14 KPIs that PR pros should be tracking

These key performance indicators reflect the efficacy of your campaigns. Here’s how to tap into these vital metrics to hone your efforts and prove your worth to top-tier executives.

Public relations KPIs

If your PR reporting focuses solely on brand mentions and ancillary vanity metrics, your job is in jeopardy.

Unless you establish your efforts as a driver of business growth, PR will be considered merely a “nice to have” business function.

Your company’s leaders don’t want a dashboard that’s only a list of links to PR clips and some social media snapshots. They want to understand how their investment in PR—and you—is supporting their business goals.

Yes, many of your goals key on eyeballs and engagement. However, to prove your worth to the leadership team, you must also measure reach, share of voice and PR-generated website traffic.

Here are 14 crucial KPIs that will boost your authority and credibility:

  1. Active coverage. Coverage secured by the PR team. You may want to create a subset of this KPI focused on top-tier publications for your industry and audience.
  2. Potential reach. Sum of viewership for publications and websites in which your coverage is featured.
  3. Share of voice. Percentage of coverage—for your brand, products or high-profile executive(s)—compared with that for your competitors. Include several competitors to gauge your place within the industry at large, or benchmark one at a time and analyze the corresponding media coverage to uncover key differentiators. Share of voice can be tracked by volume or reach. For instance, your competitor may have a higher volume in terms of mentions, but you might be in higher-reach publications.
  4. Social media engagement. How many shares and comments your coverage receives.
  5. Sentiment. Tone of the articles mentioning your brand or competitors. This metric lets you see whether your brand is creating positive or negative associations.
  6. Media outreach. The number of press releases and pitches you are sending out and how they are performing. Along with the amount of coverage they generate, you can measure your progress in building relationships with journalists (a good distribution tool provides metrics on open rates and even internal links clicked).
  7. Quality of coverage. The placement of your brand mention (headline, body) and its prominence in the article’s content.
  8. Geographical presence. Volume of coverage based on location. Assess your success at targeting key geographical demographics.
  9. Key message penetration. Break your coverage down by key themes, and measure how strongly you are associated with each one. You can also measure which ones your competitors are associated with and compare your results.
  10. Overall media presence. Combine share of voice and sentiment to get a snapshot of your competitive landscape.
  11. Earned traffic. The number of visitors driven to your website by your earned coverage and link placement.
  12. Domain authority. A metric created by SEO software company Moz to predict how a website will rank on search engines, using a logarithmic, 100-point scale. By securing link placement on third-party sites, PR can have a big impact on your site’s domain authority and SEO.
  13. Event promotion. PR’s success in driving event attendance, garnering media coverage of events, and building relationships with speakers and attendees.
  14. Crisis communications. When trouble hits, you’ll want to measure how quickly the PR team gets things back to normal. Throughout the crisis, benchmark volume and sentiment against pre-crisis baseline levels.

A version of this post first appeared on the Meltwater blog.


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