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How to Measure the Impact of Public Relations Campaigns

Identify what’s working and what’s not so you can optimize as you go.

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The purpose of public relations (PR) is to foster a positive perception of your business, expand your audience, and drive engagement. But how do you measure the way people feel? Or how your PR efforts impact your bottom line? Because PR overlaps with some of the same goals as your marketing and advertising campaigns, it can be tricky to figure out what’s working.

Measuring your PR results allows you to make the most of your efforts and justify putting time and energy into this aspect of your business. With the right tools and tactics, you can analyze how your PR campaigns are working and make the adjustments needed to improve.

Track your web traffic with Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tool that measures your web traffic and where it comes from, and it can tell you a lot about how a PR campaign is influencing your web presence. With Google Analytics, you can determine whether you’re getting more site visits, unique visitors, and conversions than you were before your PR campaign launched.

If you write a guest post, for example, you may get an increase in web traffic from the site where it was published. Or, if there was a story about you in a local newspaper, you may see traffic from their website or search terms related to the article that led to your site. This data can quantify the impact of your PR work.

Talk to your new business leads

It’s always useful to talk with your new customers, clients, or supporters. Not only is it good PR, but it’s also an effective way to find out how they heard about you. This will help you assess whether recent campaigns are prompting new interest and conversions.

The success of small businesses often hinges on having real, human relationships. Therefore, when you invest time and energy into learning how someone discovered you, it shows that you care about their support. This kind of qualitative research can help you understand how well your campaigns are working and might reveal surprising insights about the needs of your audience, too.

Analyze your success with press

As you send pitches and press releases, it’s worth tracking how people respond. Consider making a spreadsheet and adding details for each person you contact. Make a note of the following:

  • Who did you contact? (And what was the email address you used?)
  • Did you get a response? If so, did they say?
  • If they didn’t accept your pitch, did they provide feedback about what they’d like to receive instead?
  • Did your outreach result in press coverage?
  • If you did get coverage, did it drive any new business?

Monitoring this information will help you do a few things. First, it will make it easier to determine which folks you should reach out to in the future. It will also help you identify the common themes of your most successful pitches and press releases. Then, you can use that knowledge to help improve your response rates going forward.

Measure engagement with your social media

Public relations and social media are closely intertwined. You might use your social channels to share news, generate new leads, and promote what you do. You can also use your social channels to measure the impact of your campaigns.

Be sure to take advantage of the resources each channel offers to help you measure engagement on your posts and growth in your network. You might also want to consider using social sentiment software to help you track and analyze tags, mentions, likes, and shares related to your business. These measurements should be taken before and after a PR campaign to assess whether or not it has an impact—and gauge what that impact is.

See what PR does for your sales

For many businesses, sales are the most important metric. One way to track the impact of PR on sales is to offer a specific discount code or coupon for anyone who sees your campaign.

Ideally, PR efforts like these will lead to an increase in sales. But if you don’t see any improvement after a campaign, you may want to re-examine your tactics or try a different approach next time.

Track your email audience growth and engagement

Another positive outcome of your PR campaigns is email audience growth. As you're creating your campaigns, make sure they provide a clear pathway to your website (or landing page), and that from there, visitors can easily join your email audience through a signup form or pop-up.

As people start to receive and interact with your emails, they'll provide you with valuable data about themselves. With each email, you'll learn more about a person's preferences, engagement patterns, and what kind of content they're most interested in. All of these details can help you create more personalized, relevant content going forward.

Like the other metrics, audience growth is something you’ll want to assess before and after a campaign to get a sense of its impact.

Make sure you’re ready for search

When someone writes about your business online and includes a link to your website, this is called a backlink. A vital element of search engine optimization (SEO), backlinks drive new traffic to your site and help boost your search engine rankings.

While they certainly contribute, backlinks alone won’t boost your ranking. So before anything is published about your business, take time to assess whether or not your site is ready. Broken links, redirect chains, slow loading times, duplicate content, and canonical problems can hurt your ranking if a backlink directs to your site. Software like Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Siteliner can help you identify these issues on your site and remedy them before a campaign goes live.

Use your measurements to improve

It can take several steps to connect the dots between your PR campaigns and their outcomes, but it’s worth tracking closely. Ultimately, you need to know if and how PR is helping you reach people, and whether that outreach impacts your business goals. That way, you can continue with what works and change what doesn’t.

Successful PR can drive sales, boost your site’s search ranking, increase awareness, improve social sentiment, and enhance engagement. After putting time and effort into PR campaigns, measuring their impact on these metrics is essential. Not only will it validate the work you’ve done, but it will also give you a sense of how to do it better in the future.

Written by Lucy Werner for Mailchimp. Lucy is an expert in PR for small businesses.

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