that help you achieve those objectives. Finally, select KPIs that measure the efficacy of your selected strategies. 

These are the metrics we recommend: 

  1. Share of voice: SOV refers to the percentage of your coverage versus that of competitors, and it demonstrates a brand’s visibility within its target market. Competitive share of voice (SOV) is linked to market share over time. Analyzing this aspect of the competitive landscape provides insights into how effectively your efforts are engaging target audiences and capturing the attention of potential customers or partners.
  2. Key message penetration: Your key messages are the top benefits of your product or solution and the value they offer. We recommend repeating them to ensure consistent brand perception. The metric of success here is whether the coverage reflects your company’s key messages.
  3. Domain authority: This has to do with how important the publication covering your company is to your target audience. The more prestigious the placement, the higher the web page’s ranking, and the greater the likelihood of that page receiving good placement in online searches.
  4. Sentiment: This is a qualitative measurement that reveals the opinion expressed in any article or media post referring to a brand. The sentiment of media coverage directly translates to brand perception, a measure that is critical to the overall equation of how successful a campaign is. Without considering what audiences and influencers are saying and feeling about your brand, an analysis of your PR program is incomplete.

We measure sentiment for our clients in a simple, straightforward way: the number and percentage of positive, negative or neutral coverage. We track this balance over time to measure how opinion of your brand changes in response to PR strategy and activity. As we learn, we set new goals to measure future efforts. 

  1. Influencer engagement: Your target audience sees editors, analysts, high-value publications, peers and bloggers as reputable information sources. These influencers are a direct line between your business and your target market. Positive and on-message coverage from these trusted sources convey the value of your brand and its offerings directly to your target audience and establish your presence as one to watch.
  2. Earned traffic and lead generation: The number of website visitors directed from press coverage and social media is an example of lead generation based on PR efforts. To measure this, create traceable links for each social platform and set up Google Analytics to track how coverage and social media is driving web traffic and motivating potential customers to complete calls to action, such as signing up for a webinar or downloading a whitepaper.

Meeting your PR goals 

So, as you can see from these examples, it’s entirely possible to measure the ROI of public relations – and it doesn’t require a Ph.D. in anything. However, you do need to determine in advance what business outcomes are desired and which measurements will reveal the effectiveness of your efforts. Use a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures to ensure that efforts are on the right track. 

How successful are your PR efforts? Are you meeting your objectives? If you’d like some assistance, we can align your goals with measurable metrics to drive business results. Contact us here.