5 ways to measure PR success

By Sarah Brownlee

Posted on 10th July 2019

Advertising Value Equivalent has long been a key metric for measuring the success of a PR campaign however, we question its effectiveness.

A key trick in the magic box of marketing is public relations, more commonly referred to as PR. And in our holistic approach at Yellow Door, PR is often integrated into our digital marketing strategy. We love coming up with newsworthy angles and pitch them to relevant publications on behalf of our clients.

The measurement method, and often the KPI for PR service providers, is Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE). Quintessentially this metric advises clients what they would’ve paid in advertising value to feature in a certain publication, online or broadcast channel.

The argument of whether or not the metric is an effective way to measure PR success started around five years ago (at least locally), however the evolvement to find a new solution for tracking success has been relatively slow as industry experts sit divided on the matter.

This past month, a couple of our clients were featured in respected online publications and broadcast channels. Thinking it would be impressive to include an AVE figure of the coverage received off the back of our efforts in our month end reports, I consulted the publications to enquire what the estimated AVE would be. To my surprise, three out of the four media houses responded with a similar retort: “Excuse my ignorance but what is AVE?”

This got me thinking. Sure, including a large number on paper can make you look impressive to clients when you can boast you’ve saved them over R100k in ad spend; however, is AVE an effective, and better yet, a fair way of measuring PR success? In my opinion, no.

So how do we track the success of this marketing tool?

Here are five ways that we can measure, without AVE, the effectiveness of a PR campaign:

1. Media impressions:

Asking an online publication for the number of media impressions received is a good start. How many people read your story?

2. Press clippings:

Another way to assess your PR efforts is to keep track of the number of publications (online or print) that mention your brand. Although be warned to not get caught up in quantity over quality. It is vital that your name is appearing in titles relevant to your target audience.

3. Website traffic:

Measuring the amount of traffic your website receives before and after pitching a press statement to media is a good indicator of reaching a desired market. Analysing spikes in website traffic should give you a good idea if the results were off the back of your PR efforts.

4. Lead generation:

If your brand is being spoken about in relevant media titles, it should directly result in leads. To find out how new customers heard of your company and service offering, simply ask them.

5. Social media:

Following a pitch, keep an eye on your social media following to track whether or not there in an increase in followers. Social media measurements should also focus on conversations about your brand, as well as social communities in your industry.

So next time you want to measure the success of a media pitch or PR campaign keep these measurements in mind. It certainly removes the pressure of having to present a big fat Rand figure to bean counting business owners and, in my opinion at least, is a more effective way of evaluating your success.

If you’d like to find out more about our PR offering at Yellow Door, please pop me an email at sarah@theyellowdoor.co.za

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